Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is an established literary classic that has been the subject of literary discourse since its publication. I’ve read this masterpiece before and decided to reread it this time and feature it in my blog. Although a lot of things can be discussed about Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, surely I cannot cover everything. But, I hope that in this humble feature, you will also be reminded of how beautiful and relevant Jane Eyre is until today.
Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.
But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?
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Brief Summary of Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre follows the story of Jane Eyre herself from when she was only 10 years old. She was an orphan who lived in Gateshead Hall where her uncle’s family lived. When her uncle died, she was left with her uncle’s family who mistreated her. Later on, she was sent to Lowood School, a charity boarding school for girls managed by Mr. Brocklehurst.
She was introduced to the latter by her aunt who also cautioned him that Jane Eyre tends to lie about things. Right after, Jane spoke up to her aunt and told her that she would never call her aunt again and she would tell the people in Lowood how she was treated badly in Gateshead Hall.
“No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,” he began, “especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”
“They go to hell,” was my ready and orthodox answer.
“And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”
“A pit full of fire.”
“And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?”
“What must you do to avoid it?”
I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: “I must keep in good health and not die.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
This conversation with Mr. Brocklehurst made me like Jane Eyre more. At a young age, surely she knew how to argue logically.
In Lowood School, she was branded a liar and a sinner by Mr. Brocklehurst but she was able to clear herself and met new friends in the persons of Helen Burns and Miss Temple. At first, the situation in Lowood was harsh but it eventually improved and Jane stayed there until she became a teacher.
Hoping for some changes in her life, Jane decided to offer her services as a governess where she was immediately hired by Mrs. Fairfax of Thornfield Hall to teach and care for Adele Varens, a french girl and ward of Edward Fairfax Rochester. Mr. Rochester was quite a mysterious personality with a dark fate I must say. Jane felt appreciated in Thornfield Hall although there were some mysteries that nagged her.
The Mystery of Thornfield Hall Revealed
She fell in love eventually with Mr. Rochester and was asked by him to be his wife. On the day of their marriage, it was revealed that Mr. Rochester was actually married to Bertha Mason, who was actually a madwoman. Bertha was kept under nurse supervision on the third floor of Thornfield Hall but she was very cunning that she sometimes made a slip and caused danger to others.
The marriage was broken but Mr. Rochester still asked Jane to go with her in France and live there as husband and wife. Since such an act is contrary to her Christian beliefs, Jane refused the offer and decided to flee Thornfield Hall.
The Moor House
However, Jane’s flight was never easy. She accidentally left her money on the coach and she was forced to beg for food and sleep on the moor until her energy was spent. When she was all exhausted and hungry, she found Diana and Mary Rivers’ home. Although she was turned away initially by the housekeeper, St. John arrived in time and accommodated her in the house.
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
This is Jane’s thoughts after getting well and before confronting the housekeeper who refused to admit her to Moor House.
In the nearby village, Jane became a teacher and remained friends with the Rivers. Another surprise came to Jane, in the form of inheritance from her late uncle. She insisted on sharing her inheritance with the Rivers upon learning that they were actually related. But, another conflict arose when St. Jane proposed to Jane to be his wife and go with him to India as his wife arguing that she is well-suited to be a missionary’s wife.
House in the Woods
However, Jane disagreed as she would not want to marry for duty alone without love. She returned to Thornfield Hall upon hearing that it was burned to ruins. She was reunited with a blind Mr. Rochester who was already single at that time. Mr. Rochester recovered his sight and had a son with Jane and they lived in the house in the woods.
When did Charlotte Bronte write Jane Eyre?
Jane Eyre was first published on October 16, 1847, when England was ruled by Queen Victoria. The Victorian era was said to be a “period of industrial, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire.” Source – Wikipedia. Charlotte Bronte was 31 years old when Jane Eyre was published.
Why did Charlotte Bronte write Jane Eyre?
From reading Charlotte Bronte’s biography online, I can only guess that Constantin Héger, the school headmaster at one of her schools abroad influenced her and in a way encouraged her to continue writing. I must say, Charlotte Bronte, wrote Jane Eyre to prove that her choice of bringing Jane Eyre, a woman who she herself described as plain and small as herself can turn into something interesting.
In a way, I think Charlotte Bronte wanted to satirize the society where she was a part of through the narration of Jane Eyre. Also, through Jane Eyre, she was able to comment on social issues and the likes and in a way give Jane Eyre’s life a perfect twist and turns that bring hope, passion, and love in focus.
Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre Similarities
As I only read Jane Eyre and not really an expert of Charlotte Bronte’s biography, I mainly based my insights on this article from JSTOR Daily.
Just like Jane Eyre who turned down a marriage proposal from Mr. Rochester and later on from St. John. Charlotte Bronte once turned down a proposal from her best friend’s brother.
Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte’s fathers are both clergymen. Both their mothers died when they were both young. They were both schooled in a boarding school where the food was unattractive and discipline was harsh. Jane Eyre lived in the moors with the Rivers and was also the same with Charlotte Bronte and her family. They were both teachers and both worked as a governess. Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte are multilingual. They both can speak French.
What is Jane Eyre’s personality?
From my own reading of Jane Eyre, I would describe her personality as an introvert but is very articulate in voicing out her beliefs. She takes morality seriously and she is very compassionate. In some ways, she is a proud woman who knows her part in society. She can be plain-looking as she often describes herself but her mind is extraordinary. She is very understanding and I must say very kind. Jane Eyre is a reader and a lover of books, an educator and she is definitely a romantic.
Why is Jane Eyre important?
The things I list here are just based on my own interpretation and analysis of Jane Eyre and surely there can be more.
1. Jane Eyre is beautifully written and is a very engaging literary work.
2. Interesting and Memorable Characters
It has the most interesting and unforgettable characters in the person of Jane Eyre herself and the mysterious, sexy, experienced, and in some instances funny in the person of Edward Fairfax Rochester. There are also Jane Eyre’s friends in the persons of Bessie Lee of Gateshead, Miss Temple and Helen Burns of Lowood School, Mrs. Fairfax of Thornfield Hall, and sisters Diana and Mary Rivers of the Moor House.
The villains are in the persons of Aunt Reed and John Reed of Gateshead, Mr. Brocklehurst of Lowood, Blanche Ingram, and Bertha Mason of Thornfield. This assembly of characters makes the reading of Jane Eyre more memorable and exciting.
3. Unpredictable Plot Twists and Relevant Events and Issues
The events that unfolded in Jane Eyre are all relevant, making the reader feel some mystery, thrill, suspense, calm, fun, and love. Jane Eyre’s mind has the perfect flow into it that when things get boring on her account of the events, readers will shift to reflect on the things that Jane observed in her surroundings and the actions of the people around them.
The events in Jane Eyre are worthy of today’s television and movie entertainment and at the same time, her self reflections trigger even more revolutionary thinking on how we deal with individual human experience. For instance, Jane Eyre’s sense of morality appeals to me 100%. I feel that she is always right about how she sees and acts on things.
It can be the case that Jane Eyre’s reasoning is well articulated that I don’t feel frustrated with her character and I just understand her musings. I just believe in her that eventually she will get things right and I think she did in the end.
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”
― Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
4. Social Issues and Inequalities
Jane Eyre has tapped several social issues and social inequalities that are still relevant up to this time.
5. A Literary Masterpiece
Jane Eyre is perfectly written and is an established literary piece with the richest English vocabulary list that up to now it becomes a common subject of study in several English study curriculums.
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Feminism
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is often analyzed using the framework of feminism because it portrays the story of an independent woman who is not afraid to speak of her beliefs and her passion. She is not afraid to stand for what she believes in from the time when she was only 10 years old. She saw the social issues that lingered in the society where she belonged.
In my opinion, the portrayal of Jane Eyre is steeped in the notions of Liberal Feminism that aims to integrate the role of women in society and that women should be treated equally to men.
“It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
However, Jane Eyre’s beliefs in love are far from any notion of Feminism. I must say that Jane Eyre is not really a feminist rather she is more of an independent woman who eventually learned her worth as a woman. In a way, she is also romantic because of her strong belief in love and marriage. Jane Eyre also shows her strong belief in the importance of family as well as friends.
Final Thoughts on Jane Eyre
So, this review of Jane Eyre is a result of my second reading and in some parts listening to Jane Eyre audible while I’m doing some simple tasks at work. I must say that Jane Eyre is still a fun and engaging read even at second reading. I am again mesmerized by how well the story is written. For the writing style alone, I can read this book again and again just to appreciate and learn from it.
Jane Eyre may see herself as a plain woman but the story is definitely not. It has all the elements of a great story worthy of television shows these days. I totally agree with Jane’s thoughts on morality and love and how she thinks generally. I may sound too agreeable but I cannot mention a thing that I dislike about Jane’s actions or thoughts in the story. Obviously, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is my favorite and it will always be until my earthly existence is over I guess.
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