Jane Eyre


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(1847)



This is a story about a woman's life from the age of ten to twenty-two. You will enjoy this book if you don't mind romance and crying. It is easy to understand why this is a classic. Jane is sent to a horrible boarding school by her malicious aunt, then becomes a governess working at a mysterious manor. Love is around the corner, and she must avoid it at all costs.--Submitted by Anonymous



A flowing story in which the characters come to life. With vibrant and strong language Charlotte Bronte takes us on a magical journey through which we see Jane Eyre's life. In thrilling and descriptive text Bronte clearly describes Jane Eyre's tragic journey. Growing up she has a sad life, from the death of her parents to her abusive cousin. Yet when she goes to live with Mr. Rochester her life takes a rapid turn. Can this be Janes' chance for happiness or is she set for another fall?--Submitted by kerry



When I first read Jane Eyre, I was absolutely captivated by the story, the characters, Jane's plight as an orphan at Gateshead and Lowood and her transition to governess at Thornfield. The story develops in a way that holds your interest as she meets Rochester and the secrets of Thornfield are revealed. What lies in wait for Jane is nothing compared to what she has escaped from and this, I feel, is the most incredible and page-turning aspect of the book. For sheer what-is-going-to-happen-next value, Jane Eyre really can't be beat--it is a true gothic novel. It is a romance between two strong characters each with diametrically opposed pasts and who represent the time period in which it was written. The plot is so imaginative and so full of unexpected turns and coincidences that it is impossible to put down after being drawn in at Chapter One. This book leaves the reader wanting to know what will happen to the much abused Jane and read with increasing credulity all that she goes through as a child and subsequently the fate that befalls her once she is at Thornfield. Jane Eyre is truly timeless--it is a work of literature that will introduce readers of any age to memorable characters and a story that gets better and better each time you read it. Go get yourself a copy, curl up on the couch and travel to England in the 1840's courtesy of Charlotte Bronte! Happy Reading! --Submitted by Jennifer C. Person



God gives us a lot of blessings. Sometimes we don't care when we read or see that there are people don't have those blessings. We should thank God for what we have. In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte shows us many variable things we have and don't consider it; for example to have a family, to be able to see it also shows us that if we are patient for what we have God will give better things. Jane Eyre is a classic romantic novel. It talks about a girl searching for a family and someone to consider her despite being poor and a woman she wants to be independent like all the women now but it is more difficult for her. She lived a misery life till she achieved one of her dreams but will she achieve the rest of her dreams? Try to find yourself what dream did she achieve and if she will achieve the other dreams. I am sure that all the women will like this novel.--Submitted by Belle Brown







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Recent Forum Posts on Jane Eyre

Why is Jane Eyre a heroine and Becky Sharp a hero?

I was thinking what a clever clogs Sebastian Faulkes is after listening to him take part in The Write Stuff radio programme again. Sebastian Faulkes is probably most famous for Birdsong and Charlotte Grey. Anyway, that reminded me of a disagreement he got into with the presenter of another radio programme a few years ago on the subject of heroines versus female heroes. When I looked that up, I found he had written an article which described Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair as a hero, but Jane Eyre as a heroine. Jane Eyre is a heroine because she wants to marry a man. I suppose Becky Sharp is more interested in money. Then I found this blog that argued this wasn't fair on Jane Eyre. What interested me most was that by running away from Thornfied Hall, Jane Eyre had risked her life. She could not get another position as a governess without references, and her only other option was prostitution. I don't suppose Jane would have resorted to prostitution even if the alternative was starvation, but as the blog says, prostitution was itself a drawn out death sentence. It shows what a weak position a governess was in against an unscrupulous employer. I wonder if that is true those were her only options. Tess Durbeyfield from Tess of the d'Urbervilles seemed able to find work, but then she was a farm labourer. Jane would have no experience in farm work.


Why does Bertha's insanity render Rochester's bigamy less unacceptable?

I have been thinking that many Victorian readers would have had some sympathy with Rochester: married to a mad woman who wants to kill him. It is almost understandable that he would try and make a bigamous marriage with a woman he truly loved. But what if Bertha had not been a homocidal maniac, just rather an unpleasant woman? Or if there was nothing really much wrong with her, just that there was a personality clash between them, or they had fallen out of love and had started to grate on each other's nerves. Not many men were married to psychotic and dangerous women, but lots were trapped in loveless and unhappy marriages. However if Rochester's marriage had been of this type, his actions would have been totally unacceptable, and surely Jane, being so pious, would not have gone back to him even after Bertha's death. I remember watching a programme called 'Who Do You Think You Are?' in which famous people track down their ancestors. In this episode, Kim Catrell from Sex in the City discovered that her grandfather, I think, had abandoned his first wife and family and had bigamously married another woman. You could sense the waves of loathing and disapproval. However, divorces were not easy to obtain so bigamous marriages were not uncommon. Having said that, he did sound like a scumbag because he had responsibilities to his children, which he did not live up to. At least Rochester does provide for his dependants, but then he can afford to.


Mortality in Jane Eyre

One aspect I found striking after reading Jane Eyre was the short life expectancy amongst the adults. This was different to Dickens' Great Expectations, in which many of the major characters survive into their sixties, eventually dying of unnatural causes. At the start of that book, all of Pip's family except his sister are dead, and Pip's sister later dies due partly to Orlick's assault on her. However, if you survived into adulthood, the chances of your reaching old age appeared quite good. In Jane Eyre that does not seem so true. There seems to have been only one character who survived into old age: Mrs Fairfax. Jane's parents and her uncle on her mother's side die while Jane is a small child. Jane's aunt, the mother or St John, Diana and Mary Rivers, has died some while before the main events of the story. St John, Diana and Mary Rivers' father has died shortly before Jane arrived at their home. Jane's other uncle, John, also dies during the course of the book. In addition, Jane's aunt Reid and her cousin George die about half way through the book. Lastly, St John Rivers is reported to be dying, presumably while in his thirties, in the last chapter of the book. This is in addition to Helen Burns and the other girls who died at Lowood School. Unlike Great Expectations, none of these people died violent deaths. They all died from illness, although George's early death was brought on by his dissolute life style, while St John's death was hastened by his missionary work in India. The only character who suffered a violent death was Bertha Rochester, who jumped off the roof of Thornfield Hall (iirc). Maybe this partly explains why Jane is happy to marry a man twenty years older than her. She knows her constitution is weak, while Rochester's is strong. Maybe she was not counting on lasting a long time. Jane has a dread of emigrating to India where she thinks she would quickly die. Diana Rivers tells her it is a place which kills the strong while Jane is weak and wouldn't last three months. This is another aspect I was slightly surprised about. Pip spent some time considering whether to take a commision in the army, presumably with the The East India. He didn't in the end, but did emigrate to Eygpt with Herbert and his wife, where they all seemed to thrive. Angel Clare from Tess OTOH, emigrates to Brazil for a while, catches Yellow Fever and is very ill. Angel's friend in Brazil also catches fever and sadly dies.


Coach travel in JE and other 19th century literature

Jane Eyre has at least cast light on something I have been wondering about for a while: what was it like to travel about England by horse-drawn travel? I imagined it would be very tedious and take a long time. Jane Eyre confirms that it was, although I never got that impression from other 19th century literature. In Pride & Prejudice, Lizzie Bennet, Darcy and others travel fairly long distances, but never seem to complain about it. In Tom Brown's School Days, I think it takes the boys a day or so to travel to Rugby. I cannot remember where they started from, but I remember being surprised it did not take longer. In Great Expectations, Pip seemed to be constantly going up and down from Rochester to Kent, although that's only about twenty odd miles, which he walked once. I did wonder after reading the original ending of Great Expectations, that Estella may as well live in America as Shropshire, as it was just too far to get down to London very often. The Patrick O'Brien Aubrey/Maturin series were written in the 20th century but set in the early 19th century. Their coach journeys were generally from Portsmouth to London and back, which is less than a hundred miles. The journeys always seemed to take a matter of hours. They never complained about them, but then I suppose they would be used to ship journeys taking months. The journeys in Tess of the d'Urbervilles seemed to be mostly in the order of twenty miles or so. Tess is setting off from her village Marlott to go to her new employers in Trantridge by cart when Alec d'Urberville appears and offers to drive her there in his gig. He then proceeds to drive so fast that Tess eventually gets off and walks. So how fast was the cart and how fast was the gig? I am no expert in horses, but I gather they can gallop fast for several miles, but then have to slow to a canter. At a canter, I don't think they're much faster than a fast human runner. In fact, there's a horse v man race that takes place in Wales every year over twenty-four miles. One year, a few years back, a man won it, although he was one of the fastest runners in the country. Presumably, a team of horses harnessed to a coach would be much slower. When I cycled from Lands End to John O' Groats (SW tip of England to NE tip of Scotland) a few years ago, it took me ten days to cover about a thousand miles. I would travel about ten hours a day, including stops to read the map and to eat. That averages about 10mph, but would a horse-drawn coach go as fast. In the books, they often referred to 'turnpikes'. This confused me a bit, but I gather turnpikes were toll roads. I suppose you had to turn a pike (a gate of some sort) to get on them. In Jane Eyre Volume 3, Chapter 1, Jane spends all she has, twenty shillings, on coach fare away from Thornfield. Two days later she is dropped off at Whitcross, probably some miles west of Sheffield. Thornfield is near Millcote (probably Leeds). This is only about fifty miles, so I don't know why it took so long. The fact the journey cost twenty shillings is astounding, especially as the coachman originally said thirty. Jane was only paid 30 a year at Thornfield Hall. 50 a year seems to have been the bare minimum you would need if you had to pay for your own food and accommodation. At a strict 80x inflation indexed equivalent, that journey would have cost 80, but at a more realistic 250x equivalent, it's 250 for a relatively short journey. These days, you could easily buy an airline ticket somewhere nice for that money. Going back to volume 1, chapter 5, Jane is picked up by the coach at 6am for the fifty mile journey to Lowood. She says the journey seemed to be of a preternatural length over hundreds of miles of roads. It was dark when she arrived at Lowood, but it was January she maybe got there about 6pm. They had a long stop at a coaching inn, so I suppose that is an average speed of about 5mph. Sounds plausible.


Did Jane need consent to marry?

One thing that has just struck me is whether Jane would have needed anyone's consent to marry Mr Rochester. Men reached the age of majority at twenty-one in those days, but I believe could marry younger provided they had permission. I believe people may still marry at sixteen with their parents' consent in the UK even now. Without consent, they would have to wait to eighteen. I am not quite sure what the situation was for women in 19th century England. When Jane wants to leave Lowood School to become a governess, Mr Brocklehurst says the school needs to write to Jane's guardian, Mrs Reed, to obtain her consent. Mrs Reed writes back to say she has given up any interest in Jane's affairs and she can do what she likes. By the time Jane wants to get wed, Mrs Reed is dead, but Jane is still only about eighteen or nineteen. Jane is an orphan, but does that allow her to make that decision independently? Jane does write a letter to her uncle, John Eyre, informing him that she intends to marry Mr Rochester, but I thought the main point of that letter was to inform her uncle that she was in fact still alive, not dead from typhus as Mrs Reed had informed him. Had her uncle become Jane's legal guardian at that point? By the time, Jane comes back to Rochester, another year has passed and she is about nineteen or twenty, but this time the only male relative she has is St John Rivers. Might she concievably have need his consent?


Jane Eyre wins the lottery (spoliers)

Well, that was a coincidence! Fancy coming across your long lost relatives like that! Just striking out where ever the coach takes you, being dropped off at some random spot, then wandering around the houses until you found one where the people were kind enough to let you in and take care of you. And you get on so well! Then it turns out they're your cousins and you're suddenly able to reward their kindness by sharing out a legacy that was unjustly denied to them. It's a small world. Still, I am not sure I would share out my legacy entirely equally if it were me. I mean, they did effectively save your life by taking you in, and giving you shelter and food, but I don't suppose that amounts to 5000 each. So how would you split it?


Rochester's way of speaking

I suppose that's the point, but Mr Rochester has a very odd mode of speech. Here is an example from Volume I Chapter XV: "You never felt jealousy did you, Miss Eyre? Of course not: I need not ask you; because you never felt love. You have both sentiments yet to experience; your soul sleeps; the shock is yet to be given which shall waken it. You think all existence lapses in as quiet a flow as that in which your youth has hitherto slid away. Floating on with closed eyes and muffled ears, you neither see the rocks bristling not far off in the bed of the flood, nor hear the breakers boil at their base. But I tell you - and you may mark my words - you will come some day to a craggy pass of the channel, where the whole of life's stream will be broken up into whirl and tumult, foam and noise: either you will be dashed to atoms on crag-points, or lifted up and borne on by some master wave into a calmer current - as I am now." For a start, he is very, very verbose. This is one paragraph out of two pages, mostly of Rochester speaking. The only words Jane Eyre manages to slip in are: "I will like it. I dare like it." Isn't this reversing the normal ratio? He is quite presumptious too: how does he know for sure Jane has not felt neither love nor envy. Mr Rochester has a very poetic turn of phrase that he rarely abandons. Here is another bit from Volume II Chapter VII: "I have been with my aunt, sir, who is dead?" "A true Janian reply! Good angels be my guard! She comes from the other world - from the abode of people who are dead; and tells me so when she meets me alone here in the gloaming! If I dared, I'd touch you, to see if you are substance or shadow; you elf! - but I'd soon offer to take hold of a true ignis fatuus light in a marsh. Truant! Truant!" he added, when he had paused an instant. "Absent from me a whole month: and forgetting me quite, I'll be sworn!" I wonder how long it took Charlotte Bronte to write these speeches. Rochester is speaking them in real time. It must very challenging for actors who play his part. No other character in the book speaks anything like this.He also has a tendency to keep up a running commentary on what Jane is feeling. Jane is obviously not much of a poker player, because Rochester rarely feels unable to explain to her (and us) what she is thinking. It must be very flattering. It's not much surprise Jane falls for him when he shows this much interest in her.


Jane Eyre follow-ups (re: Georgiana Reed)

Hi. I was just wondering if anyone could help me with two questions. 1. Is there a truly comprehensive list anywhere of the many published sequels, prequels, fan-fiction novels, etc. that are inspired by Jane Eyre? (I mean, apart from the stories at fanfiction.net) 2. Does anyone know if any of those follow-ups texts involve more storylines involving the Reed sisters (Georgiana specifically), either as children or as adults? I know the Jane Slayre book does a bit with her. Any others? Thanks so much for anyone who might be able to help.


Bertha's representation

Just reached the end of volume 2, and there are some, probably not very original, things that I am wondering about. Is Bertha Rochester's madness realistic? Hers seems more like a case of demon possession than insanity. The crazy laugh, the vicious assaults, the low cunning, the purple face. It must be exhausting. At other times she seems to know what she's doing, like when she finds her way out of the third floor and into Jane's room where she finds her bridal veil. Considering what a handful Bertha Rochester is, is it really plausible that Grace Poole can look after her, more or less on her own? To me it seems like the job would need a six person crew: three shifts of two people each. Even at five times the normal rate of pay, it seems an intolerable job for one person. Is Jane being a bit unfair to Mr Mason? Can he be blamed for wanting to look out for his sister? Isn't he right in preventing a bigamous marriage from taking place? Bertha Rochester and her brother, Mr Mason, have a Creole mother. Bertha is a violently insane, purple-faced monster, while her brother is a sneak and a coward. Is Charlotte Bronte being a little racist? If so, should allowances be made for her not having had the benefit of a modern, enlightened upbringing?


Jane Eyre - somewhat withering?

I have to say this about Jane Eyre: I am not sure I would like to be the subject of one of her character assessments. She is withering about people she does not like and it does not take her long to make up her mind. For example, she's only just met Mr Mason, but has already discerned by his sallow complexion and the lack of command in his eye that he's a weak, ineffectual person. Others are deemed lifeless or listless, or pious or self-centred or shallow. Sure, she's usually correct, but she seems quick to dismiss someone as a rubbish person. "Nobody's perfect," does not seem to be one of her stock phrases.


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