Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte


“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.”

 “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself….. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation . . . They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs.”

In a way I feel lucky to have read so few classics because of the joy of experiencing a story like this for the first time. Of course I then think what I have been missing for all these years but also what amazing reading there is to look forward to.

What more is there to say about one of the best loved of the classics? Having lived and breathed Jane Eyre for the past week I feel sure it will now always be one of my favourite books. The copy I read was from the library, I will be getting a copy of my own. I don’t tend to re read books (apart from Rosamund Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers which I fall in love with all over again every few years), but this is a book that has so much to say, I’m sure I have missed plenty on the first read and even if I don’t re read it, I just want to have a copy close by if that makes sense?

Jane Eyre original publicaton

Jane Eyre is told in the first person and some aspects of it are semi autobiographical. Parts of Charlotte Bronte’s early life are reflected in the story. Jane is an orphan and has to endure a harsh childhood firstly with her cruel aunt and cousins and then at Lowood, a strict charity boarding school. She is shown some kindness at the school and learns by the example of the superintendant Miss Temple and another pupil Helen Burns who becomes her friend. Later she acquires a position as governess at the imposing Thornwood Hall and meets her dark and brooding master Mr Rochester. Jane is drawn to him, and he to her but he has his secrets which will affect Jane drastically.

There is much more…but I don’t want to give too much away..

There are many elements to the book. It is a love story. It has a definite gothic feel with its atmospheric landscapes and cold, dark nights. The opposing elements of fire and ice appear throughout, the imposing Thornton Hall with it’s secrets and cries in the night. The unconventional Mr Rochester, ghostly suggestions…

And then there is the character of Jane – without family, friends and means, she is dependant and powerless. Despite her situation, she strives to stand by her principles, to mantain her integrity and personal freedom.

Considering this book was published in 1847, (under the male psuedonym of Currer Bell), the bold actions of Jane Eyre caused quite a stir upon first release. It was controversial for a woman of Jane’s station in life to be thinking and acting in an independant way.I think its principles remain sound. It would be wonderful if every young girl had the opportunity to read it.

The classics I have been reading this year seem to be getting better and better. I’m wondering if there will be anything to match this?

Published: 1847
Pages: 624
Challenges: Classics, Guardian 1000 novels, Whitcoulls II, RIP IV,


15 responses to “Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

  1. I really enjoyed Jane Eyre. The cover is really lovely on the edition you read.

  2. Diane – it is lovely isn’t it but I’m not sure if that is quite how I imagine Jane? I seem to be leaning towards Penguin covers with the classics I’ve read lately 0:)

  3. Yay, Jane Eyre is one of my favourites,
    so glad you liked it! If there’s anything to match JE in “atmospheric landscapes” and cold, dark nights, then it would probably have to be Emily’s Wuthering Heights or even Agnes Grey… though personally I’m biased, and think JE is the superior novel. Have you ever read Villette? A lot of readers seem to like it best out of all Charlotte’s novels, but I’m not sure. Would be interesting to hear your thoughts on it 🙂

  4. tuesday – thanks so much for stopping by. Jane Eyre is the first of any of the Bronte sisters books I have read – I’m so looking forward to trying the others, especially Wuthering Heights. I’m saving that though -not sure what for, just a time when it feels right read it. I will pop on over and let you know how I get on when I read them 0:)

  5. I liked this one, too. I read it about 10 years ago in college, and I’m thinking I should re-read it at some point. I had an extra copy and passed it on to my daughter. I can’t wait until she’s old enough to read it. Great review, as always!


  6. I love the Bronte’s novels, they are amongst my favourites. I so get why you would want your own copy, you just never know when you want dip back into those favourite books.

  7. Anna – Thank you! And what a great book to be able to give your daughter. I imagine it won’t be the only book she gets from you – how lovely 0:)

  8. Sharon – That’s exactly it – the few I’ve read have these amazing quotes that are just as relevant today as when they were written – full of wisdom and style!

  9. Jane Eyre is my favorite as well! I reread it almost every year, it’s just so beautiful! Great review!

  10. Heather – thank you! I can imagine doing the same thing, getting it out at this time of the year. I’m reading The Thirteenth Tale at the moment which mentions Jane Eyre quite a bit so that is doubly nice!

  11. Pingback: Classics Challenge – Completed! « A Book Sanctuary

  12. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts. I have read this book off and on since being a teenager. It is so familiar that I just don’t pick up on the nuances.

    For instance, never noticed the occurrence of ice and fire, but will look for that on the next re-read.

    Have you read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys? It is a prequel, of sorts, to Jane Eyre, and tells the back story of Bertha. It is in striking contrast to Jane Eyre, and has coloured my opinion quite substantially.

  13. Sarah – thanks so much for your thoughts and how lovely to have discovered Jane Eyre as a teenager. I’m sure I had heard of it as a teenager but never took the time to read it.

    I have heard of Wide Sargasso Sea but didn’t know what it was about. It sounds intriguing. I will definitely look out for it 🙂

  14. *I’m wondering if there will be anything to match this?*

    Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. 😉

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