Jane Eyre

Paperback | August 15, 2006

byCharlotte BronteEditorStevie DaviesIntroduction byStevie Davies

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Charlotte Brontë's moving masterpiece – the novel that has been "teaching true strength of character for generations" (The Guardian)

A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre has dazzled generations of readers with its depiction of a woman's quest for freedom. Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved? This updated Penguin Classics edition features a new introduction by Brontë scholar and award-winning novelist Stevie Davies, as well as comprehensive notes, a chronology, further reading, and an appendix.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

From the Publisher

Charlotte Brontë's moving masterpiece – the novel that has been "teaching true strength of character for generations" (The Guardian)A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre has dazzled generations of readers with its depiction of a woman's quest for freedom. Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh...

Charlotte Bronte (1816-55), sister of Anne Bronte and Emily Bronte. Jane Eyre appeared in 1847 and was followed by Shirley (1848) and Vilette (1853). In 1854 Charlotte Bronte married her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. She died during her pregnancy on March 31, 1855 in Haworth, Yorkshire. The Professor was posthumously publishe...

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Jane Eyre
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see all books by Charlotte Bronte
Format:PaperbackDimensions:624 pages, 7.76 × 5.12 × 1.08 inPublished:August 15, 2006Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0141441143

ISBN - 13:9780141441146

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Customer Reviews of Jane Eyre

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic I just reread this - i first read it 20 years ago, and enjoyed it much more than I did the first time, which was the opposite of rereading Wuthering Heights. This is beautiful story.
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jane Eyre This is my favourite Victorian novel and one that truly stands the test of time. It gets better with every read - would highly recommend.
Date published: 2016-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this! I love this novel. This is the novel where I realized my interest in Victorian literature. Such a great read. I have already read it twice
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it and read it again So far I've read Jane Eyre four times in 2016. It is in my top five books of all time. A wonderful tale.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A classic that still stands today Charlotte Bronte's tale of Jane Eyre's struggles from childhood to adulthood still resonates with people today. That's a lot to say about a novel that's 200 years old. Bronte manages to combine a strong feminist heroine with a gothic atmosphere and air of mystery.
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Review of Jane Eyre “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë, published by Smith, Elder & Co. is about a plain heroine who possess courage and spirit. She was brought up in an unjust household, a strict boarding school and overcomes rigid social order as a governess for the adopted daughter of the mysterious Mr. Rochester. The novel Jane Eyre shows convincing internal character traits. Jane is shown to have passionate opinion when Mr. Brocklehurst had just left and she and Mrs. Reed were having a discussion “Jane, you are under a mistake: what is the matter with you? Why do you tremble so violently? Would you like to drink some water?” “No, Mrs. Reed.” “Is there anything else you wish for, Jane? I assure you, I desire to be your friend.” “Not you. You told Mr. Brocklehurst I had a bad character, a deceitful disposition; and I’ll let everybody at Lowood know what you are and what you have done.” “Jane, you don’t understand these things: children must be corrected for their faults.” “Deceit is not my fault!” “But you are passionate, Jane, that you must allow: and now return to the nursery-there’s a dear- and lie down a little.” “I am not your dear; I cannot lie down: send me to school soon, Mrs. Reed, for I hate to live here” Jane shows that even though Mrs. Reed is noticeably trying to be nice but Jane keeps on pushing her away because she won’t break her strong opinion. This conversation also shows Jane’s pride, where even if she might think that Mrs. Reed is being good Jane still won’t admit that she has judged her benefactress wrongly. Another example of her possible pride is since “Jane Eyre” is a fictional person’s autobiography Jane could have enhanced her grammar because as a ten year old her speech is quite proper even during a conversation to with her best friend, like “No; I know I should think well of myself; but that is not enough: if others don’t love me I would rather die than live- I cannot bear to be solitary and hated, Helen. Look here; to gain some real affection from you, or Ms. Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and dash its hoof at my chest-”, she sounds like a well-read adult. That is why “Jane Eyre” shows considerable core character qualities. Jane Eyre is an interesting novel because it spreads over a variety of elements. The book has a feature of romance between the strong Jane and Edward Rochester. Yet the couple is torn apart by a fiery, mad force that partakes in an element of mystery and madness. The force tears them apart yet still brings them together when it leaves Edward in a dependent state. Jane comes and she helps him, so Edward must trust her to guide him and do most things for him. The novel also features a strong lady as its protagonist, Jane Eyre. The novel has sorts for romance lovers, gothic fans and feminists. I feel that “Jane Eyre” is an old book that some would enjoy if they were committed to reading and understanding it. “Jane Eyre” probably has over one hundred odd pages of description that help enhance the scene’s mood to a superfluous amount. The novel has over religious themes and moral preaching, the last six words in the book are “Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!” This would be something common at the time of this novel’s time praising Christian values as the compound for the prosperity pictured in this story. The world of “Jane Eyre” isn’t lost for love as of most romantic dramas. In the battle between self- respect and grand desire, principle wins unquestionably. Rousing, yet tender speeches do not make our heroine desert her belief to fall swooning and docile into her alpha’s arms. Those were some reasons that “Jane Eyre” is a longstanding yet still good novel. I only have a couple points of criticism for “Jane Eyre”. My view is that it was pretty unrealistic that Jane just happens to stumble upon her only relatives in England’s doorstep. It is very improbable that out of the influx of people immigrating to the England- Whales area and the elongated lives in the Victorian era, that she would find three people who are related to her and that one, St. John, happens to be a giving clergy man who convinces the maid to let Jane stay in their house for a bit. I felt that the ending of the novel was very cliché with marriages, everyone being happy and having everybody been accomplished their goals. Even if Jane did deserve the happy ending after her terrible childhood and hardships I expected a more ambiguous ending. Those topics were my only points of criticism of “Jane Eyre”. “Jane Eyre” is an overall good book. It shows understandable internal characteristics, it has elements for most people’s interests and after 169 years it stays a great classic that most love.
Date published: 2016-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent book! this book is extremely well written which gives the reader motivated feelings. So heartwarming and full of romance and melodrama. This book is an unforgettable and a must read book.
Date published: 2016-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic! Absolutely love this book!
Date published: 2015-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book Ever The story is gripping, the characters are loveable and the writing is beautiful. What can you not love about this book?
Date published: 2015-03-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from meh I like that the protagonist is a girl and i love that it shows the capabilities of us girls but looking at the writing itself, I prefer Oliver Twist.
Date published: 2015-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best! Jane survives her neglectful and cruel family only to find her true heart's desire become unattainable. Escaping into the wilderness, she finds herself settling for another only to hear the siren call of her lover again. Will all turn out as it should? Truly a delightful read.
Date published: 2013-07-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Glad I read it. 3.5 stars Jane was an orphan, raised by an aunt who really didn't want to raise her. At 10 years old, Jane was shipped off to a boarding school for orphans. At 18, after she'd been teaching at that school for a couple of years, Jane became a governess. The story continues to follow Jane through other events in her young life. It was good, though there were parts that dragged a bit for me and I found my mind wandering. I could have done without the religious stuff, but I enjoyed the turns that Jane's life took. Unfortunately, the book did feel long, and it took me a long time to read. In part, I can blame the holidays, but even the time I spent reading, it took longer to read a certain number of pages than it often does for me. However, overall, I enjoyed it and I'm glad I read it.
Date published: 2012-12-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A timeless classic Jane Eyre was born poor. When she was very young her parents died and her uncle, who was wealthy, had her come and live with his family. However her uncle died and Jane was not wanted in the household. Her cousins were not kindly towards her and she suffered abuse from her male cousin and aunt. Fairly soon she was sent off to a boarding school. The boarding school was austere but Jane loved to learn and 'turned out' fairly well. After finishing school she stayed to teach but soon grew bored and placed an ad for a position of governess. She found herself as a governess to Mr. Rochester's ward at Thornfield. But all is not as it seems, there is a very strange woman servant who works in the attic. A strange man appears one day and disappears with Mr. Rochester only to turn up injured. The doctor visits to patch him up and he then is spirited away. Jane grows steadily in love with Mr. Rochester. This novel was written in the 19th century when women were little more than a man's possession. Jane is a strong-willed feminine character. She is not afraid of going it alone and has strong principles. There were several situations where it would have been so much simpler to just give in. Even the male characters have something to learn, mostly humility. I had never read this book before and was enthralled. It is an ageless book full of strong characters, good and evil, romance and mystery.
Date published: 2011-09-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Classic! Classic. Although I'm not a fan of Mr.Rochester, i love the story.
Date published: 2011-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic I first read this book when I was in Grade 8 and have read this book a few times since then. One thing I like about the story is that while the story ends up in a fairy tale manner, the two main characters are anything but what we imagine our "fairy tale" characters to be like. Jane is a plain individual, who has a difficult past and who is trying to escape it by any way imaginable. Mr. Rochester isn't the dashing man who has money; he is moody and temperamental, with secrets of his own that he wants to desperately to hide at all costs. While I have read this book only a few times, the book still remains one of my favourites and would recommend it to anybody who loves to read and needs a good read for the summer or hasn't read a piece of classic Victorian literature. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2010-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great book I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Even more so than Wuthering Heights. WH was good too, but I enjoy reading something a little more cheerful, and this one was excellent.
Date published: 2009-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gah! That's IT! I'm officially hooked on classic novels! Someone get me Pride and Prejudice pronto!
Date published: 2009-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! Loved it!, This turned out to be an exceptional book though I didn't think so in the beginning. By what seems the hundredth page, I had decided it was a feminine version of David Copperfield but not as interesting. By the hundred and fiftieth page, I was completely discouraged and was sure it had turned into the very romantic mush I detest (a lot of what she feels about him and what he feels about her, and so on). Somewhere soon after that, I fell in and was absorbed. It became a tremendously good book with a fantastic plot and a good pace. I read for hours and hours at a sitting enjoying every single minute of it and only stopped when something absolutely forced me. Excellent, excellent! Jane Eyre is an orphaned child under the guardianship of her maternal aunt. Not liked by her aunt and not able to get along with her cousins, Jane is sent to Lowood School for the children of the poor (it is a charity school) to be taught the fundamentals and, more importantly, to be conditioned for a life of poor expectations. Lowood changes the strong willed, impetuous Jane into a woman of uncommon restraint. When she accepts a post as governess to Adele at Thornfield Hall, she attracts the attention of Mr. Rochester, the master of the house, who has the desire to reclaim himself from a sordid past. He comes to believe that Jane has the power to transform him and help him to realize himself in the better light that he has not heretofore been able to achieve on his own. But his secrets are not far away and peculiar events at Thornfield make the reader question his advances. Sworn not to ask about who or what is in the room on the third floor, Jane's iron resolve begins to falter with the dreamlike romance and the reader begins to trepiditiously hope for her happiness. When Mr. Rochester is unable to keep his past under wraps, however, Jane is forced onto a path that will require all of her internal resources to survive but will ultimately put her in the position to make choices for herself rather than just choose among available options. The question is, with her conditioning, can she lead with her heart instead of her head? My only legitimate greivance, and given only in the vein of humour, is that is seems like Jane would have taught Adele some English. The child speaks only in French and myself not being able to read French, I did not understand anything the child ever said. Luckily, her exuberance and intent still comes through and the reader can develop a softness for the child without understanding her dialogue.
Date published: 2009-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Welcome to Jane's world... If you liked Jane Austen (anything by her, really) but thought it seemed a little bit too much like fluffy chick-lit rather than something with a substantial plot, you will love 'Jane Eyre.' (I'm not hating on Austen, mind you, because I do love her.) A rather serious book, 'Jane Eyre' shows us that strength, confidence and pure love can be found within ourselves, if only we have the courage to look into our hearts. The novel follows Jane throughout her life from a young age to her marriage. An orphan who has found herself unwanted by her aunt, Jane is shipped off to boarding school, and her adventure begins. She teaches a young French girl, she discovers the mystery of the attic, she finds the family she's always dreamed of, and of course, she learns to love. Give yourself some time with this one. The writing, like Austen, is not something you can skim if you want to get the true feeling of the novel. This particular edition contains endnotes that explain imagery and allusions that may not make themselves immediately clear to the reader, as well as explaining social constructs and aspects of Victorian life.
Date published: 2009-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greatest Heroine in Fiction Jane Eyre is a poor & plain governess who, after surviving a wretched childhood as an orphan, is given a chance at happiness only to have it snatched away by cruel circumstances. A gothic tale of mystery and love against the odds, the centre of this story is Jane Eyre, a remarkable and compassionate young woman who refuses to become jaded and angry, and who holds her head up with dignity despite cruel treatment from those above her in the social hierachy.
Date published: 2008-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from jane eyre i thought the book would be stuffy and dull but found it one of the best books i ever read any thoughts ?
Date published: 2008-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A masterpiece of human dignity & strength Jane Eyre is a poor & plain governess who, after surviving a wretched childhood as an orphan, is given a chance at happiness only to have it snatched away by cruel circumstances. A gothic tale of mystery and love against the odds, the centre of this story is Jane Eyre, a remarkable and compassionate young woman who refuses to become jaded and angry, and who holds her head up with dignity despite cruel treatment from those above her in the social hierachy.
Date published: 2008-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovable! This remains my favourite story of all time. I have read this book countless times, and will continue to do so. I absolutely adore the witty banter, the realistic yet intriguing characters, the ethical entanglements, and the emotion. I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of their purpose — be it intellectual or diversion.
Date published: 2008-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Never Wanted it to End... Great on every count!!! Romance, Mystery, Historical, You name it, it has it. Keeps you up until 12:00 hanging off the edge of your seat. It shows excellent character development. It's slow change from hardship to great compassion leaves a nice twist and a unforgettable ending.
Date published: 2007-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from terrific this books was amazing, i read it last summer and couldn't put it down. Accually it took a little while to get into it but turned out fantastic
Date published: 2006-02-01

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Read from the Book

Chapter OneThere was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question.I was glad of it; I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mamma in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by the fireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group, saying, "She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner--something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were--she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy little children.""What does Bessie say I have done?" I asked."Jane, I don't like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent."A small breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room, I slipped in there. It contained a bookcase; I soon possessed myself of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat crosslegged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves in my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.I returned to my book--Bewick's History of British Birds: the letterpress thereof I cared little for, generally speaking; and yet there were certain introductory pages that, child as I was, I could not pass quite as a blank. They were those which treat of the haunts of sea-fowl; of "the solitary rocks and promontories" by them only inhabited; of the coast of Norway, studded with isles from its southern extremity, the Lindeness, or Naze, to the North Cape--Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls,Boils round the naked, melancholy islesOf farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surgePours in among the stormy Hebrides.Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of Lapland, Siberia, Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, Iceland, Greenland, with "the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn regions of dreary space--that reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields of ice, the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine heights above heights, surround the pole, and concentre the multiplied rigours of extreme cold." Of these death-white realms I formed an idea of my own: shadowy, like all the half-comprehended notions that float dim through children's brains, but strangely impressive. The words in these introductory pages connected themselves with the succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary churchyard, with its inscribed headstone; its gate, its two trees, its low horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly risen crescent, attesting the hour of eventide.The two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I believed to be marine phantoms.The fiend pinning down the thief's pack behind him, I passed over quickly: it was an object of terror.So was the black, horned thing seated aloof on a rock, surveying a distant crowd surrounding a gallows.Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced to be in good humour; and when, having brought her ironing-table to the nursery-hearth, she allowed us to sit about it, and while she got up Mrs. Reed's lace frills, and crimped her nightcap borders, fed our eager attention with passages of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and older ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages of Pamela, and Henry, Earl of Moreland.With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way. I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon. The breakfast-room door was opened."Boh! Madam Mope!" cried the voice of John Reed; then he paused: he found the room apparently empty."Where the dickens is she?" he continued. "Lizzy! Georgy! (calling to his sisters) Jane is not here: tell mamma she is run out into the rain--bad animal!""It is well I drew the curtain," thought I, and I wished fervently he might not discover my hiding-place: nor would John Reed have found it out himself; he was not quick either of vision or conception; but Eliza just put her head in at the door, and said at once: "She is in the window-seat, to be sure, Jack."And I came out immediately, for I trembled at the idea of being dragged forth by the said Jack."What do you want?" I asked with awkward diffidence."Say, 'what do you want, Master Reed,' " was the answer. "I want you to come here"; and seating himself in an arm-chair, he intimated by a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.John Reed was a schoolboy of fourteen years old; four years older than I, for I was but ten; large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities. He gorged himself habitually at table, which made him bilious, and gave him a dim and bleared eye with flabby cheeks. He ought now to have been at school; but his mamma had taken him home for a month or two, "on account of his delicate health." Mr. Miles, the master, affirmed that he would do very well if he had fewer cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home; but the mother's heart turned from an opinion so harsh, and inclined rather to the more refined idea that John's sallowness was owing to over-application, and, perhaps, to pining after home.John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in a day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh on my bones shrank when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed was blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he did both now and then in her very presence; more frequently, however, behind her back.Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair: he spent some three minutes in thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he could without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strike, and while dreading the blow, I mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance of him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in my face; for, all at once, without speaking, he struck suddenly and strongly. I tottered, and on regaining my equilibrium retired back a step or two from his chair."That is for your impudence in answering mamma a while since," said he, "and for your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat!"Accustomed to John Reed's abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it: my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult."What were you doing behind the curtain?" he asked."I was reading.""Show the book."I returned to the window and fetched it thence."You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mamma's expense. Now, I'll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows."I did so, not at first aware what was his intention; but when I saw him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it, I instinctively started aside with a cry of alarm: not soon enough, however; the volume was flung, it hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the pain was sharp: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded."Wicked and cruel boy!" I said. "You are like a murderer--you are like a slave-driver--you are like the Roman emperors!"I had read Goldsmith's History of Rome, and had formed my opinion of Nero, Caligula, &c. Also I had drawn parallels in silence, which I never thought thus to have declared aloud."What! what!" he cried. "Did she say that to me? Did you hear her, Eliza and Georgiana? Won't I tell mamma? but first--"He ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder: he had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant: a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head trickle down my neck, and was sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations for the time predominated over fear, and I received him in frantic sort. I don't very well know what I did with my hands, but he called me "Rat! rat!" and bellowed out aloud. Aid was near him: Eliza and Georgiana had run for Mrs. Reed, who was gone upstairs; she now came upon the scene, followed by Bessie and her maid Abbot. We were parted: I heard the words--"Dear! dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!""Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!"Then Mrs. Reed subjoined: "Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in there." Four hands were immediately laid upon me, and I was borne upstairs.Chapter TwoI resisted all the way: a new thing for me, and a circumstance which greatly strengthened the bad opinion Bessie and Miss Abbot were disposed to entertain of me. The fact is, I was a trifle beside myself; or rather out of myself, as the French would say. I was conscious that a moment's mutiny had already rendered me liable to strange penalties, and, like any other rebel slave, I felt resolved, in my desperation, to go all lengths."Hold her arms, Miss Abbot: she's like a mad cat.""For shame, for shame!" cried the lady's-maid. "What shocking conduct, Miss Eyre, to strike a young gentleman, your benefactress's son! Your young master.""Master! How is he my master? Am I a servant?""No; you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep. There, sit down, and think over your wickedness."They had got me by this time into the apartment indicated by Mrs. Reed, and had thrust me upon a stool: my impulse was to rise from it like a spring; their two pair of hands arrested me instantly."If you don't sit still, you must be tied down," said Bessie. "Miss Abbot, lend me your garters; she would break mine directly."Miss Abbot turned to divest a stout leg of the necessary ligature. This preparation for bonds, and the additional ignominy it inferred, took a little of the excitement out of me."Don't take them off," I cried; "I will not stir."In guarantee whereof, I attached myself to my seat by my hands."Mind you don't," said Bessie; and when she had ascertained that I was really subsiding, she loosened her hold of me; then she and Miss Abbot stood with folded arms, looking darkly and doubtfully on my face, as incredulous of my sanity."She never did so before," at last said Bessie, turning to the Abigail."But it was always in her," was the reply. "I've told missis often my opinion about the child, and missis agreed with me. She's an underhand little thing: I never saw a girl of her age with so much cover."Bessie answered not; but ere long, addressing me, she said:"You ought to be aware, miss, that you are under obligations to Mrs. Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn you off you would have to go to the poorhouse."I had nothing to say to these words: they were not new to me: my very first recollections of existence included hints of the same kind. This reproach of my dependence had become a vague singsong in my ear; very painful and crushing, but only half intelligible. Miss Abbot joined in:"And you ought not to think yourself on an equality with the Misses Reed and Master Reed, because missis kindly allows you to be brought up with them. They will have a great deal of money and you will have none: it is your place to be humble, and to try to make yourself agreeable to them.""What we tell you is for your good," added Bessie, in no harsh voice: "you should try to be useful and pleasant, then, perhaps, you would have a home here; but if you become passionate and rude, missis will send you away, I am sure.""Besides," said Miss Abbot, "God will punish her: He might strike her dead in the midst of her tantrums, and then where would she go? Come, Bessie, we will leave her: I wouldn't have her heart for anything. Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by yourself; for if you don't repent, something bad might be permitted to come down the chimney and fetch you away."

Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTIONLike Frankenstein and Dracula, Jane Eyre is a Victorian novel that has passed into common consciousness and proved remarkably adaptable, generating several film and stage versions. That Jane Eyre shares this fate with the two greatest horror novels of the nineteenth century is instructive. Like them, it speaks to deep, timeless human urges and fears, using the conventions of Gothic literature to chart the mind's recesses.The detailed exploration of a strong female character's consciousness has made readers in recent decades consider Jane Eyre as an influential feminist text. The novel works both as the absorbing story of an individual woman's quest and as a narrative of the dilemmas that confront so many women. Its mythic quality is enhanced by the fact that at the time of its writing its author was, like her heroine, unmarried and unremarked, and considered unattractive. In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë created a fully imagined character defined by her strength of will. Though Jane is nothing more than an impoverished governess, she can retort to her haughty employer Rochester: "Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?—You think wrong!" (p. 284). Jane's willfulness scandalized many contemporary critics, who called her (and the novel) "coarse" and "unfeminine." Such criticisms were powerless against the novel's popularity, and Jane's indomitable voice continues to enthrall readers more than 150 years after the novel's original publication.In its first-person narration and autobiographical structure, which follows the title character from childhood to adulthood, Jane Eyre has much in common with another durable Victorian novel, David Copperfield. As with Dickens' novel, some of the scenes readers are most likely to remember are those in which the child narrator is nearly overwhelmed by cruelty. Jane Eyre opens with orphaned, ten-year-old Jane's forcible eviction from her window-seat refuge by her vicious and pampered cousin, John Reed. When Mrs. Reed takes John's side and locks Jane in the red-room, the pattern of Jane's oppression by authority figures is set. At Lowood School Jane is singled out for abuse by the tyrannical and self-righteous headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst. Though apparently powerless—being young, female, poor, and virtually without family—she defies the humiliations Brocklehurst imposes on her. Brontë presents the soft-spoken, forgiving Helen Burns as an example of moral perfection, but it is the outraged and rebellious Jane who is more appealing.As an adult, Jane faces the romantic prospects of a young woman lacking the social advantages of family, money, and beauty, and therefore especially vulnerable to the allure of admiration and security. By creating two suitors who exemplify opposing threats to Jane's selfhood, Brontë dramatizes Jane's internal struggles against competing temptations, and Jane's efforts to resist both the ascetic St. John Rivers and the sybaritic Rochester provide the most powerful drama in the book. In Jane, Brontë gives us a character able to withstand St. John's missionary call to self-immolation in a marriage to serve humanity and Rochester's attempts to persuade her to indulge her sexual and romantic desires at the expense of her own moral code.As central to the novel as Jane's conflicted relationship with Rochester is, her connection with his mad, despised first wife, Bertha Mason Rochester, is at least as intriguing, though the two women hardly meet and never converse. The revelation of Bertha's existence, which Rochester has concealed from Jane, saves her from the bigamous marriage that Rochester had planned. Though Brontë's characterization of Bertha, locked away on a top floor, plays into many nineteenth-century stereotypes of the "native" or "primitive" woman, it also suggests a close kinship between Bertha and Jane. Both women are attracted to Rochester; both live in his house; and both are mistreated by him. Critics and readers alike have puzzled over how to understand this connection. To what extent is Bertha a double for Jane, acting on her behalf? To what extent is she a figure for the fate—inarticulate, imprisoned, hopeless—that awaits Jane if she surrenders to the corrupt Rochester?A similar ambiguity pervades the novel's ending. While Jane's "Reader, I married him" (p. 498) carries a note of relief and triumph, the path to this ending is so convoluted and disturbing as to raise questions about how we are to understand it. If Jane and Rochester's marriage as equals requires not only Rochester's moral regeneration, blinding, and partial crippling, but also Jane's inheriting a small fortune, what is the novel saying about the real-life prospects of a woman like Jane enjoying such a union? Throughout the novel, Brontë asks how a woman in her society can have passion and integrity, love and independence. Jane Eyre does not so much suggest definitive answers as pose the questions with an urgency and a depth of imagination that challenge readers.ABOUT CHARLOTTE BRONTËMarked by grief, obscurity, and determination, Charlotte Brontë's life closely resembles that of her most famous heroine. Left motherless at an early age, Charlotte, her brother, and her four sisters were raised in the Yorkshire village of Haworth, where their father was curate. Charlotte's two older sisters died of illnesses contracted at the Cowan Bridge boarding school, which Charlotte also attended and which she used as the basis for Lowood in Jane Eyre. At nine, she became the eldest of the four surviving siblings. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, along with their brother, Branwell, read voraciously and created an elaborate fantasy world. The four wrote prolifically, in preparation for the later literary efforts of the three sisters. Charlotte attended school, worked for a time as a teacher, and had a brief career as a governess. In 1842, she and Emily went to Brussels to study languages. Charlotte's teacher there was the charismatic M. Heger, a married man with whom she fell in love. Her emotionally fraught, though celibate, relationship with him served as the basis for her first novel, The Professor. Written in 1846, it was not published until after her death.In 1845, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne published Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Though it sold virtually no copies, the sisters continued to write under these male pseudonyms, and, in 1847, Charlotte published Jane Eyre, which was a resounding popular success. Both Branwell and Emily died in 1848, with Anne following the next year. Charlotte went on to publish Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853). In 1854, she married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate, but soon died during pregnancy.DISCUSSION QUESTIONSWhy does Brontë juxtapose Jane's musings about women's social restraints with the mysterious laugh that Jane attributes to Grace Poole (p. 125-26)?Rochester tells Jane, "if you are cast in a different mould to the majority, it is no merit of yours; Nature did it" (p. 153-54). Are we intended to agree or disagree with this statement?After Mason's visit to Thornfield, Jane asks herself, "What crime was this, that lived incarnate in this sequestered mansion, and could neither be expelled nor subdued by the owner?" (p. 237). What crime does Bertha represent? Why does Rochester keep her at Thornfield?Does Rochester ever actually intend to marry Blanche Ingram? If so, when does he change his mind? If not, why does he go to such lengths to make Jane believe he does?Rochester's disastrous marriage to Bertha was based on passion, while St. John refuses to marry Rosamund because of his passion for her. What is Brontë saying about the role passion should play in marriage?What does St. John feel for Jane? Why does Jane end her story with his prayer?Jane asserts her equality to Rochester (p. 284), and St. John (p. 452). What does Jane mean by equality, and why is it so important to her?When Jane first appears at Moor House, Hannah assumes she is a prostitute, but St. John and his sisters do not. What distinguishes the characters who misjudge Jane from those who recognize her true nature?When Jane hears Rochester's voice calling while he is miles away, she says the phenomenon "is the work of nature" (p. 467). What does she mean by this? What are we intended to conclude about the meaning of this experience?Brontë populates the novel with many female characters roughly the same age as Jane—Georgiana and Eliza Reed, Helen Burns, Blanche Ingram, Mary and Diana Rivers, and Rosamund Oliver. How do comparisons with these characters shape the reader's understanding of Jane's character?What is the balance of power between Jane and Rochester when they marry? Does this balance change from the beginning of the marriage to the time ten years later that Jane describes at the end of the novel (p. 500-501)?FOR FURTHER REFLECTIONIn a romantic relationship, does one partner inevitably dominate the other?Should an individual who holds a position of authority be granted the respect of others, regardless of his or her character?RELATED TITLESEmily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847)Through the passionate and ultimately self-destructive love of Catherine and Heathcliff, this novel explores questions of identity and the individual's relationship with society.Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (1860)This prime exemplar of the "sensation novel" uses mistaken identity, wrongful imprisonment in an insane asylum, and other Gothic conventions in a plot that also addresses the theme of women's place in society.Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady (1881)Isabel Archer, the intelligent and independent heroine of James's novel, suffers a fate that contrasts sharply with Jane's when she succumbs to a stifling marriage.Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca (1938)Du Maurier's novel features a mysterious and destructive first wife, a brooding romantic hero with secrets, and a young heroine of equivocal social position.Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)A revisionist telling of Jane Eyre, this short novel is narrated by Bertha Mason and explicitly treats the issues of West Indian slavery and English racism dealt with obliquely in Brontë's book.

Editorial Reviews

"At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Brontë."
--Virginia Woolf