Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Brontë

Hardcover, 2006

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

London : Penguin Classics, 2008, c2006.

Description

In early nineteenth-century England, an orphaned young woman accepts employment as a governess and soon finds herself in love with her employer who has a terrible secret.

User reviews

LibraryThing member brenzi
If you have avoided the classics thinking they were boring, unimportant, lifeless, uninteresting slogs that have nothing to say to you, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a book that just may change your mind and encourage you to explore other 19th century novels, as well. It’s got it all---mystery, suspense, romance, passion and so startlingly modern that you may find it hard to believe that it was written over 150 years ago. A literary achievement at the time of its publication, there’s good reason that it has endured over the ensuing years. It’s a terrific story, written in luscious prose that appeals to a broad spectrum.

If you haven’t read it yet, or if you read it many years ago in high school, do pick it up and give it a go now. What a treat. Written in the first person, Jane tells the story of her remarkable life starting with her life, as an orphan, living at her vile Aunt Reed’s with her obnoxious cousins. She knows, by the age of ten that she is very poor indeed, and must rely on others, and is a realist from an early age. She describes poverty in this way:

“Poverty looks grim to poor people; still more so to children: they think of the word only as connected with ragged clothes, scanty food, fireless grates, rude manners, and debasing vices; poverty for me was synonymous with degradation.” (Page 31)

It is at this early age that Jane hones her fiercely independent mind-set and determinedly decides that she will overcome poverty. She leaves her aunt’s house to attend a pitiful boarding school (patterned after one that Bronte attended herself) where the drudgery of life takes further hold on her. At her first breakfast there:

“Ravenous, and now very faint, I devoured a spoonful or two of my portion without thinking of its taste; but the first edge of hunger blunted, I perceived I had got in hand a nauseous mess. Burned porridge is almost as bad as rotten potatoes; famine itself sickens over it. The spoons were moved slowly. I saw each girl taste her food and try to swallow it, but in most cases the effort was soon relinquished. Breakfast was over and none had breakfasted. Thanks being returned for what we had not got, and the second hymn chanted, the refectory was evacuated for the schoolroom.” (Page 56)

After eight years as student and then teacher, she moves on to her first job as a governess for a ward of Mr. Rochester at Thornfield Hall and here she falls in love with her master. And here the story really takes off, with mystery and suspense center stage.

Bronte is credited with Jane being one of the original feminists in literature because of her fierce independence and her uncanny ability to pull herself up by her bootstraps and do things that women at that time just didn’t, or couldn’t do. It is generally accepted that she was speaking up for oppressed women of every age.

Jane Eyre is a book for the ages, influential but, more importantly, an accessible novel, appealingly written, that has drawn praise from men and women alike through the years. If you’re among the few who have not read it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s a crackerjack of a story, told in radiant prose. Very highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member ncgraham
I am a reluctant Jane Eyre convert.

I was a callow teenager when I first read the novel. Brontë’s style bewitched me, and I grew to love Jane herself, but the plot twist regarding Rochester’s deep, dark secret turned me against both him and the narrative as a whole. I probably would not have reread at all were it not for two things. First, I watched the old film starring Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles, and completely fell in love with it. And then a friend shared a pertinent quote with me: Rochester’s repentance speech, which I had somehow missed and which ended up reconciling me to the character. So I resolved to give the book another chance.

What was I thinking, silly adolescent me? Of course, Charlotte Brontë’s prose is elegant and Jane is an inspiring heroine, but there’s so much more to this book. In fact, if I tried to cover all of it, this review would go on for far too long.

Instead, I’d like to detail one of themes that stuck out to me while reading: how passion and morality are constantly at play in the story, sometimes opposing each other, sometimes complementing. You can see this duality in the character of Jane herself, in the personalities of her cousins Georgiana and Eliza, and in her two suitors, Rochester and St John. (Spoilers included.)

As a friend has pointed out, even the heroine’s name reflects this duality: she is Plain Jane, obscure and Quakerish (words she uses to describe herself), but her surname, Eyre, reveals a passionate, ephemeral, and almost fey side to her nature. When we first meet her she is a rebellious child—understandably so, considering the harsh treatment she receives in her aunt’s house—but at Lowood School she encounters the example of Helen Burns and her doctrine of endurance. Thereafter, she becomes much more contained and self-effacing. Of course, that doesn’t mean those passions aren’t there, and that they can’t flare up at a moment … but she has learned when it is right to indulge them, and how. During the harrowing pages of Chapter XXVII, it is clear she very much wants to stay with Rochester, but she knows that, based on everything she knows and believes, she cannot. Great stuff.

Georgiana and Eliza do not play a large part in the novel’s plot, and are usually passed over by commentators, but they are important thematically. Lazy, self-absorbed Georgiana represents the extreme of passions ungoverned by sense or morality, whereas Eliza relies on a set of rules to guide her days, but she doesn't bother about the possible spiritual basis for those rules. Jane does not have much use for either of them, and neither have I.

With the suitors, the dichotomy should be evident. Although St John is not without passion (both for God and for poor Rosamond Oliver) and Edward is not without morality, the former is motivated by duty and the latter by his desires—or at least, that is how it seems at first glance. In reality, of course, the situation of each is a good deal more complicated.

Previously I had treated the one flaw in Jane and Rochester’s relationship as being his deceit and proposed bigamy, but on the reread I began to see other problems. She speaks of him becoming her idol, and says “He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun.” In Brontë’s world, this is unquestionably a bad thing. And of course there is Rochester’s self-justification, wherein he assumes that he has God’s blessing as a result of his feelings and circumstances: “It will atone—it will atone. Have I not found her friendless, and cold, and comfortless? Will I not guard, and cherish, and solace her? Is there not love in my heart, and constancy in my resolves? It will expiate at God’s tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I do. For the world’s judgment—I wash my hands thereof. For man’s opinion—I defy it.”

Furthermore, while there is an equality of mind in this relationship, there is a certain inequality as well—not only of situation, but also of treatment. Even after they are engaged he is still “master,” and showers her with gifts she does not want. While Jane Eyre is one of the great romances, I think the Jane-Rochester relationship is far from ideal prior to the final chapters.

As for St John Rivers ... he terrifies me. Brontë is a bit more kindly to him than I am inclined to be. There comes a point in the narrative when he is counseling Jane, telling her what God wants her to do. When I read that, I immediately thought, “You are speaking merely of what you want Jane to do. You have remade God in your own image.” It’s interesting that, due to his autocratic treatment of her, and the corresponding bending of her will, Jane occasionally thinks of him as “master,” too. Again she sees the relationship as unhealthy, and again she leaves—although I do think it’s worth noting that she was almost about to give in when she heard Rochester’s cries of “Jane! Jane! Jane!”

In retrospect, I think it was probably quite unusual at the time for Brontë to let her heroine marry the passionate rather than the sensible man. By doing so, is she suggesting that it is easier for the reprobate to reform than it is for the hypocrite? That’s a sobering thought for those of us involved in the Christian faith. And Rochester really does reform: his repentance speech is one of the most beautiful passages of the entire book. And that changes his treatment of Jane. In the end, she is truly his helpmate, not his servant, which is both a fine distinction and a significant shift in their relationship. He is humbled and she is able to simultaneously serve and be served by him, something that was not practicable before.

This time around, I listened to the story on audio, in a Brilliance Audio production narrated by Susan Ericksen. It was one of the best pairings of reader and material I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Ericksen captures both the passion and the good sense of the novel, and convincingly differentiates between the childish Jane of the early chapters, the mature but still inexperienced heroine she grows up to be, and the still older Jane who narrates the story. Amazing. She also does male voices uncommonly well. Her Rochester is particularly excellent, and she seems to have a lot of fun with Mr. Brocklehurst.

Before I wrap up I’d like to mention two movie adaptations of the book that have really resonated. The first, is of course, is the 1943 Fontaine/Welles film that made me fall in love with the story, a real sturm und drag, old Hollywood interpretation full of passionate acting, tempestuous landscapes, and some questionable departures from Brontë’s novel. Most modern viewers would probably consider it old-fashioned and melodramatic, but I just eat it up. The other is the new movie starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Faasbaender. It is, in contrast, a quiet and brooding film that says a lot with few words, more of an elegy than a straightforward motion picture.

Jane Eyre is a bildungsroman, a morality tale, a Gothic, and a love story. And I believe everyone should read it.
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LibraryThing member kambrogi
This is the Romantic Gothic novel at its finest, an archetype already burned into our brains by the succession of books and movies, cheap novels and even comic books that have followed in its footsteps. It is easy to see why Jane Eyre has remained a classic, and why it has been so much copied.

Jane is a young orphan who is abused and rejected by her relatives, then sent to a boarding school at the age of ten. Fiercely independent and possessed of a fiery temper, young Jane eventually grows into a strong-willed but controlled young woman. Too restless to spend her days teaching in the school she once attended, Jane is inspired to see the world and experience its wonders. She finds a position as a governess in a dark and brooding mansion peopled by an unusual assortment of people and their secrets. Chief among them is her tortured but sensitive employer, Mr. Rochester, and the mystery he keeps hidden on the abandoned third floor of Thornfield Manor. Throughout the story, Jane struggles against the bonds of Victorian life in ways that will still resonate today, but eventually she finds her place in life on her own terms.

Entertaining and enlightening, with marvelous insights and brilliant descriptions, the story is great fun, familiar but never redundant. Reading the original is like viewing the Taj Mahal after having seen it on a million postcards. The real thing is so much more!
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LibraryThing member SlySionnach
I have found the romantic bone in my body. I believe it's the fourth rib on the right side...

I never thought I liked 19th century literature. I always thought I'd just deal with it because, hey, it's famous and said to be good for you, right? This book shattered all those views. I love Jane Eyre.

Truly, undoubtedly love it. To the point where every time I had to put it down, a little piece of my heart went, "No! You can stay up all night and fall asleep at work in the name of reading!" Which I heartily agree with, but somehow my boss does not. Philistine.

Following the life of Jane isn't torture, even if she's had a rough life. She makes decisions which make sense to herself, her religion, and me, unlike some other heroines I could name. I didn't even blink when fortune smiled upon her in the way of "this probably wouldn't happen" circumstances because for her, it seemed like they all would.

Every character was alive to me. Mr. Rochester is a man I could almost swear I know after reading this. In fact, I'd love to have dinner dates with this couple. I think we'd get along splendidly.

Jane is my idea of a perfect feminine character - witty, intelligent, and independent. To read about someone like her back in 1847 must have been a startling surprise, but now we have so many of these types of heroines. Yet, somehow, Jane shines above the rest.

I also loved that neither of the parties involved in the romance are particularly handsome (or pretty!). In fact, there is teasing on the basis that they aren't, and the love stems from something other than looks which should be instilled in every human being's head I think. I'd prefer my friends, family and future children fall in love for personality than physical attraction as these two have.

So, instant favorite, really. Five stars, and recommendation to everyone. Men and women alike.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
It isn't every book that speaks to both the Wild Romantic and the Stern Puritan in me, and since the day I first read Jane Eyre - up in the woods of Michigan, the summer I was twelve - I have revisited it often, and always with pleasure. It is a book that speaks in many tongues, to many people, and presents many faces to the world, all worth exploring...

Depending on who you speak to, this is the best and truest love story ever written - a narrative of the suffering and endurance of true love; a commentary on the social and economic subjugation of women in 19th-century England; or an oblique exploration of race and empire. It is all of these things, of course, but for me, the power of Jane Eyre stems from its keenly observed and acutely realized portrait of the conflict between duty and desire.

From the very first line, when a hidden Jane looks out onto a rain-soaked world, I entered wholly into the psyche of this character. Her desire to love and be loved, so cruelly denied in her childhood, seemed as piercingly real to me as anything I had ever felt in my own life. Lonely Jane, for all the Gothic trappings that surround her, could be the poster child for that "transcendental homelessness" of which Lukács speaks...

So it is, when Jane seems to find a home with Rochester, whose "bad-boy" persona would make any schoolgirl's heart flutter, I could enter with abandon into the almost ecstatic joy of her homecoming, her communion with another soul. Lonely Jane no more...

And when Jane discovers the duplicity of her lover, and the insurmountable ethical obstacles to her happiness, her stern devotion to duty, her almost-desperate recourse to principle, permit her a tremendous (but costly) moral victory. To this day, I cannot read the scenes in which Jane must tear herself away from Rochester, or the following passage, without getting chills:

Still indomitable was the reply--"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad--as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? 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. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot."

After many travails, Jane does find her happy ending (thank goodness), and having triumphed over her own heart, she is rewarded with her heart's desire. But that conflict, between the desire to be happy and the need to do right, is what gives Jane Eyre its peculiar power. It is Jane herself who is the masterpiece.
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LibraryThing member kaionvin
I'm not sure it's specifically Jane Eyre that I don't respond well to as much as the whole Gothic literature thing with the heightened emotional landscaping. (I'm for psychosomatic heightened emotion, like in say, The Secret Garden, but ultimately it's shown to be psychological- an ability that the characters can harness rather than them being at the whims of fear! and the winds! of the moor!) But my exposure to that whole aesthetic has been incredibly limited, so I'm prepared to be proven wrong by the right novel.

And on another personal note that is no fault of Jane Eyre, I fully admit that I'm not much for passionate romances (mystery!attraction!)- especially ones that emphasize the pairness of the individuals away from greater society. In general, 'love' from friendships and familial relationships is more moving to me- and romantic stories that tap into the same struggles appeal much more to me. (Such as mutual respect despite differing values/attitudes, balance between duty to others and individualism, etc.)

On the more specific level, I felt Jane Eyre was really incomplete in resolution **spoilers**(even after I assume Jane and Mr. Rochester have this thing we call love between them). I felt very cheated in the poor wife-in-the-attic deal (woman of color and mental illness? That's the story I want to read.)- and that Mr. Rochester is forgiven just because he feels sorry (about getting caught) and punished by 'fate'/'God'/'the universe' ... that's not redemption to me, being borne out of no attempts of his own. A murderer that gets terminal cancer does not earn redemption any more than the same murderer in health.

And Girl, you've heard of that expression (paraphrased)-'if he cheats on his wife with you, who's not to say he won't cheat on you?' Applies doubly to attic imprisonment.
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LibraryThing member Pummzie
I know that 2.5 stars may seem a little severe for a book that has a guaranteed place on those annual lists of Britain's top reads - however a) that coveted place is only achieved as it happens to be a set text for many GCSE pupils (Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mocking Bird end up on the list for the same reason) and b) Jane Eyre is one of the most maddeningly, annoyingly, ridiculously perfect, goody-two-shoes, downtrodden characters ever written. I couldn't stand her. Not when I was thirteen and not now.

Just about everyone in the story is two-dimensional. Jane's family are fairy-tale appalling, Mr Rochester is the archetypal mysterious, brooding man who women love to fear and harbour dreams of taming and there is even a monster in the attic, so to speak. All the ingredients are there for a winning story.... if only Jane were not so Snow White, I would be able to countenance that this is indeed a novel for adults...
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LibraryThing member .Monkey.
"It is a very strange sensation to inexperienced youth to feel itself quite alone in the world, cut adrift from every connection, uncertain whether the port to which it is bound can be reached, and prevented by many impediments from returning to that it has quitted. The charm of adventure sweetens that sensation, the glow of pride warms it: but then the throb of fear disturbs it: and fear with me became predominant, when half an hour elapsed and still I was alone."

First of all, I just have to say, my copy is one of the Penguin Classics, with the black spine/black lower third cover, the sort that usually have nice notes. Well this edition was "edited with introduction and notes" by Stevie Davies, and she sucks! Please do yourself a favor if you ever see this name for an editor in one of these sort of books and get a different edition!! I cannot begin to tell you how many goddamn spoilers this jerk ruined me with, and how angry I was/am to have everything utterly spoiled long before I read it, to already know there were suspicions about this and that and to know that X and Y were true, and so forth. So. angry!!!

And while we're talking about the notes, I must also include a quote from one of them:
"Elizabeth Rigby's scathing review of Jane Eyre in the Quarterly Review quoted a 'lady friend' to the effect that 'no woman trusses game and garnishes desert-dishes with the same hands, or talks of doing so in the same breath.' This, the novel must have been written by a man or by a woman so depraved as to have 'long forfeited the society of her own sex.'" ("desert-dishes" being how it appears in the note, not sure if the mistake is Penguin's or Rigby's),
because it made my eyes widen and elicited a half-amused half-horrified scoff of this repulsive woman's attitude. I mean, really! Can you imagine?? Because Brontë mentions doing two different food preps, this nasty thing went off claiming it was either some ignorant man or a woman no longer fit to deserve the title of her sex! Reprehensible.

"My rest might have been blissful enough, only a sad heart broke it. It plained of its gaping wounds, its inward bleeding, its riven chords."

Well then. The first four days I was reading the book it was pretty slow-going. I would read around 15-20 pages and then really want to do something else. It wasn't that I disliked what I was reading, not at all, I actually found it quite interesting from the start. But it just wasn't gripping me. So I figured, better not to push it, and therefore wound up reading about 60 pages/day. But then on day 5 almost before I knew it I wound up reading 220 pages! I read the last 120 the next day. What I figure is that the first third of the book is when Jane is a young child, and things are more happening around her, she's just swept up in whatever happens and that's that. But then around 200 pages in is when Jane starts making things happen, when she's choosing her own path and walking along it, and that's where it really picked up immediately and made it so I couldn't put the book down.

"The housekeeper and her husband were both of that decent, phlegmatic order of people, to whom one may at any time safely communicate a remarkable piece of news without incurring the danger of having one's ears pierced by some shrill ejaculation, and subsequently stunned by a torrent of wordy wonderment. Mary did look up, and she did stare at me; the ladle with which she was basting a pair of chickens roasting at the fire, did for some three minutes hang suspended in air, and for the same space of time John's knives also had rest from the polishing process; but Mary, bending again over the roast, said only —
'Have you, miss? Well, for sure!'"


I really really enjoyed this book. All of it. I was pleasantly thrilled by just how much. Yes, the beginning was slow, but it wasn't the kind of slow you groan about, it wasn't a slog. Jane was a really interesting character from beginning to end, and all the allusions to Charlotte's own life, combined with her first-person narrative style, made it a fascinating read. The characters are all vividly painted, you can just feel the emotions on all sides, it's as though you really know these people, they're not just some flimsy pages of text. I will definitely be reading more of the Brontës!… (more)
LibraryThing member Lexi2008
This reading of Jane Eyre marks my third time entering her world. I believe the first time I read the book I was in high school. My mother had a copy, a large, illurstrated hard-back, and, when I was looking for a new book, she urged me to read it. I remember being reluctant; it was a CLASSIC after all, which meant that it would be boring. But I never found Jane Eyre to be a boring read. I loved it, and I love it still!

The second reading, when I got the copy that I re-read this time, had to have been for a college English class. I was an English literature minor, so it was probably for my Brit Lit class, but I really don't recall. The only proof I have of reading it a second time is the book itself.

As I have stated, I LOVE Jane Eyre. Jane is one of my favorite heroines of all time. She is far spunkier than most female protagonists of the time, and she's not beautiful herself, which made her much more relatable than the alabaster-skinned, blonde, blue-eyed heroines some authors created.

I far prefer Charlotte Bronte's writing to that of Jane Austen's (don't crucify me, Austen fans!). I think it's the Gothic elements. Because, overall, Jane Eyre IS a Gothic novel. And I love those little things that make it so: the madwoman in the attic; Thornfield Hall, the prototypic Gothic manor; the voices across the moors. Even Mr. Rochester, with his lack of physical beauty, seems to embody the Gothic hero.

Like most people, my favorite scenes are when Jane is at Thornfield, and, like most people, I HATE the parts where she is with St. John Rivers. But I think they are necessary to give a rounded picture of society at the time. The saintly, self-sacrificing St. John, ruled by his sense of religious duty is a nice foil to the turbulent, passionate Mr. Rochester, ruled by his emotions. Two men of opposite ends of the spectrum who each wish to make Jane his wife. And poor Jane, in the middle, knowing she should choose duty, but choosing to give in to her passions instead.

The love story between Jane and Mr. Rochester is my favorite of all time, with the exception of Anne and Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables. When the two of them came together, before Jane learned of the FIRST Mrs. Rochester, tears sprang to my eyes. I like a happy ending as much as the next girl, so I'm glad that all ends well with Jane.

I recommend this book to anyone who has never read it. Or to anyone who feels the need to read a classic that doesn't FEEL like a classic. It's a fantastic read.
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LibraryThing member Cecrow
I wonder how different my life would have been if I'd read Jane Eyre in highschool? I turned up my nose at this "girl's classic" and consequently didn't meet the aspects of my personality that were reflected in Jane Eyre's aloofness and Rochester's lack of social graces, standing in the way of romance. I was too proud by far and too expectant of destiny by half, showcasing all the faults of both major characters. Unlike Jane, I didn't come to my senses until much later. More young men should be encouraged (and by 'encouraged' I mean 'forced') to read and absorb this stuff.

I reluctantly watched the 2011 movie last year at my wife's bidding, and it’s a good thing I did. It was the best movie of the year, imo. No reluctance prevented me reading the novel and indulging in every detail the movie couldn't incorporate. The fortune teller scene is a bit of brilliance, a perfect example of something that lights up the page but would do nothing for the screen. It features a haunting quote: to paraphrase, "all the pieces for happiness are there, only parted a little by happenstance. It takes only the slightest effort to unite them." How many regrets about the past did that instantly bring to mind? Happily all turned out well for me in the end, as it does for Jane. She was far better and faster at nudging those pieces together, compared to which I could fault myself. Then again, she did have the help of that mysteriously disembodied voice calling her. Maybe that's what I was waiting for.
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LibraryThing member Kasthu
Oh, Jane Eyre, how do I love thee? The first time I read this book was in middle school; then I read it twice in high school and once in college. The recent movie adaptation inspired me to re-read this book after an eight-year gap since my last reading.

I won’t go into the plot since it’s one of those plots that most people in the English-speaking world seem to know (even if they haven’t read the book), and one of those plots that resonates throughout English literature. Suffice it to say that Jane Eyre is one of those books that stands up to the test of time well—not just historically but personally as well. It captured my imagination as a teenager; and, as I’ve been dealing with some recent emotional disappointment, there are some quotes in Jane Eyre that really seemed to reflect my mood—especially when the house party is held at Thornfield and Jane reflects on her new-found feelings for Mr. Rochester—that she believes are unreturned:

It does good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly intend to marry her; and it is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, must devour the life that feeds it; and, if discovered and responded to, must lead, ignis-fatuus-like, into miry wilds whence there is no extrication (Ch. 16)

Or how about:

I had not intended to love him: the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germ of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me. (Ch. 17)

Or one of my favorites:

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....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, too 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….knitting stockings….playing on the piano….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.- (Ch. 12)

How can you not love a book that speaks to your mood, no matter what it is? I think also the appeal to this book for me lies in the fact that I identify so much with Jane herself; I see a lot of myself in her personality. She’s such an introspective person, someone who experiences emotion strongly; but it’s very quietly experienced, which is probably why that emotion is so strongly felt in the first place. There’s so little opportunity for Jane to emote that when she experiences feelings for Mr. Rochester, she doesn’t expect it. Jane's feelings of being a social outsider is very familiar, to me, too. I love a novel that, even after reading it five times, causes me to see the book anew each time I read it.
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LibraryThing member jenieliser
I read this book years ago, but apparently I just blitzed it. I read it again last week-I couldn't put it down! I loved every minute of it (I wasn't thrilled to read to youger years but it explained so much about her adulthood).
She is such a unique character-so strong and yet weak at the same time. I loved her. Oh! And Mr. Rochester....sigh... What a wonderful character! I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the novel. I liked his somewhat abrasive personality. I'm a sucker for a rude, sarcastic, somewhat proud man (in books at least) :) The cool thing about their relationship is neither of them forced the other to change. He tried to make her change but I'm pretty sure the whole time he knew she wouldn't.
Read it! And when you're done and can't stop thinking about it, read it again! :D
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LibraryThing member rainpebble
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; 5 stars

One of THE best books I have ever read or in this case reread.

Jane is a poor orphan fobbed off at a very early age on a nice uncle & a bitchy aunt who have 3 abominable children. The uncle dies but makes his wife promise to always keep & care for Jane. That lasts a few miserable years until the aunt, through correspondence, finds a poorly run boarding school for Jane that will keep her holidays as well. She wants never to see her again.
So Jane goes to the boarding school where she works hard, learns well, is always hungry & often cold. She remains there studies hard & becomes a teacher there for an additional 2 years at which time she posts an advertisement for a position as governess.
She is hired by a Mrs Fairfax of Thornfield to become governess to a young girl, Adelle, who is a ward of the owner of Thornfield but the Master is rarely there. Jane is very happy in her new position but when the Master returns home she cannot help falling in love with him. She keeps this close to her vest. Little does she know that he has fallen in love with her as well.
In her room at night, Jane begins to hear strange cries, howls & noises from overhead. She knows that there is someone up on the 3rd floor but is told that it is a servant who keeps mainly to herself and indeed she does see Mrs. Poole occasionally going to & from that floor carrying items.
When Jane learns who is actually living in that upper abode she is heartbroken and feels she cannot remain. So the girl takes the poor things she arrived with and the few pennies she has and leaves, catching a coach that will take her as far away as her funds will allow. As she is let off the coach she forgets her little bundle and now all she has are the clothes on her back.
Jane walks & forages for food for about 3 days. She looks for work, finding only rejection. She begs food and is given bread crumbs. Finally one stormy night when she is so poorly she feels she can go no further she sees a light in the distance. She follows the light and comes upon a cottage in the wood where as she looks through the window she sees 2 young ladies that she is sure are sisters, for they look so much alike, and an elderly lady that she assumes is their mother, guardian or servant. She knocks on the door, is turned away & the door shut upon her. Jane is so ill, weak & weary that she collapses on the stoop.
The next thing she is aware of is a gentleman coming upon her, & helping her into the warm kitchen where now she is fed some warm milk & bread & is taken up to a warm bedroom, changed into dry sleeping clothes and put to bed where she remains ill & out of her head for several days. She is cared for by all of the inhabitants of the house. As she begins to get stronger she is allowed to sit up and eventually she feels well enough to get up, dressed & go downstairs where she joins the servant in the snug, warm kitchen.
She is accepted by this family and kept there for some time. The gentleman, who is a brother to the girls, finds work teaching for her along with a wee cottage of her own.
She lives thus for some time.
I will stop here, dear reader, for to go on would tell you more than you would wish to hear at this point.
This is one of the best books I have ever read and I very highly recommend it to young and old alike.
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LibraryThing member Smiler69
Hard to believe now that when I originally read this novel in my high school days back in the early 80s, I somehow managed to find it boring! That combined with a very poor memory meant that I was more or less starting over with a clean slate, since I could barely remember any details, save for what it was that Rochester was hiding up on the third floor...

At the beginning of the novel, we meet Jane Eyre when she is but a ten-year-old girl, orphaned and living with an aunt and cousins who despise and mistreat her. She is then packed off to school at Lowood, a charitable institution where life is hardly any better, with little to eat and rules dictated by the unpleasant clergyman in charge Mr. Brocklehurst, which are all aimed at the mortification of body and soul. Indeed, conditions are so poor that Jane narrowly escapes a typhus epidemic that decimates nearly half the inmates. However, Jane is a clever and naturally curious girl, making her an ideal student, and by her eighteenth year she has taken on teaching duties. She decides to advertise for a post as a governess in the papers, and with the first response she gets, packs her meagre belongings and makes her way to Thornfield Hall, excited at the prospect of a new life. Her charge is a little French girl named Adèle, who may or may not be the daughter of the rich master of the house, Edward Rochester. Mr Rochester is an unpleasant, arrogant and physically unappealing man whom Jane nonetheless becomes irresistibly attracted to and soon falls helplessly in love with. However, there are dangerous and unexplained events taking place in the house, which nobody ever speaks of, and on the day that should be the happiest in the young woman's life, secrets are revealed which set in motion a series of events which will forever alter the courses of many lives.

I was captivated with Charlotte Brontë's heroine from the moment we were introduced to her. Jane is an independents spirit, a smart girl with a strong sense of morals who has met with more than her fair share of bad luck, and it's impossible not to feel intense sympathy for her cause. She is both naive and infinitely wise beyond her years, and while the young woman is very much bound by the conventions of her time, the fact that she must follow her heart at every turn pushes her to act in surprising ways and make choices that seem unbearably difficult, which of course makes for great storytelling. Brontës vivid descriptions of the surroundings help us place the action in time and place, but also serve to give us much information about the character's inner workings. I was delighted to discover upon this second reading, that I had forgotten all of the second half of the story, in which Jane's quest for belonging and family rang all too true. I was also surprised with an ending which confirmed to me that my romantic heart and yearnings have not died away completely. The only reason I am not giving this now favourite novel a full five stars is for a technicality having to do with the very last sentences in the novel, which to me, as a non-Christian, seemed contrived for their sudden reference to a religion that Jane Eyre does not espouse anywhere else in the novel.

Listening to the excellent actress Juliet Stevenson narrate this story with her trademark rich, smooth voice, truly made this excellent story all the more pleasant to rediscover. That being said, I can't wait to read Jane Eyre again as a traditional book for the great pleasure of re-reading favourite passages of Brontës mellifluous prose.
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LibraryThing member lyzadanger
Funny how a book written 160 years ago can be this eyebrow-raising. I actually found myself saying to myself (almost out loud): "Oh no she didn't" and "She slept where?!" and "He said what?!" Compared to Austen (who, granted, wrote 40 years earlier), which I've been reading lots of lately, this is raunchy stuff.

It's also remarkably plot-driven, much to my relief. And the plot (again to compare to Jane Austen) broaches the boundaries of mere courtships and the quotidian. A few true twists happen. There are indeed still long passages of description (enjoyable, still) and religious reflection (less enjoyable to me), but mostly, we're talking page-turner here.

In true Victorian literature fashion, expect some improbable coincidences and melodrama. But what Brontë excels at here--I mean really excels!--is character development. Some of the dialog in Jane Eyre is so good it's obvious that no one would ever actually SAY that, but it's still so good. Brontë manages to make middle-aged Rochester kind of hot, and then there's the surprisingly full-sketched figure of St. John Rivers.

All in all, I can say this wasn't what I expected, and mostly in a good way. Having read Dickens, Thackeray (contemporaries) and Austen (earlier) this year, Brontë really stood out on her own, with a strong, engaging style.
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LibraryThing member Summer_Missfictional
I don't normally review classics, but here goes.

Here in the US, I'm fairly sure the works of the Bronte sisters are commonly dubbed as required reading alongside other classics, and for this reason are unjustly spared with naught but a single glance by young adult readers.

After being recommended this novel several times, I decided to give it a try. It hadn't yet been assigned for my English class as of yet, thankfully, so I was able to read the novel without outside force or the fright of a looming reading test. I read it at my own pace, with no pressure whatsoever.

And you know what? I'm so glad I caught the book before it was assigned for school. I was able to drown in the beauty of Charlotte Bronte's writing and gain the acquaintance of the wonderful protagonist, Jane Eyre (who is, ahem, my bestie). I swooned at Mr. Rochester and highlighted passages (something I NEVER do) and stayed up through the night discreetly turning the pages.

Some may complain of the pages upon pages of descriptions. I didn't love it - I adored it. Bronte's writing style is unbeatable in so many ways and kept me enthralled when the plot meandered.

I have found a favorite novel. Words cannot do this novel justice - and I say this without caring whether or not it is cliched because it is so utterly true.
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LibraryThing member justabookreader
Jane Eyre is a book I’ve owned for many years. My mother bought it for me as part of a boxed set of classics that included Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Well meaning that I can be sometimes, I wanted to read it, but something new always appeared on the shelf and I never got around to it. A few weeks ago I decided that I would read it, and assuage a little guilt as well since I was starting to see it each time I looked at the shelf and realized that once again I hadn’t read it.

Jane is a young orphan being raised by an aunt who can’t stand her. After an incident with her cousin, her aunt sends her off to Lowood School where Jane finds a life as a teacher. Wanting a new experience, she sets out to find a governess position and unexpectedly finds a home, a life, love, and heartbreak. In the midst of her most heartbreaking moment, she stumbles upon unknown family members, rebuilds herself but knows that in the end she must follow her heart even if it means ruin for her battered feelings.

Those few sentences were so difficult to write. I realize many people already know the story so I didn’t want to drone on about the plot and I also didn’t want to give too much away for the few of you out there that were like me and kept putting it off. There are so many wonderful moments in this story that in order to truly appreciate how lovely, haunting, and beautiful it is, you must read it. Which brings me to a new dilemma --- how do I talk about this book without getting all saccharine and sloppy on you?

You see, I adored this book. I adored Jane. She’s feisty, stubborn, generous, loving, understanding, and loyal. As a child she hates her family, with good reason as they are abominable people, but when she arrives at Lowood School, despite a cruel headmaster, she flourishes. She finds friends who believe in her, her kindness shines like a beacon, and she’s adventurous wanting to experience life outside of the comfortable walls of the school. When she arrives at Thornfield to become a governess to a young French girl, she’s strict yet fun making Adele fall in love with her. The servants at the house become a family of sorts to her and for the first time in her life Jane enjoys being at home. The master of Thornfield, Rochester, however, is another issue. Jane explicitly describes him in a way that makes him seem revolting but she herself is in love with him. You see through her descriptions to the love she feels but when it ends in heartbreak, she leaves and you want to cry with her. In her darkest moments, she still feels loyalty to those she loves and I wanted to yell at her. She’s too smart for her own good but that’s why she is so likable. When things are most horrid, she somehow perseveres and that staunchness is something you come to appreciate.

Characters are what make a story for me and Jane has found a place in my heart as a favorite character. There are so many things in her path but she still finds the good in people, even ones that have hurt her, and she has incredible strength. I admired her for her ability to calmly make decisions and stick with her convictions even when it meant living with nothing but the clothes on her back. When Jane finds her happy ending (don’t worry the spoiler lover in me won’t say more), I also wanted to cry for her. She had been through too much for it to be any other way.

Jane Eyre, a book that I will be reading again and probably sooner rather than later.
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LibraryThing member jintster
I bought this in preparation for reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I was bowled over by the lyrical but precise prose and the perfectly paced plotting. Jane is a splendid heroine. At its heart this novel is about Jane's struggle to secure a balance between her passionate. loving nature and her puritanical, moral core. How is she to reconcile her duty to her self with her happiness? Jane's struggle is complex and is explored by similar characters by other great women writers of the C19th - for example Dorothea in Middlemarch and Margaret in North and South. Jane Eyre is an easy read - I tore through it in a few days but it should probably be digested more slowly given its depth.

One minor irritation is the marketing of the book, at least my Penguin edition. The publishers seem to think that Bronte, like Austen, is suitable only for women, with several blurbs about Jane Eyre turning girls into women. This is too good a book to be pigeonholed in such a way. It is not proto-chicklit, it's a great classic which speaks to all of humanity not just half of it.
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LibraryThing member TineOliver
I picked up Jane Eyre wanting to love it - I'd recently reread Pride and Prejudice when a friend suggested that if I appreciated P&P, that I'd care for Jane even more. Perhaps my expectation of love was the reason that I ultimately didn't.

At times, I found it difficult to identify with Jane's character - too impotent to stand up for herself at times when such may have improved her situation, too discordant at times when it would have been prudent to say nothing. However, as Jane's character matured throughout the novel, I found this less of an issue.

The greatest problem I have with the novel is the central Jane/Rochester relationship - while others describe the two as equally flawed, a description with which I do not disagree - I can not help but feel Mr Rochester is one of the most selfish heroes of literature. Others may argue that there is an interdependence between the two, and to some degree I can see this - Mr Rochester needs and Jane needs to feel needed, but for me, therein lies the problem. Jane wants to be with Mr Rochester to make Mr Rochester happy, while Mr Rochester wants to be with Jane to make himself happy. This, in addition to the fact that he clearly lied to her for his benefit not hers.

Despite this, Jane Eyre is still a reasonable read, but I just did not find the love of the novel I was looking for.
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LibraryThing member Maggie21
Her style of writing is wonderful. I love how she really makes you love the characters and feel their feelings. Charlotte Brontë is one of the best writers of all time. Jane Eyre will always be a classic.
LibraryThing member LeeHallison
Read this with a mom-teen book club, very interesting to see young teenagers' reactions. Several didn't like the power relationship between Mr. Rochester & Jane, didn't feel he treated her well, and the fact that their roles were reversed at the end didn't sway their initial opinion that he wasn't a good match for Jane. The adults all loved the romance, of course. What does that say?… (more)
LibraryThing member HighTekky
One of my all-time favorites!!
LibraryThing member yearningtoread
By far one of the best books I've ever read!

Jane Eyre, a girl of no importance and the daughter of an unapproved match, lives a troubled life for her first ten years under her aunt’s roof. Her parents died when she was a baby and she was left as Aunt Reed’s charge with no other living relatives that she knew of. When her aunt can no longer stand Jane any more, she sends her to a boarding school where the rules are strict and the headmaster is every bit the tyrant Aunt Reed was. But Jane conquers, becomes a teacher, and then wishes to become a private tutor. After her ad is received and her application accepted, Jane finds herself in the home of a mysterious and strange man, Mr. Rochester, who has put his ward, Adele, under Jane’s tutelage. But then Jane finds herself falling deeply in love with Mr. Rochester, who she could not imagine would love her in return. This, and the strange happenings in Thornfield Hall, give Jane cause to doubt her future. And when Mr. Rochester’s dark secret reveals itself, Jane must question her love and discover what she must do with her life before she can find the happiness she never had.

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This is one of those “Can words describe?” books. And while I feel there aren’t very many words that do an adequate job, I will try my best.

Can you believe that I haven’t read this book yet? I can’t. For years, people have been telling me, ”Sierra, you have to read this book.” ”Sierra, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read.” ”Oh my GOSH! You haven’t read Jane Eyre?!” ”What are you waiting for, you, the reader, of all people?”

So here I am, having read (devoured) the long awaited book that has been loved, cried and giggled over by hordes. And I’m here to tell you people who have not yet read this book – “What. In the world. Are. You. Waiting for?!” (I know…I’m one to talk…but now I know how everyone else feels! haha!)

Throughout the course of the book, I got choked up. But there was too much ahead to slow down, stop, and actually cry. However…when I got to the last chapter, I lost it. Tears came and the two-year-old little boy I was babysitting put down his yogurt and stared at me, head cocked to the side, probably completely confused as to why I was smiling and crying at the same time. After all the heartache and sadness, and even the little bits of joy in between, the happiness of the end just overwhelmed me. It was just too beautiful to not feel that way – there was so much emotion in my heart that I felt it would almost burst.

Jane is a character I look up to – I want to be like her. Her decisiveness, her courage, her resolution, her faith…it amazed me, and amazes me still, even after the book has been set back on the shelf. She knew what she had to do and she did it – no matter the cost. And the way she loved everyone so unconditionally – especially Mr. Rochester – continually surprised me. Her kind heart, her gentle but firm manner, and her intense love… Wow. I also loved her close study of human nature and how she described and saw people – why she was intrigued by them.

Mr. Rochester himself is quite a character. Going into this story, I was NOT expecting him to be the least like he was – physically ugly and mentally independent. He was strange, but yet so perfect for the story. In all my travels through literature, I’ve never met a character like him, and I doubt I ever will again. That character will always be embodied by Mr. Rochester alone. I easily fell for him as Jane did; her love for him was pure; she never once judged him for his faults; she loved him all the more for them. The reader cannot help but feeling the same. I loved seeing his pride break down, slowly but surely, and the way he described the experience after. It was just amazing.

As far as the story line and the writing… Both were equally magnificent. The story captured me from the first, especially when I expected the novel to begin when she was older. But I loved every bit of it – every second was glorious, and painful and lovely. I cared for Jane so much that it didn’t matter what she was doing – I wanted to read about her. And Mr. Rochester and St. John and Adele and everyone else. The writing was incredible, down to the very last word. I loved how she wrote most of the time in past tense, and then sometimes slipped smoothly into present tense, showing the reader exactly what it felt like, to be doing instead of remembering. I’m actually not a huge fan of present tense, but this was so perfect I just couldn’t resist liking it.

Favorite character: Mr. Rochester because of his originality…and how much I loved his character within the first few pages of his introduction.

Favorite aspect: DUH! The love story, of course! Totally intriguing the way it was played out, the intensity of Mr. Rochester’s secret hanging over it part of the time, the rest being Jane’s own doubts about Mr. Rochester’s nature or her sadness over him being engaged to a woman who would not and could not love him – and who he had no passion for either. Oh my gosh this story had me in its clutches and didn’t let me go!!!

There are no single words to describe this book. Magnificent and heart-pounding and gut-wrenching are about the best I can do. They are true – as true as true can be – but there is something about the book that can only be felt and understood by reading it yourself. It’s not anything that can be described – it’s an experience. One that I can’t wait to relive again and again and again!!
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LibraryThing member Talbin
I was most pleasantly surprised with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, which I just read for the first time. For some reason, I expected a combination of Wuthering Heights (which I didn’t like as well as I thought I would) and Dickens (who I generally don’t love). On the contrary, Jane Eyre is not derivative of anything – Charlotte Bronte has her own viewpoint and style, and with Jane Eyre she has created a unique coming-of-age tale.

SPOILERS

The book is divided into five major parts: 1. Orphan Jane lives with Mrs. Reed, her aunt, and the three Reed children. Mrs. Reed despises Jane and treats her terribly, eventually sending her away to school. 2. Jane goes to Lowood Institution, a Christian charity school that doesn’t seem to have a lot of Christian values or charity toward its wards. After a typhus epidemic, the school is much improved. Jane stays at Lowood, eventually becoming a teacher. 3. Jane wants to see more of the world, so advertises for a governess position. She is hired at Thornfield Manor, where Mr. Edward Rochester lives with his French ward, Adele Varens, the housekeeper Alice Fairfax, and his servants. Eventually Jane and Edward fall in love and Edward proposes. However, there is a slight problem – Mr. Rochester already married to a madwoman who lives on the third floor. 4. Jane runs away and is rescued by the Rivers family, three siblings who take her in and treat her well. In the meantime, through a series of coincidences, Jane inherits money. The brother, St. John, installs Jane as the village teacher. He also tries to convince her to marry him and accompany him on his mission to India. Jane does not love St. John and knows that he does not love her, so refuses. 5. Jane realizes who she truly loves, and journeys to find Edward Rochester, whose wife has since died in a deadly fire that also leaves Rochester blinded and without a hand. They marry and live happily ever after.

For me, one of the biggest surprises in reading Jane Eyre was that there was so much more to the novel than just the love story between Jane and Rochester. In reality, the section at Thornfield is about half the novel. Another surprise was that there were few scenes on the “wild moors.” In fact, Jane Eyre is much more of an internal story. Although “nature” is invoked, it is almost always human nature, not outside nature. And perhaps most surprising (at least to me) was that Bertha Mason, Rochester’s crazy wife, really didn’t play a major role in the novel. Yes, her existence caused some major problems, but for whatever reason I thought she would be a major character, too.

Charlotte Bronte explores many themes throughout the novel, including religion, love (romantic and familial), a woman’s place in society, the role of family in society, and the psychological reasons people do the things they do (human nature). On this first reading, I think I was most struck by Bronte’s exploration of the role of religion and its affects on people of different personalities, and the study of women’s place in society. With religion, it seems that Bronte is showing how extremes can be not only restricting and rigid (St. John) but downright cruel (Mr. Brocklehurst and his Lowood school). And the entire book is about Jane’s journey to find her place in society, and in so doing, Bronte advocates for women to be allowed to find useful pursuits that allow them to contribute to society. Of course, there is so much more here, but this is only a review!

I only had a few quibbles, mostly with the coincidences at the end. These strained credulity just a bit. However, by this time I was so absorbed with the novel that I was quite willing to suspend disbelief.

Overall, Jane Eyre is a great book, one I would happily read again.
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LibraryThing member jfetting
I'm sure I don't have anything to add that hasn't been said already about this book, so I'll just add my opinion. This is one of the greatest books ever written. Even with the lengthy St. John Rivers part (admittedly tedious.) I've read it every year since I was about 13, and it improves with time. To this day, I'm astonished to find people who HAVEN'T read it, since it was such an important part of my life. The 8 people who rated this 1/2 star completely blow my mind. Who ARE you people?… (more)

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