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Encyclopedia > Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre

Title page of the first edition of Jane Eyre
Author Charlotte Brontë
Country England
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Smith Elder and Co., Cornhill
Publication date 16 October 1847
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)

Jane Eyre is an 1847 novel by Charlotte Brontë, published by Smith, Elder & Company, London. It is one of the most famous of British novels. Charlotte Brontë first published the book as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography under the pseudonym Currer Bell. The novel was an immediate critical and popular success. Especially effusive in his praises was William Makepeace Thackeray, to whom Charlotte Brontë dedicated the novel's second edition, which was illustrated by F. H. Townsend. // Jane Eyre commonly refers to: Jane Eyre, the novel by Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre may also refer to: Film and television Jane Eyre (1910 film), directed by Mario Caserini Jane Eyre (1914 Universal film), starring Ethel Grandin Jane Eyre (1914 Blinkhorn film), with Irving Cummings Jane Eyre (1915 film), with... Image File history File links Jane_Eyre_title_page. ... Charlotte Brontë (IPA: ) (April 21, 1816 – March 31, 1855) was an English novelist and the eldest of the three Brontë sisters whose novels have become enduring classics of English literature. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... For other uses, see Novel (disambiguation). ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Hardcover books A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) is a book bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... 1847 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... For other uses, see Novel (disambiguation). ... Charlotte Brontë (IPA: ) (April 21, 1816 – March 31, 1855) was an English novelist and the eldest of the three Brontë sisters whose novels have become enduring classics of English literature. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... For other uses, see Alias. ... William Makepeace Thackeray (July 18, 1811 – December 24, 1863) was a British novelist of the 19th century. ...


Plot introduction

Jane Eyre is a first-person narrative of the title character, a small, plain-faced, intelligent, and passionate English orphan girl. The plot follows the form of a Bildungsroman, a novel that tells the story of a child's maturation and focuses on the emotions and experiences that lead to her maturity. The novel goes through five distinct stages: (1) Jane's childhood at Gateshead, where she is abused by her aunt and cousin; (2) her education at Lowood School, where she acquires friends and role models but also suffers privations; (3) her time as governess at Thornfield Manor, where she falls in love with her Byronic employer, Edward Rochester; (4) her time with the Rivers family at Marsh's End (or Moor House) and at Morton, where her cold clergyman-cousin St. John Rivers proposes to her; and (5) her reunion with and marriage to her beloved Rochester at his house of Ferndean. Partly autobiographical, the novel abounds with social criticism and sinister Gothic elements. A Bildungsroman (IPA: /, German: novel of self-cultivation) is a novelistic variation of the monomyth that concentrates on the spiritual, moral, psychological, or social development and growth of the protagonist usually from childhood to maturity. ... The Byronic hero is an idealized, but flawed, character exemplified in the life and writings of Lord Byron, characterized by his ex-lover Lady Caroline Lamb as being mad, bad and dangerous to know.[1] The Byronic hero first appears in Byrons semi-autobiographical epic narrative poem Childe Harold... Strawberry Hill, an English villa in the Gothic revival style, built by seminal Gothic writer Horace Walpole Gothic fiction is an important genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. ...

Jane Eyre is divided into 38 chapters, and most editions are at least 400 pages long (although the preface and introduction on some copies can take up another 100). In the original version, Jane Eyre was published in three volumes: Volume One (Chapter 1 - Chapter 15), Volume Two (Chapter 16 - Chapter 26), Volume Three (Chapter 27 - Chapter 38).

Plot summary

There 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 out-door exercise was now out of the question.

Excerpt from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, beginning of chapter 1

The novel begins in Gateshead Hall, where a ten-year-old orphan named Jane Eyre is living with her mother's brother's family. The brother, surnamed Reed, dies shortly after adopting Jane. His wife, Mrs. Sarah Reed, and their three children (John, Eliza and Georgiana) neglect and abuse Jane, for they resent Mr. Reed's preference for the little orphan in their midst. In addition, they dislike Jane's plain looks and quiet yet passionate character. Thus, the novel begins with young John Reed bullying Jane, who retaliates with unwanted violence. Jane is blamed for the ensuing fight, and Mrs. Reed has two of the servants drag her off and lock her up in the red-room, the unused chamber where Mr. Reed had died. Still locked in that night, Jane sees a light and panics, thinking that her uncle's ghost has come. Her scream rouses the house, but Mrs. Reed just locks up Jane for longer. Then Jane has a fit and passes out. A doctor, Mr. Lloyd, comes to Gateshead Hall and suggests that Jane go to school. Information Gender Female Age About 18 Occupation Governess Title Miss Relationships Edward Rochester Address England Created by Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre is the heroine of Charlotte Brontes 1847 novel of that name, Jane Eyre. ...

Mr. Brocklehurst is a cold, cruel, self-righteous, and highly hypocritical clergyman who runs a charity school called Lowood. He accepts Jane as a pupil in his school. Jane is infuriated, however, when Mrs. Reed tells him, falsely, that Jane is a liar. After Brocklehurst departs, Jane bluntly tells Mrs. Reed how she hates the Reed family. Mrs. Reed, so shocked that she is scarcely capable of responding, leaves the drawing room in haste.

Jane finds life at Lowood to be grim. Miss Maria Temple, the youthful superintendent, is just and kind, but another teacher, Miss Scatcherd, is sour and abusive. Mr. Brocklehurst, visiting the school for an inspection, has Jane placed on a tall stool before the entire assemblage. He then tells them that "...this girl, this child, the native of a Christian land, worse than many a little heathen who says its prayers to Brahma and kneels before Juggernaut–this girl is–a liar!"

Later that day, Miss Temple allows Jane to speak in her own defense. After Jane does so, Miss Temple writes to Mr. Lloyd. His reply agrees with Jane's, and she is cleared of Mr. Brocklehurst's accusation.

Mr. Brocklehurst embezzles the school's funds to support his family's luxurious lifestyle while hypocritically preaching to others a doctrine of privation and poverty. As a result, Lowood's eighty pupils must make do with cold rooms, poor meals, and thin garments whilst his family lives in comfort. The majority become sick from a typhus epidemic that strikes the school.

Jane is impressed with one pupil, Helen Burns, who accepts Miss Scatcherd's cruelty and the school's deficiencies with passive dignity, practicing the Christian teaching of turning the other cheek. Jane admires and loves the gentle Helen and they become best friends, but Jane cannot bring herself to emulate her friend's behavior. While the typhus epidemic is raging, Helen dies of consumption in Jane's arms.

Many die in the typhus epidemic, and Mr. Brocklehurst's neglect and dishonesty are laid bare. Several rich and kindly people donate to put up a new school building in a more healthful location. New rules are made, and improvements in diet and clothing are introduced. Though Mr. Brocklehurst cannot be overlooked, due to his wealth and family connections, new people are brought in to share his duties of treasurer and inspector, and conditions improve dramatically at Lowood.

The narrative resumes eight years later. Jane has been a teacher at Lowood for two years, but she thirsts for a better and brighter future. She advertises for a governess and is hired by Mrs. Alice Fairfax, housekeeper of the Gothic manor of Thornfield, to teach a rather spoiled but amiable little French girl named Adèle Varens. A few months after her arrival at Thornfield, Jane goes for a walk and aids a horseman who takes a fall. He is rude to her and calls her a 'witch' but she helps him back on the horse. On her return to Thornfield, Jane discovers that the horseman is her employer, Mr. Edward Rochester, a moody, charismatic gentleman nearly twenty years older than Jane. Adèle is his ward.

Rochester seems quite taken with Jane. He repeatedly summons her to his presence and talks with her. Adèle, he says, is the illegitimate daughter of a French opera singer, Celine, who was his mistress for a time, though he doubts Adèle is his daughter. That same night, Jane hears eerie laughter coming from the hallway, and upon opening the door she sees smoke coming from Rochester's chamber. Rushing into his room, she finds his bed curtains ablaze and douses them with water, saving Rochester's life. Rochester says a matronly servant named Grace Poole is responsible, yet does not fire her, and Grace Poole shows no signs of remorse or guilt. Jane is amazed and perplexed. But by this time, Rochester and Jane are in love with each other, though they do not show it.

Soon after the fire incident, Mr. Rochester departs Thornfield, reportedly to the Continent. He returns expectedly with a party of high-class ladies and gentlemen, including Miss Blanche Ingram, a beautiful but shallow socialite whom he seems to be courting. The party is interrupted when a strange old gypsy woman arrives and insists on telling everyone's fortunes. When Jane's turn comes, the gypsy tells her a great deal about her life and feelings, much to Jane's surprise. Then the gypsy reveals "herself" to be Rochester in disguise.

That night, after a piercing scream wakes everyone in the house, Mr. Rochester comes to Jane for help in attending to a wounded guest, a certain Mr. Richard Mason, a queer Englishman from the West Indies. Mr. Mason has been stabbed and bitten in the arm, and a surgeon comes and secretly whisks the wounded man away. Again, Rochester hints that Grace Poole is responsible.

Jane receives word that Mrs. Reed, upon hearing of her son John's apparent suicide after leading a life of dissipation and debt, has suffered a near-fatal stroke and is asking for her. So Jane returns to Gateshead, where she encounters her cousins Eliza and Georgiana Reed. Eliza has become a self-righteous puritan. Georgiana, much admired for her beauty in London a season or two ago, has become plump and vapid, always moaning about her love affair with Lord Edwin Vere. Eliza, out of envy, had prevented their marriage. The two sisters despise each other and are barely on speaking terms.

Although she rejects Jane's efforts at reconciliation, Mrs. Reed gives Jane a letter that she had previously withheld out of spite. The letter is from Jane's father's brother, John Eyre, notifying her of his intent to leave her his fortune upon his death. Mrs. Reed dies in the night, and no one mourns her. Eliza enters a convent in France, and Georgiana travels to London, eventually marrying a wealthy but worn-out society man.

After Jane returns to Thornfield, she and Rochester gradually reveal their love for each other. Though Jane accepts Rochester's proposal of marriage, she is plagued by doubts about it. She feels she is Rochester's inferior and continues to address him as "master" even after they are engaged. Her forebodings deepen when a strange, savage-looking woman sneaks into her room one night and rips her wedding veil in two. Yet again, Rochester attributes the incident to Grace Poole.

The wedding goes ahead nevertheless. But during the ceremony in the church, the mysterious Mr. Mason and a lawyer step forth and declare that Rochester cannot marry Jane because his own wife is still alive. Rochester bitterly admits this fact, explaining that his wife is a violent madwoman whom he keeps imprisoned in the attic, where Grace Poole looks after her. But Grace Poole imbibes gin immoderately, occasionally giving the madwoman an opportunity to escape. It is Rochester's mad wife who is responsible for the strange events at Thornfield. Rochester nearly committed bigamy, and kept this fact from Jane. The wedding is cancelled, and Jane is heartbroken.

Back at the manorhouse, Rochester explains further. Under pressure from his father to make an advantageous marriage, and lured by Bertha's vast inheritance and personal beauty, Rochester had as a young man married Bertha. When Bertha became openly insane, Rochester locked her up in Thornfield and departed for a life of sensuality in Europe.

Rochester then asks Jane to accompany him to the south of France, where they will live as husband and wife, even though they cannot be married. But Jane refuses to give up her self-respect by becoming a rich man's mistress, even though she loves him still.

But she does not trust herself to refuse a second time. In the dead of night, Jane slips out of Thornfield and takes a coach far away to the north of England. When her money gives out, she sleeps outdoors on the moor and reluctantly begs for food. One night, freezing and starving, she comes to Moor House (or Marsh End) and begs for help. St. John Rivers, the young clergyman who lives in the house, admits her.

Jane, who gives the false surname of Elliott, quickly recovers under the care of St. John and his two kind sisters, Diana and Mary. St. John arranges for Jane to teach a charity school for girls in the village of Morton. At the school, Jane observes the interactions of St. John, a cold and stern man but a truly devout Christian, and Rosamond Oliver, a beautiful but silly young heiress. Jane comes to believe that the two are in love, and boldly says so to St John. St. John confesses his love but says that Rosamond would make a most unsuitable wife for a missionary, which he intends to become.

One snowy night, St. John unexpectedly arrives at Jane's cottage. Suspecting Jane's true identity, he relates Jane's experiences at Thornfield and says that her uncle, John Eyre, has died and left Jane his fortune of 20,000 pounds. After confessing her true identity, Jane arranges to share her inheritance with the Riverses, who turn out to be her cousins.

Not long afterwards, St. John decides to travel to India and devote his life to missionary work. He asks Jane to accompany him as his wife. Jane consents to go to India but adamantly refuses to marry him because they are not in love. St. John is not cruel or hypocritical like Mr. Brocklehurst, but he does not respect other people's feelings when they conflict with his own. He continues to pressure Jane to marry him, and his forceful personality almost causes her to capitulate. But at that moment she hears what she thinks is Rochester's voice calling her name, and this gives her the strength to reject St. John completely.

The next day, Jane takes a coach to Thornfield. But only blackened ruins lie where the manorhouse once stood. An innkeeper tells Jane that Rochester's mad wife set the fire and then committed suicide by jumping from the roof. Rochester rescued the servants from the burning mansion but lost a hand and his eyesight in the process. He now lives in an isolated manor house called Ferndean. Going to Ferndean, Jane reunites with Rochester. At first, he fears that she will refuse to marry a blind cripple, but Jane accepts him without hesitation.

Speaking from the vantage point of ten years, Jane describes their married life as blissful.

I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest—blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character—perfect concord is the result. (Chapter XXXVIII)

Meanwhile, St. John has gone to India as a missionary and dies there. However, some claim St. John does not die in the scope of the book. Jane writes, "I know that a stranger's hand will write to me next, to say that the good and faithful servant has been called at length into the joy of his Lord." (Chapter XXXVIII). While his death may be implied, it is never clearly stated.

Rochester eventually recovers sight in one eye, and can see their first-born son when the baby is born.

Character list

Jane Eyre: The protagonist and title character, orphaned as a baby. She is a plain-featured and reserved but talented, empathetic, hard-working, honest (not to say blunt), and passionate girl. Skilled at studying, drawing, and teaching, she works as a governess at Thornfield Manor and falls in love with her wealthy employer, Edward Rochester. But her strong sense of conscience does not permit her to become his mistress, and she does not return to him until his insane wife is dead and she herself has come into an inheritance. Information Gender Female Age About 18 Occupation Governess Title Miss Relationships Edward Rochester Address England Created by Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre is the heroine of Charlotte Brontes 1847 novel of that name, Jane Eyre. ...

Mr. Reed: Jane's maternal uncle. He adopts Jane when her parents die. Before his own death, he makes his wife promise to care for Jane.

Mrs. Sarah Reed: Jane's aunt by marriage, who resides at Gateshead. Because her husband insists, Mrs. Reed adopts Jane. Jane, however, receives nothing but neglect and abuse at her hands. At the age of ten, Jane is sent away to school. Years later, Jane attempts to reconcile with her aunt, but Mrs. Reed spurns her, still resenting that her husband loved Jane more than his own children. Shortly afterward, Mrs. Reed dies of a stroke.

John Reed: Mrs. Reed's son, and Jane's cousin. He is Mrs. Reed's "own darling," though he bullies Jane constantly, sometimes in his mother's presence. He goes to college, ruining himself and Gateshead through gambling. Word comes of his death; his decision to commit suicide.

Eliza Reed: Mrs. Reed's elder daughter, and Jane's cousin. Bitter because she is not as attractive as her sister, Georgiana Reed, she devotes herself self-righteously to Catholicism. After her mother's death, she enters a French convent, where she eventually becomes the Mother Superior.

Georgiana Reed: Mrs. Reed's younger daughter, and Jane's cousin. Though spiteful and insolent, she is indulged by everyone at Gateshead because of her beauty. In London, Lord Edwin Vere falls in love with her, but his relations are against their marriage. Lord Vere and Georgiana decide to elope, but Eliza finds them out. Georgiana returns to Gateshead, where she grows plump and vapid, spending most of her time talking of her love affair. After Mrs. Reed's death, she marries a wealthy but worn-out society man.

Bessie Lee: The nursemaid at Gateshead. She sometimes treats Jane kindly, telling her stories and singing her songs. Later she marries Robert Leaven.

Robert Leaven: The coachman at Gateshead, who sometimes gives Jane a ride on Georgiana's bay pony. He brings Jane to Lowood Institution. Months after she goes to Thornfield Hall, he brings her the news of John Reed's death, which had brought on Mrs. Reed's stroke.

Mr. Lloyd: A compassionate apothecary who recommends that Jane be sent to school. Later, he writes a letter to Miss Temple confirming Jane's account of her childhood and thereby clearing Jane of Mrs. Reed's charge of lying.

Mr. Brocklehurst: The arrogant, hypocritical clergyman who serves as headmaster and treasurer of Lowood School. He embezzles the school's funds in order to pay for his family's opulent lifestyle. At the same time, he preaches a doctrine of Christian austerity and self-sacrifice to everyone in hearing. When his dishonesty is brought to light, he is made to share his office of inspector and treasurer with more kindly people, who greatly improve the school.

Miss Maria Temple: The kind, attractive young superintendent of Lowood School. She recognizes Mr. Brocklehurst for the cruel hypocrite he is, and treats Jane and Helen with respect and compassion. She helps clear Jane of Mrs. Reed's false accusation of deceit.

Miss Scatcherd: A sour and vicious teacher at Lowood. She behaves with particular cruelty toward Helen, using her as a scapegoat for anything and everything.

Helen Burns: An angelic fellow-student and best friend of Jane's at Lowood School. Several years older than the ten-year-old Jane, she stoically accepts all the cruelties of the teachers and the deficiencies of the school's room and board. She refuses to hate the tyrannical Mr. Brocklehurst or the vicious Miss Scatcherd, or to complain, believing in the New Testament teaching that one should love one's enemies and turn the other cheek. Jane reveres her for her profound Christianity, even though she herself believes that returning hate for hate is necessary to prevent evil from taking over. Helen, uncomplaining as ever, dies of consumption in Jane's arms. In the book it is noted that she was buried in an unmarked grave until some years later, when a marble gravestone with her name and the word 'Resurgam' inscribed on it appears. The possible inference is that this was provided by Jane. Tuberculosis (abbreviated as TB for tubercle bacillus or Tuberculosis) is a common and deadly infectious disease caused by mycobacteria, mainly Mycobacterium tuberculosis. ... Resurgam (Latin for “I shall rise again”)... was one of the first mechanically powered submarines put to sea. ...

Edward Fairfax Rochester: The owner of Thornfield Manor, and Jane's lover and eventual husband. He possesses a strong physique and great wealth, but his face is very plain and his moods mutable. Impetuous and sensual, he falls madly in love with Jane because her simplicity, bluntness, intellectual capacity,and plainness contrast so much with those of the shallow society women he is accustomed to. But his unfortunate marriage to the maniacal Bertha Mason postpones his union with Jane, and he loses a hand and his eyesight while trying to rescue his mad wife, whom he begrudgingly married, after she sets a fire that burns down Thornfield. He is what is referred to as a Byronic hero. The Byronic hero is an idealized, but flawed, character exemplified in the life and writings of Lord Byron, characterized by his ex-lover Lady Caroline Lamb as being mad, bad and dangerous to know.[1] The Byronic hero first appears in Byrons semi-autobiographical epic narrative poem Childe Harold...

Bertha Mason: The violently insane secret wife of Edward Rochester. From the West Indies and of Creole extraction, her family possesses a strong strain of madness, which Rochester did not know until after he, lured by her wealth and beauty, had married her. Her insanity manifested itself in a few years, and Rochester resorted to imprisoning her in the attic of Thornfield Manor. But she escapes four times during the novel, and on each occasion wreaks havoc in the house, the fourth time actually burning it down and taking her own life in the process.

Adèle Varens: A naive, vivacious, rather spoiled French child to whom Jane is governess at Thornfield. She is Rochester's ward because her mother, Celine Varens, an opportunistic French opera dancer and singer, was Rochester's mistress. However, Rochester does not believe himself to be Adèle's father. Although not particularly fond of her, he nonetheless extends the little girl the best of care. In time, she grows up to be a very pleasant and well-mannered young woman.

Mrs. Alice Fairfax: An elderly widow and housekeeper of Thornfield Manor. She treats Jane kindly and respectfully, but she disapproves of Jane's engagement to Mr. Rochester. She believes that marriages should be limited to within one's own class.

Blanche Ingram: A beautiful but very shallow socialite whom Mr. Rochester appears to court in order to make Jane jealous. She despises the rather dowdy Jane, as Jane is a governess. Later Jane discovers Blanche Ingram did not love Mr. Rochester at all but rather his fortune.

Richard Mason: A strangely blank-eyed but handsome Englishman from the West Indies, he stops Jane and Rochester's wedding with the proclamation that Rochester is still married–to Bertha Mason, his sister.

St. John Eyre Rivers: A clergyman who is Jane Eyre's cousin on her father's side. He is a devout, almost fanatical Christian of Calvinistic leanings. He is charitable, honest, patient, forgiving, scrupulous, austere, and deeply moral; with these qualities alone, he would have made a saint. However, he is also proud, cold, exacting, controlling and unwilling to listen to dissenting opinions. He was in love with Rosamond Oliver, but did not propose to her because he felt that she would not be a 'suitable' wife for him. Jane venerates him and likes him, regarding him as a brother, but she refuses to marry him because he doesn't love her and is incapable of real kindness.

Diana and Mary Rivers: St. John's sisters and Jane's cousins, they are kind and intellectual young women who contrive to lead an independent life while retaining their intelligence, purity, and sense of meaning in life. Diana warns Jane against marrying her icy brother.

Grace Poole: Bertha Mason's keeper, a dowdy woman verging on middle age. She drinks gin immoderately, occasionally giving her maniacal charge a chance to escape. Rochester and Mrs. Fairfax attribute all of Bertha's misdeeds to Grace Poole.

Rosamond Oliver: The rather shallow and coquettish, but beautiful and good natured daughter of Morton's richest man. She donates the funds to launch the village school because she is in love with St. John. However, as St.John refuses to let himself love her, she in time becomes engaged to the wealthy Mr. Granby.

John Eyre: Jane's paternal uncle, who leaves her his vast fortune of 20,000 pounds. He never appears as a character. Has distant relations with St. John. Leaves him and his sisters 31 pounds and 10 shillings (i.e. 30 guineas) as a result. Jane divides her 20,000 pounds amongst the four of them (St. John, Mary, Diana and herself) leaving each of them with 5,000 pounds.


Morality: Jane refuses to become Rochester's paramour because of her "impassioned self-respect and moral conviction." She rejects St. John Rivers's puritanism as much as Rochester's libertinism. Instead, she works out a morality expressed in love, independence, and forgiveness.[1] Specifically, she forgives her cruel aunt and loves her husband, but never surrenders her independence to him, even after they are married. For he is blind, more dependent on her than she on him.

Religion: Throughout the novel, Jane endeavours to attain an equilibrium between moral duty and earthly happiness. She despises the hypocritical puritanism of Mr. Brocklehurst, and rejects St. John Rivers' cold devotion to his perceived Christian duty, but neither can she bring herself to emulate Helen Burns' turning the other cheek, although she admires Helen for it. Ultimately, she rejects these three extremes and finds a middle ground in which religion serves to curb her immoderate passions but does not repress her true self. Look up equilibrium in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Social Class: Jane's ambiguous social position—a penniless yet learned orphan from a good family—leads her to criticize discrimination based on class. Although she is educated, well-mannered, and relatively sophisticated, she is still a governess, a paid servant of low social standing, and therefore powerless. Nevertheless, Charlotte Brontë possesses certain class prejudices herself, as is made clear when Jane has to remind herself that her unsophisticated village pupils at Morton "are of flesh and blood as good as the scions of gentlest genealogy." For other uses, see Orphan (disambiguation). ...

Gender Relations: A particularly important theme in the novel is patriarchalism and Jane's efforts to assert her own identity within a male-dominated society. The three main male characters, Brocklehurst, Rochester, and St. John, try to keep Jane in a subordinate position and prevent her from expressing her own thoughts and feelings. Jane escapes Brocklehurst and rejects St. John, and she only marries Rochester once she is sure that theirs is a marriage between equals. Through Jane, Brontë refutes Victorian stereotypes about women, articulating what was for her time a radical feminist philosophy:

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 and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex. (Chapter XII)


The early sequences, in which Jane is sent to Lowood, a harsh boarding school, are derived from the author's own experiences. Helen Burns's death from consumption recalls the deaths of Charlotte Brontë's sisters Elizabeth and Maria, who died of tuberculosis in childhood as a result of the conditions at their school, the Clergy Daughters School at Cowan Bridge, near Tunstall in Lancashire. Mr. Brocklehurst is based on Rev. William Carus Wilson (1791-1859), the Evangelical minister who ran the school, and Helen Burns is likely modelled on Charlotte's sister Maria. Additionally, John Reed's decline into alcoholism and dissolution recalls the life of Charlotte's brother Branwell, who became an opium and alcohol addict in the years preceding his death. Finally, like Charlotte, Jane becomes a governess. These facts were revealed to the public in The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857) by Charlotte's friend and fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell.[2] Tuberculosis (abbreviated as TB for tubercle bacillus or Tuberculosis) is a common and deadly infectious disease caused by mycobacteria, mainly Mycobacterium tuberculosis. ... Cowan Bridge is a hamlet in the English county of Lancashire. ... Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England, bounded to the west by the Irish Sea. ... Elizabeth Gaskell, in the 1832 miniature by William John Thomson Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (née Stevenson; 29 September 1810–12 November 1865), often referred to simply as Mrs. ...

The Gothic manor of Thornfield was probably inspired by North Lees Hall, near Hathersage in the Peak District. This was visited by Charlotte Brontë and her friend Ellen Nussey in the summer of 1845 and described by Ellen Nussey in a letter dated 22 July 1845. It was the residence of the Eyre family and its first owner Agnes Ashurst was reputedly confined as a lunatic in a padded second floor room.[2] Hathersage (from heathers edge) is a village in Derbyshire Peak District, in England. ... The Peak District is an upland area in central and northern England, lying mainly in northern Derbyshire, but also covering parts of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, and South and West Yorkshire. ... Charlotte Brontë (IPA: ) (April 21, 1816 – March 31, 1855) was an English novelist and the eldest of the three Brontë sisters whose novels have become enduring classics of English literature. ... is the 203rd day of the year (204th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1845 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ...

Literary motifs and allusions

Jane Eyre uses many motifs from Gothic fiction, such as the Gothic manor (Thornfield), the Byronic hero (Rochester and Jane herself) and The Madwoman in the Attic (Bertha), whom Jane perceives as resembling "the foul German spectre—the vampire" (Chapter XXV) and who attacks her brother in a distinctly vampiric way: "She sucked the blood: she said she'd drain my heart" (Chapter XX). There is also reference to the unexplained phenomenon called telepathy. "I heard your voice calling me through the wind" In literature, a motif is a recurring element or theme that has symbolic significance in the story. ... Strawberry Hill, an English villa in the Gothic revival style, built by seminal Gothic writer Horace Walpole Gothic fiction is an important genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. ... The Byronic hero is an idealized, but flawed, character exemplified in the life and writings of Lord Byron, characterized by his ex-lover Lady Caroline Lamb as being mad, bad and dangerous to know.[1] The Byronic hero first appears in Byrons semi-autobiographical epic narrative poem Childe Harold... The Madwoman in the Attic : The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, published in 1979, examines Victorian literature from a feminist perspective. ...

Literary allusions from the Bible, fairy tales, The Pilgrim's Progress, Paradise Lost, and the novels and poetry of Sir Walter Scott are also much in evidence.[2] The novel also deliberately avoids some conventions of Victorian fiction, e.g., not contriving a deathbed reconciliation between Aunt Reed and Jane Eyre and avoiding the portrayal of a fallen woman. Allusion is a figure of speech, reference/representation of/to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art. ... The Pilgrims Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come by John Bunyan (published, February, 1678) is a Christian allegory. ... For other uses, see Paradise Lost (disambiguation). ... For the first Premier of Saskatchewan see Thomas Walter Scott Sir Walter Scott (August 14, 1771 - September 21, 1832) was a prolific Scottish historical novelist and poet popular throughout Europe. ...


Jane Eyre has engendered numerous adaptations and related works inspired by the novel:

Silent film versions

  • Three adaptations entitled Jane Eyre were released; one in 1910, two in 1914.
  • 1915: Jane Eyre starring Louise Vale.[1]
  • 1915: A version was released called The Castle of Thornfield.
  • 1918: A version was released called Woman and Wife.
  • 1921: Jane Eyre starring Mabel Ballin.[2]
  • 1926: A version was made in Germany called Orphan of Lowood.

A silent film is a film which has no accompanying soundtrack. ... Mabel Ballin (1 January 1887 – 24 July 1958) was an American motion-picture actress. ...

Sound film versions

1902 poster advertising Gaumonts sound films, depicting an optimistically vast auditorium A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. ... Colin Clive (20 January 1900 – 25 June 1937) was an English stage and screen actor most famous for portraying Dr. Frankenstein in James Whales two Universal Frankenstein films Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. ... Virginia Bruce (September 29, 1910–February 24, 1982) was an American actress and singer. ... Rebecca is a 1940 psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock as his first American project. ... Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock KBE (August 13, 1899 â€“ April 29, 1980) was an iconic and highly influential British-born film director and producer who pioneered many techniques in the suspense and thriller genres. ... Joan Fontaine (born October 22, 1917) is an Academy Award-winning British American actress, who became an American citizen in April 1943. ... I Walked with a Zombie is a 1943 horror film directed by Jacques Tourneur. ... Charlotte Brontës novel Jane Eyre (1847) has been the subject of numerous television and film adaptations. ... John Houseman (September 22, 1902 – October 31, 1988) was a Romanian-born actor and film producer. ... Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. ... George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an Academy Award-winning American director, writer, actor and producer for film, stage, radio and television. ... Joan Fontaine (born October 22, 1917) is an Academy Award-winning British American actress, who became an American citizen in April 1943. ... For other persons named Elizabeth Taylor, see Elizabeth Taylor (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Charlotte Brontës novel Jane Eyre (1847) has been the subject of numerous television and film adaptations. ... George Campbell Scott (October 18, 1927 - September 22, 1999) was a stage and film actor, director, and producer. ... York to the right together with Ilya Salkind on the set of Superman: The Movie, circa 1977 Susannah York (born Susannah Yolande Fletcher on January 9, 1939[1]) is an English actress. ... Telugu redirects here. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Charlotte Brontës novel Jane Eyre (1847) has been the subject of numerous television and film adaptations. ... Charlotte Brontës novel Jane Eyre (1847) has been the subject of numerous television and film adaptations. ... Franco Zeffirelli (born Gianfranco Corsi on February 12, 1923), is an Italian film director. ... William Hurt (born March 20, 1950) is an Academy Award-winning American actor. ... Charlotte Gainsbourg (born July 21, 1971) is a French actress and singer. ... For the RuPaul song, see Supermodel (You Better Work). ... Elle Macpherson (born 29 March 1964) is an Australian businesswoman, supermodel and actress. ... Anna Helene Paquin (born July 24, 1982) is an Academy Award-winning and Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated Canadian actress. ... Geraldine Chaplin (born July 31, 1944 in Santa Monica, California) is an Anglo-American actress. ... Ellen Philpotts-Page (born February 21, 1987) is an Academy Award-nominated Canadian actress best known for her role as the title character in the 2007 film Juno. ...

Musical versions

  • A two-act ballet of Jane Eyre was created for the first time by the London Children's Ballet in 1994, with an original score by composer Julia Gomelskaya and choreography by Polyanna Buckingham. The run was a sell-out success.
  • A musical version with a book by John Caird and music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, with Marla Schaffel as Jane and James Stacy Barbour as Rochester, opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on December 10, 2000. It closed on June 10, 2001.
  • An opera version was written in 2000 by English composer Michael Berkeley, with a libretto by David Malouf. It was given its premiere by Music Theater Wales at the Cheltenham Festival.
  • Jane Eyre was played for the first time in Europe in Beveren, Belgium. It was given its premiere at the cultural centre "Ter Vesten".
  • The ballet "Jane," based on the book was created in 2007, a Bullard/Tye production with music by Max Reger. Its world premiere was scheduled at the Civic Auditorium, Kalamazoo, Michigan, June 29 and 30, performed by the Kalamazoo Ballet Company, Therese Bullard, Director.
  • A musical production directed by Debby Race, book by Jana Smith and Wayne R. Scott, with a musical score by Jana Smith and Brad Roseborough, premiered in 2008 at the Lifehouse Theatre in Redlands, California[3]

Jane Eyre: The Musical is a musical drama with music by composer-lyricist Paul Gordon and a book by John Caird, based on the novel by Charlotte Bronte. ... James Stacy Barbour For the Virginian statesman, see James Barbour. ... The Brooks Atkinson Theater is a Broadway theatre. ... is the 344th day of the year (345th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... is the 161st day of the year (162nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the year. ... Michael Berkeley (born 1948) is a British composer. ... David Malouf David Malouf (born March 20, 1934) in Brisbane is an Australian writer whose themes encompass Australian history and the Australian landscape. ... Beveren is a municipality located in the Belgian province of East Flanders. ... Redlands is a city in San Bernardino County, California, United States. ... This article is about the U.S. state. ...

Television versions

For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... Richard Leech as Gatherer Hade in Doctor Who (1977). ... Ann Bell is a Cheshire-born British actress, probably best known for playing prisoner of war Marion Jefferson in the BBC Second World War drama series Tenko during the early 1980s. ... Charlotte Brontës novel Jane Eyre (1847) has been the subject of numerous television and film adaptations. ... For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... Acting daughter of the late Irish actor Cyril Cusack, and sister of Sinéad Cusack, Niamh Cusack, and Catherine Cusack. ... Michael Jayston (born 29th October, 1935 in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire) is a British actor. ... Tina Heath is a British actress and former television presenter. ... Charlotte Brontës novel Jane Eyre (1847) has been the subject of numerous television and film adaptations. ... For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... Timothy Peter Dalton (born March 21, 1946[1]) is an English actor of stage and screen, best known for portraying James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989) and in his roles in Shakespearean related films and plays. ... Biography is one of A&Es longest-running and most popular programs. ... Ciarán Hinds (also credited as Ciaran Hinds, b. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Charlotte Brontës novel Jane Eyre (1847) has been the subject of numerous television and film adaptations. ... For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... Toby Stephens (born April 21, 1969) is an English stage, television and film actor, best known for playing supervillain Gustav Graves in the James Bond film Die Another Day (2002) and Edward Fairfax Rochester in the BBC television adaptation of Jane Eyre (2006). ... Ruth Wilson (born January 13, 1982) is an English actress, perhaps best known for her BAFTA-nominated performance in the title role of Jane Eyre. ... Georgia Helen[1] Georgie Henley (born July 9, 1995) is an English child actress who played Lucy Pevensie in the The Chronicles of Narnia film series, for which she won the 2005 Phoenix Film Critics Award for Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role - Female in...


  • 1938: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier was partially inspired by Jane Eyre.[8][9]
  • 1961: The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart adapts many of the motifs of Jane Eyre to 1950's northern England. The main character, Annabel, falls in love with her older neighbor who is married to a mentally ill woman. Like Jane, Annabel runs away to try to get over her love. The novel begins when she returns from her eight-year exile.
  • 1966: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. The character, Bertha Mason, serves as the main protagonist for this novel which acts as a "prequel" to Jane Eyre. It describes the meeting and marriage of Antoinette (later renamed Bertha by Rochester) and Rochester. In its reshaping of events related to Jane Eyre, the novel suggests that Bertha's madness is the result of Rochester's rejection of her and her Creole heritage. It was also adapted into film twice.
  • 1997: Mrs Rochester: A Sequel to Jane Eyre by Hilary Bailey
  • 2000: Adele: Jane Eyre's Hidden Story by Emma Tennant
  • 2001 novel The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde revolves around the plot of Jane Eyre.
  • 2002: Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn, a science fiction novel based upon Jane Eyre
  • 2000: Jane Rochester by Kimberly A. Bennett, content explores the first years of the Rochester's marriage with gothic and explicit content. A fan favorite.
  • 2006: The French Dancer's Bastard: The Story of Adele From Jane Eyre by Emma Tennant. This is a slightly modified version of Tennant's 2000 novel.
  • 2007: Thornfield Hall: Jane Eyre's Hidden Story by Emma Tennant. This is another version of Jane Eyre.

Rebecca is a novel by British author Daphne du Maurier. ... Daphne, Lady Browning DBE (13 May 1907–19 April 1989), commonly known as Dame Daphne du Maurier (IPA: ), was a famous British novelist, playwright and short story writer. ... For the Canadian freestyle swimmer, see Mary Stewart (swimmer). ... The tone or style of this article or section may not be appropriate for Wikipedia. ... Jean Rhys (August 24, 1890 - May 14, 1979), originally Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams, was a Caribbean novelist who wrote in the mid 20th century. ... The term Creole and its cognates in other languages — such as crioulo, criollo, créole, kriolu, criol, kreyol, kriulo, kriol, krio, etc. ... The tone or style of this article or section may not be appropriate for Wikipedia. ... Hilary Bailey is a British writer and editor, born in 1936. ... Emma Tennant (born 1937) is a British novelist and editor. ... The Eyre Affair, published in 2001, is the first novel published by Jasper Fforde. ... Jasper Fforde (born in London on 11 January 1961) is an English novelist. ... Sharon Shinn (born 1957) is an American Novelist of books that combine the genres of fantasy, science fiction and romance. ...


  1. ^ "Brontë, Charlotte." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1987. p. 546.
  2. ^ a b c Stevie Davies, Introduction and Notes to Jane Eyre. Penguin Classics ed., 2006.
  3. ^ Lifehouse Theatre presents Jane Eyre - accessed May 10th, 2008

Stevie Davies is an award-winning Welsh novelist. ...

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Jane Eyre
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

The Bronte Society website Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. ... TomeRaider is a text database browser and reader for handheld devices and Microsoft Windows made by Yadabyte. ...

The novel online

  Results from FactBites:
Joyce Carol Oates - Jane Eyre: An Introduction (2946 words)
Jane Eyre, who seems to us, in retrospect, the very voice of highly educated but socially and economically disenfranchised gentility, as natural in her place in the literature of nineteenth-century England as Twain's Huckleberry Finn is in our literature, was unique for her time.
Jane Eyre's hunger and that of Bertha Mason are not seen to overlap, for one is always qualified by intellectual scrupulosity and a fierce sense of integrity; the other is, and was, sheerly animal.
Jane's awakening next morning is to a bitter revelation: she begins to experience genuine hunger and to suffer the humiliation, mounting very nearly to physical terror, of near-starvation.
Jane Eyre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2430 words)
Jane is a plain, quiet, and intelligent girl with a passionate soul and an occasional tendency to inappropriate honesty and direct outbursts.
Jane is determined to stay modest, plain, and virtuous, and Rochester is almost equally determined to offer her expensive presents and finery.
1997: Jane Eyre, with Ciaran Hinds as Rochester and Samantha Morton as Jane.
  More results at FactBites »



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