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Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

By

Title and Publication

Jane Eyre was written in 1847 and is considered one of the first romantic novels, containing both passion and mystery. The novel’s tone of philosophical introspection set it apart from other contemporary works. It has been through many printings as it has remained a popular classic. The novel is currently published by Signet Classic of New York.

Author

Charlotte Bronte

Setting

The story of Jane Eyre takes place in 19th century England. The novel develops through scenes taking place in four distinct settings: The Reed Manor during Jane’s childhood; The Lowood School in which Jane receives her education; Thornfield Manor, the home in which her first love grows; and Moor House in the town of Morton where she finds her paternal relatives.

Characters

Jane Eyre, the heroine of the story.

Edward Rocheste, Jane’s employer and true love.

St. John Rivers, Jane’s cousin who offers her employment and seeks to make her his missionary wife.

Mrs. Reed, the wife of Jane’s deceased uncle and her reluctant guardian.

Plot

Jane Eyre begins life as a destitute and dependent waif in the care of relatives who neither want nor love her. The story traces Jane’s life as she grows from early childhood to young adulthood tasting for the first time independence, a sense of belonging and love. As the events of the novel unfold and she learns the true nature of her circumstances she also learns the true make up of her character. Jane is beset time and again with difficult decisions in which she must choose between the easy road and her own integrity.

Questions to Ponder?

The questions to follow will help you detect important themes and ideas in the novel.

  • Conflict between the individual and society.
  • How does the caste system of 19th century England affect Jane’s life?
  • How are Jane’s decisions influenced by the society in which she lives?
  • What does this novel suggest about the ideals of Christianity and Christian behavior?
  • Conflict between the individual and herself.
  • What significance is there in the many references to hunger and cold throughout the novel?
  • What inner turmoil rises in Jane as she is faced with choosing between what is right (or expected of her) and what she really wants?
  • Is Jane a character to be admired or scorned?

Possible First Sentences

  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, is a study in character development.
  • Independence is often hard fought and won at great cost.
  • Jane Eyre, as a character, is a model of self respect and integrity.
  • Can a person be saved by love?
  • The class system of England presents many obstacles to happiness.
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