JANE EYRE
Charlotte Bronte


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First Published 1847
Reviewed by Susan Conatser

At age ten, Jane Eyre becomes a ward in the household of her resentful Aunt Reed and her two cruel cousins, after the death of her parents from typhus. Following a confrontation with her abusive cousin John, Jane is sent to live at a charity school, Lowood. The harsh years at Lowood improve with the arrival of schoolmistress Maria Temple, who becomes Jane's friend and mentor. Jane eventually becomes a teacher at Lowood until Miss Temple leaves to marry. Then, a grown up Jane, who has become a woman possessing a sharp intellect and bold spirit, decides to accept a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall.

At Thornfield Hall, Jane meets her pupil, Adele Varens. Adele is the adopted daughter of the master of Thornfield Hall, Edward Fairfax de Rochester. However, Jane doesn't find the freedom and adventure she longed for. Instead she discovers a dark household, haunted by strange goings on. There are eerie cries in the house, and a ghostly woman who roams the halls. When the brooding and mysterious Mr. Rochester arrives three months later, Jane is slowly swept into an emotional whirlwind of feelings for him. Edward grows to confide in her and returns her feelings. But there are many obstacles to their romance, secrets and mysteries that Edward refuses to reveal. Secrets with the power to destroy their love and happiness.

JANE EYRE is a beautiful, romantic classic tale that has endured the test of time. Set in the Victorian age, Jane's coming of age story and the development of her indomitable spirit is captivating. Readers will see Jane as she emerges from a depressing childhood and moves on to face darker hardships and more powerful emotional trials. With grace and a strong will, she overcomes her disappointments and heartbreak and finds happiness.

Miss Bronte, who originally wrote JANE EYRE under the pseudonym Currer Bell, is a masterful storyteller. It is believed Miss Bronte, whose father was a preacher, used Jane to explore some of her own ideas about religious philosophies. In the course of the drama, Jane rejects some of those beliefs during her encounters with different characters; her self-righteous Aunt Reed, the strict legalism of Schoolmaster Brocklehurst, the self sacrifice of schoolmate Helen Burns, and her struggle with forgiveness, as shown by her mentor, Maria Temple.

JANE EYRE is filled with symbolism, like the chestnut tree Jane finds split in two following a romantic moment with Edward, an ominous warning to her that something is wrong. The tone is somber and humorless, and at times, melodramatic, but it is never dull. It is a great masterpiece of literature and an enduring favorite for fans of gothic romance.

March 2004

 

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