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Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

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Sophie Helena Bannister

on 20 October 2014

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Transcript of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

- Jane Eyre was published in 1847 (during the Victorian Period)

- The book was published under the pen name of Currer Bell. It´s original name was 'Jane Eyre: An Autobiography' ‘edited by Currer Bell’

- It was an instant success, receiving good reviews. Speculation about the identity of the author grew and criticisms started to appear
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë´s main works
Book´s extracts
Brief Biography
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

- Charlotte was born in Yorkshire, England, on April 21, 1816.

- She was the third of the six children of Maria and Patrick Brontë . She suffered the early death of her mother in 1821 and the deaths of her sisters Maria and Elizabeth in 1825 due to the rigid conditions of the school they went to.

- The four siblings ( Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell) created their own literary community in Reverend Brontë´s parsonage.

- In 1831, Charlotte went as a pupil to Miss Wooler´s Roe Head school and returned as a teacher in 1835
- In 1842, she travelled with Emily to Brussels, where they went to a boarding school run by Constantin Heger (1809-96) and his wife, in order to study languages. In her second trip there, she became a teacher and fell in love with Constantin

- In 1846, 'Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell' (the pseudonyms of the sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne) was published (only two copies of the book were sold).The pseudonyms concealed the sisters´s gender and preserved their inicials.

- In October 1947, Jane Eyre: An Autobiography ‘edited by Currer Bell’ was published by Smith, Elder & Co.
- The book, as said before,was an instant success, receiving good reviews. Speculation grew about the author´s real identity and there was a change in the critical reaction to Charlotte´s novel, as accusations now referred to it as ‘coarse’ and 'unchristian', for many conservatives said the book fostered Chartism.

- 'Shirley', Charlotte´s second novel, was published in October 1849 after the deaths of her brother and her two sisters, and her third novel 'Villette' came out in January 1853, both under the pen name of Currer Bell.

- Charlotte got married to Arthur Bell Nichols in 1855 and died the following year at the age of 39.

Contextual Information - Historical and Literary Background
1.The Historical Background - The Victorian Period (1837-1901)

In 1837, there were many social problems:
-members of the working class were badly punished if they wished to join together in trade unions,
- the the price of bread was kept very high,
- the Chartist movement wanted votes for all and social reforms. In other words,
Jane Eyre
was published during a period of political and social turbulance.

Other events:
- Britain´s significant progress in the manufacture,trade and financial sectors;
- the construction of a large rail network between the 1830s and 1870s;
- the expansion of Britain´s power and influence overseas (characters Uncle John and St John);
- growth and shift of population from the countryside to the towns;
- better political stability than in the rest of Europe; - the spreading of the ‘civilising influence’ of Christianity throughout the world ( St John, the catholic missionary in Jane Eyre, goes to India)
- women´s place in society: at home
Literary Background
1.2 The politics of Jane Eyre
- As mentioned above, in Britain during the 1840s the Chartist movement, which consisted of mass demonstrations, riots, strikes and petitions, expressed the rage of the working man under the economic misery caused by industrialization and capitalism.

- The masses, who were made poor by mechanized production, united to denounce inequality, demand universal male suffrage (there were also petitions circulating for the advocation of women´s suffrage) and equal rights.

- These were the reasons why the conservative press of the time was anxious about the novel Jane Eyre (published in 1847), for it contained demands for personal freedom, statements of famished hunger both physical and intellectual and defience of authority by the main character.

- Even though it was written during the Victorian Age,
Jane Eyre
has many of the qualities of Romantic literature. Before the Victorian period, the literary seriousness of the novel and the social status of the novelist were not fully accepted. Poetry was seen as being on the top of the hierarchy of literary genres.

- However, during the early decades of the nineteenth century, the novel began to rise in status due mainly to Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). He gave a new seriousness of purpose to historical fiction, and as expected, the status of the novelist also began to rise.
Some of Charlotte´s works written during her juvenilia period:
-The Young Men's Magazine, Number 1-3 (published in 1830);
-The Spell, An Extravaganza (1834);
-The Secret and Lily Hart: Two Tales (1833);
-The Foundling: A Tale of our own Times (1833);
-The Green Dwarf :A Tale of the Perfect Tense (1833);
-My Angria and the Angrians (1834);
-Albion and Marina: A Tale (1830);
-Tales of the Islanders (1829-1830);
-Tales of Angria (1839);
-Mina Laury (1838);
-Stancliffe´s Hotel (1838);
-The Duke of Zamorna ;
-Henry Hastings (1839);
-Caroline Vermon (1839);
-The Roe Head Journal (Fragments) (1836-1837), etc.
Juvenilia Period
-‘Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell’ (1846)

- Posthumous book called ‘Selected Poems of the Brontës, Everyman Poetry’ (1997).
- ‘Jane Eyre’ (published in 1847),

- ‘Shirley’, (published in 1849),

- ‘Villette’ (published in 1853)

- ‘The Professor’ (published posthumously in 1857).

- Charlotte also wrote 20 pages of a book called ‘Emma’, which was published posthumously in 1860; in recent decades at least two continuations have been published.
- Charlotte is a gifted storyteller who masters the art of suspense.

-She created strong-minded heroines with genuine ideas and erudite views who respected themselves and weren´t afraid of expressing their ideas.

- These heroines were simple women who felt fulfillment in their lives due to their own independence and self respect, rather than that of society.

- Bronte wrote quite personal novels with a relatively small number of characters. She addressed a few social concerns in terms of their impact on the personal lives of individuals.
- The book is challenging concerning its vocabulary, but contains simple grammar as its stylistic basis

- The simple style of the book sometimes becomes more complex with syntatic inversions in order to make some dramatic effect in the book

Jane Eyre
stimulates wonder, for it contains a succession of pauses, digressions, riddles, incomplete sentences and false clues (suspense)

- presence of supernatural elements, emotional connections, individual journeys, idealistic attitudes, love of nature, death´s presence, etc. (Qualities of Romantic Literature )
Jane Eyre´s style and narrative
Plot summary of 'Jane Eyre'
Five-part adventure:

- At Gateshead, a nine-year old orphan is curled up with a book, is discovered (...)

-At Lowood...

- At Thornfield...

-At Moor House...

-At Ferndean...
1.“The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mama in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by the fireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group; saying, ‘She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation, that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner— something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were—she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy, little children.’” (Page 9)
2.“All John Reed’s violent tyrannies, all his sisters’ proud indifference, all his mother’s aversion, all the servants’ partiality, turned up in my disturbed mind like a dark deposit in a turbid well. Why was I always suffering, always browbeaten, always accused, for ever condemned? Why could I never please? Why was it useless to try to win any one’s favour? Eliza, who was headstrong and selfish, was respected. Georgiana, who had a spoiled temper, a very acrid spite, a captious and insolent carriage, was universally indulged. Her beauty, her pink cheeks and golden curls, seemed to give delight to all who looked at her, and to purchase indemnity for every fault. John no one thwarted, much less punished; though he twisted the necks of the pigeons, killed the little pea-chicks, set the dogs at the sheep (...) I dared commit no fault: I strove to fulfil every duty; and I was termed naughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaking, from morning to noon, and from noon to night.” (Page 18)
3.‘Our clothing was insufficient to protect us from the severe cold: we had no boots, the snow got into our shoes and melted there: our ungloved hands became numbed and covered with chilblains, as were our feet: I remember well the distracting irritation I endured from this cause every evening, when my feet inflamed; and the torture of thrusting the swelled, raw, and stiff toes into my shoes in the morning. Then the scanty supply of food was distressing: with the keen appetites of growing children, we had scarcely sufficient to keep alive a delicate invalid.’(Page 71)
4.‘Semi-starvation and neglected colds had predisposed most of the pupils to receive infection: forty-five out of the eighty girls lay ill at one time. Classes were broken up, rules relaxed. The few who continued well were allowed almost unlimited license; because the medical attendant insisted on the necessity of frequent exercise to keep them in health: and had it been otherwise, no one had leisure to watch or restrain them.’ (Page 91)
5.‘I was not reprimanded for leaving my bed; people had something else to think about; noexplanation was afforded then to my many questions; but a day or two afterwards I learned that Miss Temple, on returning to her own room at dawn, had found me laid in the little crib; my face against Helen Burns’s shoulder, my arms round her neck. I was asleep, and Helen was—dead.’(Page 98)
6. ‘When the typhus fever had fulfilled its mission of devastation at Lowood, it gradually disappeared from thence; but not till its virulence and the number of its victims had drawn public attention on the school. Inquiry was made into the origin of the scourge, and by degrees various facts came out which excited public indignation in a high degree. The unhealthy nature of the site; the quantity and quality of the children’s food; the brackish, fetid water used in its preparation; the pupils’ wretched clothing and accommodations—all these things were discovered, and the discovery produced a result mortifying to Mr. Brocklehurst, but beneficial to the institution.
Several wealthy and benevolent individuals in the county subscribed largely for the erection of a more convenient building in a better situation; new regulations were made; improvements in diet and clothing introduced; the funds of the school were intrusted to themanagement of a committee. (...) The school, thus improved, became in time a truly useful and noble institution. I remained an inmate of its walls, after its regeneration, for eight years: six as pupil, and two as teacher (...)’ (Pages 99 and 100)

7.‘We parted finally at the door of the Brocklehurst Arms there: each went her separate way; she [ Bessie] set off for the brow of Lowood Fell to meet the conveyance which was to take her back to Gateshead, I mounted the vehicle which was to bear me to new duties and a new life in the unknown environs of Millcote.’ (Page 110)
8. ‘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. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. 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.’ (Pages 129 and 130)
9. ‘My help had been needed and claimed; I had given it: I was pleased to have done something; trivial, transitory though the deed was, it was yet an active thing, and I was weary of an existence all passive.’ (Page 136)
10. ‘I don’t think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.’ (Page 157)
11.“‘YOU,’ I said, ‘a favourite with Mr. Rochester? YOU gifted with the power of pleasing him? YOU of importance to him in any way? Go! your folly sickens me. And you have derived pleasure from occasional tokens of preference—equivocal tokens shown by a gentleman of family and a man of the world to a dependent and a novice. How dared you? Poor stupid dupe! (...) 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, ignisfatus- like, into miry wilds whence there is no extrication.” (Page 186)
12."My dearest, don’t mention governesses; the word makes me nervous. I have suffered a martyrdom from their incompetency and caprice. I thank Heaven I have now done with them!’(...)
'I have just one word to say of the whole tribe; they are a nuisance (...) Not that I ever suffered much from them; I took care to turn the tables. What tricks Theodore and I used to play on our Miss Wilsons, and Mrs. Greys, and Madame Jouberts! Mary was always too sleepy to join in a plot with spirit (...)'" (Pages 205 and 206)

14.“‘Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of Bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you,—and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty andmuch wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh;—it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal,—as we are!’” (Page 292)
15.“‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.’” (Page 293)

16.“‘My bride is here,’ he said, again drawing me to him, ‘because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?’” (Page 294)

17.“‘Oh, Jane, this is bitter! This—this is wicked. It would not be wicked to love me.’
‘It would to obey you’” (Page 364)

18.‘I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained Iam, 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 suchmoments 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?’ (Page 365)
19.“My eye still roved over the sullen swell and along the moor-edge, vanishing amidst the wildest scenery, when at one dim point, far in among the marshes and the ridges, alight sprang up. (...) The light was yet there, shining dim but Constant through the rain. I tried to walk again: I dragged my exhausted limbs slowly towards it (...)This light was my forlorn hope: I must gain it.” (Page 380)
20.“‘Formerly,’ I answered, ‘because you did not love me; now, I reply, because you almost hate me. If I were to marry you, you would kill me. You are killing me now.’
His lips and cheeks turned white—quite white.
‘I SHOULD KILL YOU—I AM KILLING YOU? Your words are such as ought not to be used: violent,unfeminine, and untrue. They betray an unfortunate state of mind: they merit severe reproof: they would seem inexcusable, but that it is the duty of man to forgive his fellow even until seventy-and-seven times.’” (Page 475)

21.“‘Jane! Jane! Jane!’—nothing more.
‘O God! what is it?’ I gasped.
I might have said, ‘Where is it?’ for it did not seem in the room— nor in the house—nor in the garden; it did not come out of the airnor from under the earth—normfrom overhead. I had heard it— where, or whence, for ever impossible to know! And it was the voice of a human being—a known, loved, well-remembered voice—that of Edward Fairfax Rochester; and it spoke in pain and woe, wildly, eerily, urgently.
‘I am coming!’ I cried. ‘Wait for me! Oh, I will come!’ I flew to the door and looked into the passage: it was dark. I ran out into the garden: it was void.”(Page 483)

22.‘Mr. Rochester, if ever I did a good deed in my life—if ever I thought a good thought—if ever I prayed a sincere and blameless prayer—if ever I wished a righteous wish,— I am rewarded now. To be your wife is, for me, to be as happy as I can be on earth.’
‘Because you delight in sacrifice.’
‘Sacrifice! What do I sacrifice? Famine for food, expectation for content. To be privileged to put my arms round what I value—to press my lips to what I love—to repose on what I trust: is that to make a sacrifice? If so, then certainly I delight in sacrifice.’(Page 513)

Personal opinion about the book
My personal opinion is that
Jane Eyre
is not considered a classic of all times for nothing.

I strongly recommend the reading of this wonderful book, but would advise my colleagues to do so with the help of a good English dictionary, for this work of art gave me the opportunity to learn many new words, such as “countenance”,“forsake”, “thither”, “snivel” and numerous others.

Besides, because it depicts such important values and social issues, the reading of Jane Eyre becomes even more essential

BRONTË, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. London: Penguin Group, 2006. (First published in 1847)





General Characteristics of Charlotte Brontë´s style and themes
13.‘I have not yet said anything condemnatory of Mr. Rochester’s project of marrying for interest and connections. It surprised me when I first discovered that such was his intention: I had thought him a man unlikely to be influenced by motives so commonplace in his choice of a wife; but the longer I considered the position, education, etc., of the parties, the less I felt justified in judging and blaming either him or Miss Ingram for acting in conformity to ideas and principles instilled into them, doubtless, from their childhood. ‘(Page 217)
Sophie Bannister
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