literature meme — ten prose [10/10]
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
Primarily of the bildungsroman genre, Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its title character, including her growth to adulthood, and her love for Mr. Rochester, the byronic master of fictitious Thornfield Hall. In its internalisation of the action — the focus is on the gradual unfolding of Jane’s moral and spiritual sensibility and all the events are coloured by a heightened intensity that was previously the domain of poetry — the novel revolutionised the art of fiction. Charlotte Brontë has been called the ‘first historian of the private consciousness’ and the literary ancestor of writers like Joyce and Proust. The novel contains elements of social criticism, with a strong sense of morality at its core, but is nonetheless a novel many consider ahead of its time given the individualistic character of Jane and the novel’s exploration of classism, sexuality, religion, and proto-feminism. [x]
Jane Eyre is proud, and therefore she is ungrateful too. It pleased God to make her an orphan, friendless, and penniless—yet she thanks nobody, and least of all Him, for the food and raiment, the friends, companions, and instructors of her helpless youth… On the contrary, she looks upon all that has been done for her not only as her undoubted right, but as falling far short of it.
- Quarterly Review (December 1848)
ladies from books » jane eyre by charlotte brontë
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
165 years ago, on October 16, 1847, Jane Eyre was first published by Smith, Elder & Co. of London, England, under the pen name “Currer Bell.
His face was very much agitated and very much flushed, and there were strong workings in the features, and strange gleams in the eyes.
“Oh, Jane, you torture me!” he exclaimed. “With that searching and yet faithful and generous look, you torture me!”
“How can I do that? If you are true, and your offer real, my only feelings to you must be gratitude and devotion—they cannot torture.”
“Gratitude!” he ejaculated; and added wildly—“Jane accept me quickly. Say, Edward—give me my name—Edward—I will marry you.”
“Are you in earnest? Do you truly love me? Do you sincerely wish me to be your wife?”
“I do; and if an oath is necessary to satisfy you, I swear it.”
“Then, sir, I will marry you.”
“Edward—my little wife!”
“Come to me—come to me entirely now,” said he; and added, in his deepest tone, speaking in my ear as his cheek was laid on mine, “Make my happiness—I will make yours.”
“God pardon me!” he subjoined ere long; “and man meddle not with me: I have her, and will hold her.”
“There is no one to meddle, sir. I have no kindred to interfere.”
“No—that is the best of it,” he said. And if I had loved him less
Charlotte Brontë’s fair copy of Jane Eyre, written out by hand between 16-19 March 1847 to be sent for publication.