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Home Middelbare School EN Uittreksels Uittreksel Charlotte Brontë - Jane Eyre

Uittreksel Charlotte Brontë - Jane Eyre

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Extracts English Literature
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Charlotte Brontë - Jane Eyre

Smith, Elder & Co, (1847) under the pseudonym Currer Bell.


Jane Eyre was first published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell, and tells the story of the main character after whom the books has been titled.


Charlotte Brontë was born in 1816 at Thornton, Yorkshire, and died in 1855 at Haworth. She had two sisters (Emily and Anne) and one brother (Branwell). They were very close and at an early age began to create imaginary worlds. Both her sisters wrote poems which they all published in 1846 as Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Emily wrote one novel Wuthering Heights which has come to be seen as one of the greatest English novels. Anne wrote two novels, Agnes Grey and The tenant of Wildfell Hall. Born of an Irish clergyman and a Cornish mother, the Celtic blood of the Brontë children asserted itself in haunting stories of enormous dramatic power. Jane Eyre is Charlotte's most famous book and it was followed by Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853), also published pseudonymously. Emma is published posthumously in 1860, five years after her death.


Jane Eyre can be placed in the Victorian Age. It is the great age of the English novel. While social and political elements become more and more important, close personal contact is destroyed by profit seeking, materialism and cultural uprooting. The authors want to go back to the Romantic movement, they want to run away from reality.


It is a dramatic novel in which character and action are of equal importance. It also has few characteristics of the Gothic novel which was very popular at that time.

contains a number of autobiographical elements and Jane can be seen as a projection of Charlotte Brontë herself, into which she poured her own ideals, passions, dreams and disillusions. In Lowood Institute the author depicts the school at Cowar Bridge where she spent some unhappy years.


Jane Eyre

The novel is also influenced by the Gothic novel which was at that time very popular. The Gothic novel depicts the revival of interest in the supernatural, the abnormal and the horrible. A Gothic novel contains haunted castles, dark crimes, terrible apparitions and weird noises. In Jane Eyre the weird old house, with its evil atmosphere, the raving lunatic, and Rochester's telepathic message to Jane, are all derived from the Gothic novel.


Jane's parents die when she is only a little child. She is left to the care of her aunt, Mrs. Reed. Jane is treated with contempt by her cousins, but she does not give way to harsh and cruel treatment. After a fight with her cousin John she is locked in the room where her uncle died and she faints. Bessie, the nurse, calls an apothecary to whom Jane tells that she wishes to go to school. A few weeks later a Mr Brocklehurst comes to take Jane away to the Lowood Institute.

Here she meets Helen Burns, a very intelligent child, and they become close friends. Helen dies of tuberculosis when there is a typhus epidemic because of the bad food, and many other children die as well. After a few unhappy years Jane becomes a teacher at Lowood, but when the kind Miss Temple leaves Lowood to get married, Jane decides to leave as well to become governess to a little girl named Adele Varens, the natural daughter of Mr Edward Rochester of Thornfield Hall.

Jane is soon on good terms with both Adele and Mrs Fairfax, the housekeeper, but she is sometimes disturbed by a demonic laughter which can be heard all through Thornfield Hall. Mrs Fairfax attributes it to one of the servants, Grace Poole, a sewing woman. One wintry afternoon Jane takes a walk and meets a man on a horse with a dog. The horse slips and the man is thrown from his horse. He has injured his ankle and Jane helps him up. He is a man of grim aspect and cynical temper with dark features and a brooding look. When Jane returns to Thornfield Hall she learns that the master is home and she recognizes the dog as belonging to the man who fell from his horse, thus knowing it to be Mr Rochester. He tells Jane that Adele is the child of a French dancer who claimed that he was the father of the child. That same night Jane hears a strange laugh in the corridor and on investigation finds Mr. Rochester's room is on fire. She saves his life and again the name Grace Poole is mentioned.

Mr Rochester leaves the next day and returns with a party including the beautiful Blanche Ingram who makes Jane very jealous, who realizes that she is allowing her imagination to run away with her with regard to Mr Rochester. One night a Mr Mason arrives from the West Indies. That same night the house reverberates with a blood-curdling scream. All the guests are reassured by Mr Rochester and Jane is asked to come upstairs. There she nurses Mr Mason who has been attacked with a knife. Jane hears snarls and the horrible laughter from the adjoining room.

When Jane returns from a visit to her aunt on her deathbed, Mr. Rochester confesses that she is the one he loves and that he wants her to marry him. Two nights before her wedding she wakes and sees a strange woman in her room who is wearing her bridal veilwhich she then rips apart. Rochester suggests that it was Grace Pool. As they stood in front of the altar about to be joined as man and wife, Mr Mason enters and revealesthat Mr Rochester is still married to Mr Mason's mad sister who is kept in isolation at Thornfield Hall. Mr Rochester takes the company to see the mad woman and tells them that he was trapped into this marriage in Jamaica 15 years ago. Jane feels no resentment and loves him as dearly as before, but her moral principles forbid her to stay with him as his mistress.

She flees from Thornfield Hall and wanders over the moors till, worn out and near starvation, she is taken in and cared for by reverend St John Rivers and his two sisters Diana and Mary. She is happy here and becomes the village school teacher. The financial position of the family is far from good and when Jane discovers they are in fact her cousins and that she has inherited 20,000 pounds from an uncle, she shares this with the family. St John, is a cold man who wants to marry Jane, although he does not love her but thinks she will be a good missionary's wife. Jane still loves Mr Rochester, but as she is about to consent to St John, she hears the phantom voice of Rochester calling her name. This telepathic appeal sends her hurrying to Thornfield Hall, which she finds a blackened ruin of crumbling stone.

She is told that Mr Rochester attempted to rescue his mad wife when she set the house on fire, only to lose both his eyesight and his right hand. His wife had leapt to her death from the burning roof. He now lives at his country house Ferndean, and Jane goes there. She finds him a lonely, dejected man and her heart goes out to him. They marry and after two years Mr Rochester regains the sight in his right eye, which enables him to see his beloved wife and first-born son.


The story is set in the first half of the nineteenth century in England, the same time it was written. This is very important because traditions were very strong and convention plays a crucial role.


Much of the action is centered around country houses. First there is Gateshead Hall, the estate of the Reeds. Then Lowood Institute, where Jane grows up as a teenager and where she is educated. Thornfield Hall, where the larger part of the story takes place, Moore House, the humbler household of St. John Rivers and finally Ferndean, Mr. Rochester's country house to which he retires when Thornfield Hall burns down.

Characters and relationships:

Jane Eyre:

An orphan whose intelligence and strong-mindedness helps her find love. She is the main

character and she tells the story of her life. She forms the suitable counterpart of Mr. Rochester

as she is able to retain a firm belief in her own superiority.

Mr Rochester:

A typical romantic hero, he is a proud, strong, solitary man who ignores the conventional

standards of the world even where the sacred institution of marriage is concerned. He is an

uncompromising individualist who pursues his solitary path with a contemptuous shrug at the opinions of

other people. Set besides these two characters the other characters are colourless, shadowy.


The nurse at Gateshead Hall, a nice person but sometimes moody.

Miss Temple:

The superintendent at Lowood Hall, a warm and caring person.

Mrs Fairfax:

The housekeeper at Thornfield Hall, a friendly old woman who never complains.


Mr. Rochesters natural daughter and Jane's pupil.

St John Rivers:

The minister with whom Jane lives after leaving Mr Rochester. He asks Jane to marry him.

Diana and Mary:

St John Rivers' sisters.




The theme of this highly romantic book is passionate love. Charlotte Brontë presents love in terms of the battle of the sexes with the heroine ultimately triumphant and looking down on helpless lover, who has tumbled down from his immense superiority. It reflects the social struggle for recognition of the rights of women which took place in that era and of which Charlotte Brontë was a pioneer. She pictured love as the woman meeting her lover on a basis of equality, which was a very modern thought in an era where women were totally dependent on men. So it can be said that another theme is that the position of women should be improved



Linguistic usage:

The elaborate English is used which was spoken in the nineteenth century. Sometimes metaphors are used. Both make the understanding of the novel a little bit more difficult, but the general story line can be easily followed.


To W.M. Thackeray, Esq.


The story is told by the main character, Jane Eyre herself, in the first-person. She tells the story of her life years after her marriage to Mr. Rochester. This technique makes the novel very direct and subjective which forces the reader to accept the incredible events that form the plot.


The novel has thirty-eight chapters, of which the last one is a conclusion in which the reader is told what happened after Jane and Mr Rochester got married.

Own opinion on the book:

Your opinion!

The genre:

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When you think you can't... revisit a previous triumph.

Wanneer je denkt dat je het niet kunt... denk dan terug aan een vorige overwinning.

Jack Canfield