Jane Eyre

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A novel by C. Brontë, published 1847.

The heroine, a penniless orphan, has been left to the care of her aunt Mrs Reed. Harsh and unsympathetic treatment rouses her defiant spirit, and Mrs Reed consigns her to Lowood Institution. There, consoled by the kindness of the superintendent Miss Temple, she spends some miserable years, eventually becoming a teacher. She then becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall to Adèle, the illegitimate daughter of Mr Rochester, a Byronic hero of grim aspect and sardonic temper. Rochester, despite Jane's plainness, is fascinated by her sharp wit and independence, and they fall in love. After much resistance she agrees to marry him, but on the eve of their wedding her wedding veil is rent by an intruder who is the next day revealed to be his mad Creole wife Bertha, confined to the upper regions of the Hall for years, whose unseen presence has long disturbed Jane. Despite Rochester's full confession, Jane flees. After nearly perishing on the moors, she is taken in and cared for by the Revd St John Rivers and his sisters Mary and Diana. It emerges that they are her cousins, and that Jane has inherited money from an uncle. Under pressure from the dedicated Rivers, she nearly consents to marry him and share his missionary vocation in India, but is prevented by a telepathic appeal from Rochester. She returns to Thornfield Hall to find the building burned, and Rochester blinded and maimed from his attempt to save his wife from the flames. She marries him, and in the last chapter we learn that his sight is partially restored.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century).

Reference entries

Charlotte Brontë (1816—1855) novelist

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