Jane Eyre /ˈɛər/ (originally published as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography) is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was published on 16 October 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co. of London, England, under the pen name "Currer Bell." The first American edition was released the following year by Harper & Brothers of New York. Writing for the Penguin edition, Stevie Davies describes it as an "influential feminist text" because of its in-depth exploration of a strong female character's feelings. Primarily of the bildungsroman genre, Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its eponymous character, including her growth to adulthood, and her love for Mr. Rochester, the byronic master of fictitious Thornfield Hall. 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. Plot introduction
Jane Eyre is a first-person narrative of the title character. The novel goes through five distinct stages: Jane's childhood at Gateshead, where she is emotionally and physically abused by her aunt and cousins; her education at Lowood School, where she acquires friends and role models but also suffers privations and oppression; her time as the governess of Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with her Byronic employer, Edward Rochester; her time with the Rivers family, during which her earnest but cold clergyman cousin, St John Rivers, proposes to her; and the finale with her reunion with, and marriage to, her beloved Rochester. Plot summary
Young Jane argues with her guardian Mrs. Reed of Gateshead. Illustration by F. H. Townsend. The novel begins with a ten-year-old orphan named Jane Eyre, who is living with her maternal uncle's family, the Reeds, as her uncle's dying wish. Jane's parents died of typhus. Jane’s aunt Sarah Reed does not like her and treats her worse than a servant and discourages and at times forbids her children from associating with her. She claims that Jane is not worthy of notice. She and her three children are abusive to Jane, physically and emotionally. She is unacceptably excluded from the family celebrations and had a doll to find solace in. One day Jane is locked in the red room, where her uncle died, and panics after seeing visions of him. She is finally rescued when she is allowed to attend Lowood School for Girls. Before she leaves, she stands up to Mrs. Reed and declares that she'll never call her "aunt" again, that she'd tell everyone at Lowood how cruel Mrs. Reed was to her, and says that Mrs. Reed and her daughter, Georgiana, are deceitful. John Reed, her son, is very rude and disrespectful, even to his own mother, who he sometimes had called "old girl", and his sisters. He treats Jane worse than the others do, and she hates him above all the others. Mr. Reed had been the only one in the Reed family to be kind to Jane. The servant Abbot is also always rude to Jane. The servant Bessie is sometimes scolding and sometimes nice. Jane likes Bessie the best. Jane arrives at Lowood Institution, a charity school, the head of which (Brocklehurst) has been told that she is deceitful. During an inspection, Jane accidentally breaks her slate, and Mr. Brocklehurst, the self-righteous clergyman who runs the school, brands her a liar and shames her before the entire assembly. Jane is comforted by her friend, Helen Burns. Miss Temple, a caring teacher, facilitates Jane's self-defense and writes to Mr. Lloyd,[clarification needed] whose reply agrees with Jane's. Ultimately, Jane is publicly cleared of Mr. Brocklehurst's accusations. The eighty pupils at Lowood are subjected to cold rooms, poor meals, and thin clothing. Many students fall ill when a typhus epidemic strikes. Jane's friend Helen dies of consumption in her arms. When Mr. Brocklehurst's neglect and dishonesty are...
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