Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

4.3 729
by Charlotte Bronte
     
 

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Orphaned into cold charity at the hands of her rich cousins and, later, at Lowood Asylum, Jane escapes to take up a position as governess to the young ward of Mr. Rochester. Their love affair, Jane's discovery of Rochester's secret-hideously concealed in the attic of Thornfield Hall-and her desperate flight, are told in a drama of passionate intensity whose pace never

Overview

Orphaned into cold charity at the hands of her rich cousins and, later, at Lowood Asylum, Jane escapes to take up a position as governess to the young ward of Mr. Rochester. Their love affair, Jane's discovery of Rochester's secret-hideously concealed in the attic of Thornfield Hall-and her desperate flight, are told in a drama of passionate intensity whose pace never slackens. Jane Eyre is a love story with a happy ending, rare in its time for its sympathetic portrayal of the love of a married man for another woman. It is, as Thackeray said, 'The masterwork of a great genius'.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Written in 1847, this novel remains a favorite, especially among younger readers and listeners who continue to be entranced by the young Jane and her mysterious Mr. Rochester. The story of an unhappy orphan and her life as a governess at Thornfield is filled with difficulty, including a shocking revelation on her wedding day. The happy ending finally arrives, though, and Jane and Rochester are united forever. Long criticized as being melodramatic and contrived, Jane Eyre has nonetheless become a romantic classic and is often the book that introduces students to serious literature. Bronte's suspense-filled plot adapts well to the audio format. This version, although abridged, omits nothing of importance. Juliet Stevenson, a Royal Shakespeare Company associate, reads with the drama the story demands and makes each character emerge with life and energy. Recommended for general audiences.
— Michael Neubert, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
— Michael Neubert, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
EBOOK COMMENTARY
"A masterwork. This reverse Cinderella story becomes a vital and energetic tale through McCaddon's lovely rendition." —-Library Journal Audio Review
From the Publisher

“Joining fiction to history, this edition of Jane Eyre illustrates the way literature addresses important moral and political issues. The original nineteenth-century documents in the appendices provide an invaluable opportunity for readers to view the novel in both its biographical and its historical contexts; it illustrates, in a broader sense, how literature is a vital element in the discourse of an age, and thus helps shape history.” — Micael M. Clarke, Loyola University Chicago

“While the student who approaches Jane Eyre for the first time or the reader unfamiliar with Victorian culture will find Richard Nemesvari’s introduction and annotations very useful, most helpful of all are the appendices, which place the novel in the context of Victorian writing on governesses, gender roles, empire and race. The Broadview edition of Jane Eyre makes it possible for readers to approach Brontë’s novel with a fuller sense of the way it engages important Victorian social issues. An excellent introduction to Jane Eyre in its time.” — Mary Ellis Gibson, University of North Carolina - Greensboro

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679641186
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/31/2000
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
704
Sales rank:
574,208
File size:
844 KB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question.

I was glad of it; I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.

The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mamma 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."

"What does Bessie say I have done?" I asked.

"Jane, I don't like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent."

A small breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room, I slipped in there. It contained a bookcase; I soon possessed myself of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat crosslegged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.

Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves in my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.

I returned to my book—Bewick's History of British Birds: the letterpress thereof I cared little for, generally speaking; and yet there were certain introductory pages that, child as I was, I could not pass quite as a blank. They were those which treat of the haunts of sea-fowl; of "the solitary rocks and promontories" by them only inhabited; of the coast of Norway, studded with isles from its southern extremity, the Lindeness, or Naze, to the North Cape—

Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls,

Boils round the naked, melancholy isles

Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge

Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.

Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of Lapland, Siberia, Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, Iceland, Greenland, with "the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn regions of dreary space—that reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields of ice, the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine heights above heights, surround the pole, and concentre the multiplied rigours of extreme cold." Of these death-white realms I formed an idea of my own: shadowy, like all the half-comprehended notions that float dim through children's brains, but strangely impressive. The words in these introductory pages connected themselves with the succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.

I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary churchyard, with its inscribed headstone; its gate, its two trees, its low horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly risen crescent, attesting the hour of eventide.

The two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I believed to be marine phantoms.

The fiend pinning down the thief's pack behind him, I passed over quickly: it was an object of terror.

So was the black, horned thing seated aloof on a rock, surveying a distant crowd surrounding a gallows.

Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced to be in good humour; and when, having brought her ironing-table to the nursery-hearth, she allowed us to sit about it, and while she got up Mrs. Reed's lace frills, and crimped her nightcap borders, fed our eager attention with passages of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and older ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages of Pamela, and Henry, Earl of Moreland.

With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way. I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon. The breakfast-room door was opened.

"Boh! Madam Mope!" cried the voice of John Reed; then he paused: he found the room apparently empty.

"Where the dickens is she?" he continued. "Lizzy! Georgy! (calling to his sisters) Jane is not here: tell mamma she is run out into the rain—bad animal!"

"It is well I drew the curtain," thought I, and I wished fervently he might not discover my hiding-place: nor would John Reed have found it out himself; he was not quick either of vision or conception; but Eliza just put her head in at the door, and said at once: "She is in the window-seat, to be sure, Jack."

And I came out immediately, for I trembled at the idea of being dragged forth by the said Jack.

"What do you want?" I asked with awkward diffidence.

"Say, 'what do you want, Master Reed,' " was the answer. "I want you to come here"; and seating himself in an arm-chair, he intimated by a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.

John Reed was a schoolboy of fourteen years old; four years older than I, for I was but ten; large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities. He gorged himself habitually at table, which made him bilious, and gave him a dim and bleared eye with flabby cheeks. He ought now to have been at school; but his mamma had taken him home for a month or two, "on account of his delicate health." Mr. Miles, the master, affirmed that he would do very well if he had fewer cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home; but the mother's heart turned from an opinion so harsh, and inclined rather to the more refined idea that John's sallowness was owing to over-application, and, perhaps, to pining after home.

John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in a day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh on my bones shrank when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed was blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he did both now and then in her very presence; more frequently, however, behind her back.

Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair: he spent some three minutes in thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he could without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strike, and while dreading the blow, I mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance of him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in my face; for, all at once, without speaking, he struck suddenly and strongly. I tottered, and on regaining my equilibrium retired back a step or two from his chair.

"That is for your impudence in answering mamma a while since," said he, "and for your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat!"

Accustomed to John Reed's abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it: my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult.

"What were you doing behind the curtain?" he asked.

"I was reading."

"Show the book."

I returned to the window and fetched it thence.

"You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mamma's expense. Now, I'll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows."

I did so, not at first aware what was his intention; but when I saw him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it, I instinctively started aside with a cry of alarm: not soon enough, however; the volume was flung, it hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the pain was sharp: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded.

"Wicked and cruel boy!" I said. "You are like a murderer—you are like a slave-driver—you are like the Roman emperors!"

I had read Goldsmith's History of Rome, and had formed my opinion of Nero, Caligula, &c. Also I had drawn parallels in silence, which I never thought thus to have declared aloud.

"What! what!" he cried. "Did she say that to me? Did you hear her, Eliza and Georgiana? Won't I tell mamma? but first—"

He ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder: he had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant: a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head trickle down my neck, and was sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations for the time predominated over fear, and I received him in frantic sort. I don't very well know what I did with my hands, but he called me "Rat! rat!" and bellowed out aloud. Aid was near him: Eliza and Georgiana had run for Mrs. Reed, who was gone upstairs; she now came upon the scene, followed by Bessie and her maid Abbot. We were parted: I heard the words—

"Dear! dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!"

"Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!"

Then Mrs. Reed subjoined: "Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in there." Four hands were immediately laid upon me, and I was borne upstairs.

Chapter Two

I resisted all the way: a new thing for me, and a circumstance which greatly strengthened the bad opinion Bessie and Miss Abbot were disposed to entertain of me. The fact is, I was a trifle beside myself; or rather out of myself, as the French would say. I was conscious that a moment's mutiny had already rendered me liable to strange penalties, and, like any other rebel slave, I felt resolved, in my desperation, to go all lengths.

"Hold her arms, Miss Abbot: she's like a mad cat."

"For shame, for shame!" cried the lady's-maid. "What shocking conduct, Miss Eyre, to strike a young gentleman, your benefactress's son! Your young master."

"Master! How is he my master? Am I a servant?"

"No; you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep. There, sit down, and think over your wickedness."

They had got me by this time into the apartment indicated by Mrs. Reed, and had thrust me upon a stool: my impulse was to rise from it like a spring; their two pair of hands arrested me instantly.

"If you don't sit still, you must be tied down," said Bessie. "Miss Abbot, lend me your garters; she would break mine directly."

Miss Abbot turned to divest a stout leg of the necessary ligature. This preparation for bonds, and the additional ignominy it inferred, took a little of the excitement out of me.

"Don't take them off," I cried; "I will not stir."

In guarantee whereof, I attached myself to my seat by my hands.

"Mind you don't," said Bessie; and when she had ascertained that I was really subsiding, she loosened her hold of me; then she and Miss Abbot stood with folded arms, looking darkly and doubtfully on my face, as incredulous of my sanity.

"She never did so before," at last said Bessie, turning to the Abigail.

"But it was always in her," was the reply. "I've told missis often my opinion about the child, and missis agreed with me. She's an underhand little thing: I never saw a girl of her age with so much cover."

Bessie answered not; but ere long, addressing me, she said:

"You ought to be aware, miss, that you are under obligations to Mrs. Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn you off you would have to go to the poorhouse."

I had nothing to say to these words: they were not new to me: my very first recollections of existence included hints of the same kind. This reproach of my dependence had become a vague singsong in my ear; very painful and crushing, but only half intelligible. Miss Abbot joined in:

"And you ought not to think yourself on an equality with the Misses Reed and Master Reed, because missis kindly allows you to be brought up with them. They will have a great deal of money and you will have none: it is your place to be humble, and to try to make yourself agreeable to them."

"What we tell you is for your good," added Bessie, in no harsh voice: "you should try to be useful and pleasant, then, perhaps, you would have a home here; but if you become passionate and rude, missis will send you away, I am sure."

"Besides," said Miss Abbot, "God will punish her: He might strike her ead in the midst of her tantrums, and then where would she go? Come, Bessie, we will leave her: I wouldn't have her heart for anything. Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by yourself; for if you don't repent, something bad might be permitted to come down the chimney and fetch you away."

What People are saying about this

Clive Barnes
The novel that cries out for the stage has gotten the stage. The story is beautifully adapted and acted.
The New York Post
Virginia Woolf
So we open Jane Eyre... The writer has us by the hand, forces us along her road, makes us see what she sees, never leaves us for a moment or allows us to forget her. At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Bronte.... It is the red and fitful glow of the heart's fire which illuminates her page.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show, organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA and Designers & Books

Winner of the 2014 Type Directors Club Communication Design Award

Praise for Penguin Drop Caps:

"[Penguin Drop Caps] convey a sense of nostalgia for the tactility and aesthetic power of a physical book and for a centuries-old tradition of beautiful lettering."
Fast Company

“Vibrant, minimalist new typographic covers…. Bonus points for the heartening gender balance of the initial selections.”
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"The Penguin Drop Caps series is a great example of the power of design. Why buy these particular classics when there are less expensive, even free editions of Great Expectations? Because they’re beautiful objects. Paul Buckley and Jessica Hische’s fresh approach to the literary classics reduces the design down to typography and color. Each cover is foil-stamped with a cleverly illustrated letterform that reveals an element of the story. Jane Austen’s A (Pride and Prejudice) is formed by opulent peacock feathers and Charlotte Bronte’s B (Jane Eyre) is surrounded by flames. The complete set forms a rainbow spectrum prettier than anything else on your bookshelf."
—Rex Bonomelli, The New York Times

"Drool-inducing."
Flavorwire

"Classic reads in stunning covers—your book club will be dying."
Redbook

EBOOK COMMENTARY
"A masterwork. This reverse Cinderella story becomes a vital and energetic tale through McCaddon's lovely rendition." —-Library Journal Audio Review

Meet the Author

Charlotte Brontë, born in 1816, was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters, and one of the nineteenth century's greatest novelists. She is the author of Villette, The Professor, several collections of poetry, and Jane Eyre, one of English literature's most beloved classics. She died in 1855.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 21, 1816
Date of Death:
March 31, 1855
Place of Birth:
Thornton, Yorkshire, England
Place of Death:
Haworth, West Yorkshire, England
Education:
Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire; Miss Wooler's School at Roe Head

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Jane Eyre (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series) 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 729 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh brother, I could say soo much on this subject, but let me just say that this book rocks my socks off. Every time, too. I reread it every now and again, and it just gets better. I want to find a book EXACTLY like it, but that's kind of redundant. I just wish that I could flip a switch, forget every thing I just read, and read it again as if for the first time. Mr Rochester (mmm...) is just irresistible, because he isn't what he seems and is excellent at leading you in a completely opposite direction... then when everything is revealed, you love him more, and by the end of the book... you want him for your own... *Snaps out of a reverie* Ahem. Uh.. yes so Charlotte Bronte is fabulous at not revealing too much at one time. Fabulous at keeping things appropriate, but still romantic as crap. I love Jane's strong will and determination to do the right thing. I admire her a lot for everything she's been through. Each time I read it, it touches me whenever she touches happiness, and it tears me apart whenever it gets torn from her. Oh, give this book a go, just for the heck of it. I hope you enjoy it like I and so many others have. Oh, and let me just say, that when things seem slow, just think about how beautiful the writing style is, and that everything is important to unraveling the characters to the proper extent. ^.^
SouthernLadyNC More than 1 year ago
I loved this story, it moved me to the depth of my feelings for this young girl. This took place in a time era that made you feel it had to be a true story. Every woman in this day and age should read this and they would know how lucky they are to be alive now.
Nerdgirljenn More than 1 year ago
Jane Eyre tell the story of a young woman in mid 19th century England, however, any girl/woman who has ever felt out of place and alone can relate to Jane. Yes, it is a story of love, but also a story of a strong female character who, despite all, stays true to herself and her beliefs. She suffers for them, but in the end it all works out (which probably is why it makes it endearing)...so if you've ever felt out of place, "not normal", but wanting to love someone, to feel love returned, then this book is for you. It is not your typical Jane Austen type book, but has just a hint of terror, fright and thrill to take it that one step beyond. I've read this book countless times (well over a few hundred) and yet I never get tired of it. It's like watching a good movie over and over. And great for those rainy gloomy days...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm in eighth grade now, and upon reading this truely excellent novel in sixth grade, I honestly couldn't get the full understanding out of it. But I recently started rereading it, and I love it! "Jane Eyre" is a story of a young girl reaching adulthood, and all of the joys and pains along the way. It is definately for an older audience, though- no child younger than 11 or 12 would be able to know what some of the words mean (being 13 myself and having a fairly large vocabulary, I still have to look up certain words!). And this book also touches on the concept of love, which might not be altogether interesting to a younger person. Occasionally, there are some disturbing parts in it: a lunatic attempts on taking some of Jane's friends' lives, but I'm pretty sure everyone survives ;) Since this particular edition of the book is free, obviously there are going to be some somewhat confusing spelling errors here and there. But overall, "Jane Eyre" is a wonderful book, and I fully enjoy all 500-and-some pages of it! And is it just me, or do other girls find similarities between themselves and Jane? :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing, it is a must read!
mollythedolly More than 1 year ago
I have read ALOT, but nothing is like Jane Erye! I have read and reread this book many times. If you have never read it, Read it and you will become a believer!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The plot is timeless, and the characters are captivating. Trully revolutionay for the time period it was written in- cleverly feminist in nature without being pushy. Easy to read,ecspecially with errotic, musing characters like Edward Rochester (sigh, swoon)
Book_and_recipe_Examiner 8 months ago
Jane Eyre is an orphaned governess who develops romantic feelings for her employer, Mr. Rochester, a man ensconced in tragedy. Sent away to an orphanage as a child by her cruel aunt, Jane's attachments in life have been few. At Lowood, she gains a friend whose perspectives enable Jane to reign in her anger and find beauty in the darkest situations. At nineteen, Jane contentedly finds her place at Thornfield Hall, amidst the friendship of the housekeeper and her little charge, Adele. The peace is disturbed, however, when Edward Rochester, the wealthy, woeful owner of the mansion returns. For Rochester, Jane’s kindness and naivety are a catharsis for his troubled mind, and her imagination a refreshment. Jane finally has a “full life,” until a piece of Rochester’s past shatters her dreams. Jane Eyre is one of the most tragically brilliant pieces of Gothic fiction ever written, at times satisfying everything and nothing in a whirlwind of passion and drama that will appeal to readers for all time. For a themed recipe of Orange Almond Cardamom Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Frosting, as well as similar book recommendations and discussion questions, visit: http://hubpages.com/literature/Jane-Eyre-by-Charlotte-Bronte
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Nina_the_Writer More than 1 year ago
I needed this book to work on an English paper its great because you have the entire novel and essay
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know what to read afterwards, I'm left with a void.
Pen12 More than 1 year ago
This classic tells the story of Jane Eyre. She has a difficult childhood and faces obstacles throughout her life. Things seem to change for the better once she becomes a young adult, but circumstances beyond her control change everything. This is a very enjoyable book. I couldn't stop reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of very few books I can re-read!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful story. My all time fave.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a really terrible book that made me want to tear my hair out. Really I don't know why everyone thinks this book is so great. It is boring and annoying and frustrating. Also, when I read reviews I'm trying to get a feel for the book. Please do not have conversations amongst yourselves or write a review with such poor grammar and spelling that it is impossible to read. If you don't have a useful, intelligent, and concise way to convey your opinion about any book, do not write a review. You are wasting mine and everyone else's time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Night yall
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh ya! That must have been wesome!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey hey hey!!!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful prose, plot, and depth. Jane Eyre is a haunting story of love and despair, a masterpice that took a while to finish and abosrb. I am so glad I read this book!