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Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

4.4 1439
by Charlotte Bronte

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Initially published under the pseudonym Currer Bell in 1847, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre erupted onto the English literary scene, immediately winning the devotion of many of the world's most renowned writers, including William Makepeace Thackeray, who declared it a work "of great genius."

Widely regarded as a revolutionary novel, Brontë's


Initially published under the pseudonym Currer Bell in 1847, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre erupted onto the English literary scene, immediately winning the devotion of many of the world's most renowned writers, including William Makepeace Thackeray, who declared it a work "of great genius."

Widely regarded as a revolutionary novel, Brontë's masterpiece introduced the world to a radical new type of heroine, one whose defiant virtue and moral courage departed sharply from the more acquiescent and malleable female characters of the day.

Passionate, dramatic, and surprisingly modern, Jane Eyre endures as one of the world's most beloved novels. This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition includes newly written explanatory notes.

(Cover features a removable movie tie-in bellyband.)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Brontë."
—Virginia Woolf
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.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

From the Introduction by Lucy Hughes-Hallet

Jane Eyre was published in 1847. One year later, a year during which Europe had been convulsed by revolution, a contributor to the Quarterly Review declared 'We do not hesitate to say that the tone of the mind and thought which has overthrown authority and violated every code human and divine abroad, and fostered Chartism and rebellion at home, is the same which has also written Jane Eyre.' Conservatives hostile to innovation — political or artistic — are often surer judges of innovation's potency than its supporters. (Anti-feminists who prophesied that the enfranchisement of women would irreparably disrupt the institutions of home and family have proved more prescient than the liberals who maintained that a vote was just a vote.) Jane Eyre has frequently been underestimated by those who have enjoyed it most. True, it boasts a pair of beguiling lovers whose romance is written in a prose so flexible and sensuous that to read the passages describing their courtship is to be seduced just as they are seduced by each other. True, it is a multi-faceted wish-fulfillment fantasy in which the heroine marries her true love while retaining her independence. True, it is a romantic melodrama, with saintly dying orphans, dark secrets, supernatural voices and crises marked by lightening flashes and a blood-red moon. True, in the words of Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, it is 'the archetypal scenario for all those mildly thrilling romantic encounters between a scowling Byronic hero (who owns a gloomy mansion) and a trembling heroine (who can't quite figure our the mansion's floor plan)'. But it is also, as the Quarterly Review's Elizabeth Rigby divined, a revolutionary text.

It questions the institutions of marriage and inheritance. It makes a laughing stock of religious cant and presume to suggest that even sincere religious conviction is morbid and barren. It proclaims the equality of a governess and a gentleman. It flouts contemporary sexual propriety. When the novel was first published Charlotte Brontë was accused of desperate radicalism on all of these grounds. Now, after a lapse of near on a century and a half, such transgressions against convention seem tame, but Jane Eyre retains its power to subvert and exhilarate for a reason which is unlikely to go out of date for a long while yet. In it, for what was arguably the first time in literary history, a female author gave full, shameless and magnificently achieved expression of the ardour, vicissitudes and ultimate gratification of a woman's desire.

The desire is largely, but not solely, sexual. Jane Eyre is one of the most intensely erotic works of fiction in English. Its hero's allure was instantly recognized and he was imitated accordingly. As Caroline Norton complained in 1864, 'Ever since Jane Eyre loved Mr Rochester a race of novel-heroes have sprung up . . . Brutal and selfish in their ways, and rather repulsive in person, they are nevertheless represented as perfectly adorable and carrying all before them.' But Jane wants much more than a dominating broad-chested lover with a grim jaw, a harsh line in banter and great dark eyes. She wants independence, she wants money of her own, she wants work for her imagination and intellect, she wants a house with beloved people in it, she wants liberty and she wants power. Above all, she wants to be herself. As a child she sees her own image look out of the red-room mirror, 'a strange little figure' with 'glittering eyes of fear'. The apparition precipitates the 'fit' which is the first of the psychic rites of passage punctuating her story. Her relationship with that strange littler person remains problematic, but she will not, or cannot abandon it any more than she can free herself from the wailing child that clings to her in her dreams. At her greatest crisis she resists temptation, proclaiming 'I care for myself' (though no one else does). Rochester seems to her like 'the depths of the sea' in which 'the brook' which is herself will be swallowed up. Later St John Rivers poses a similar danger: 'I was tempted to cease struggling with him — to rush down the torrent of his will into the gulf of his existence, and there lose my own.' Each man, in his different way, offers her the luxury of self-abandonment, but that abandonment, like the death she hopes for on the moors near Whitcross, would be a betrayal of her self, a betrayal of which Jane is simply not capable. It is only when maturity, augmented social status, moral self-respect, the confidence that comes from having been wanted by two men and, not least, money, have given her the power to assert, 'I am an independent woman now. I am my own mistress' that she is ready for happiness. Had her first projected wedding taken place it would have made her 'Jane Rochester', an alien and not entirely enviable person, an appendage of a personality so dominant that his wife could scarcely hope to be more than his ornamental pet. 'When once I have fairly seized you, to have and to hold, I'll just — figuratively speaking — attach you to a chain like this (touching his watch-guard).' Rochester's style of wooing is ominously ill-judged. If Jane had married him on his own and the world's terms she would have lost herself, as brides do in fairy tales (the fact that marriage is conventionally presented as an ending reflects a truth, that an autonomous girl's life ends when the wife is called into being). But when Jane finds Rochester at Ferndean, which is both the Valley of the Shadow and the castle buried in a wood where the Sleeping Beauty lies torpid until awakened by love, the roles have been reversed. It is she who is now a position to have and to hold, to protect and to love. Rochester used to spy on her, manipulate her, set her tests and traps. But no at last 'He stretched his hand out to be led. I took that dear hand, held it a moment to my lips, then let it pass round my shoulder: being so much lower of stature than he, I served both for his prop and guide.'

Like all substantial revolutions, this one has its casualties. The muted and troubling tone of the novel's ending reflects the gravity of the struggle it concludes. Jane Eyre has become her beloved's equal, 'I am my husband's life and he is mine.' That equality has been realized partly as the result of her happy acquisition of power, but in equal measure by his desolating loss of it. The blinding and mutilation of Mr Rochester has shocked readers ever since the novel was first published. It still shocks now. Critics have explained it biographically, as an expression of Charlotte Brontë's own flinching from sexual fulfilment. Freudians have interpreted it as a metaphorical castration. Moralists have pointed out that it is a divine punishment: after her aborted wedding Jane recalls the words of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Christ commands adulterers, 'If thy eye offend thee, pluck it out . . . and if they right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee.' Men (and some women) have seen it as a cruel and unnecessary punishment inflicted by a feminist author on her hapless male creation. It is, to some extent, all of these things. But it is also a just image of the pain which attends any radical transformation, whether of an individual or of a whole society. Only a sentimentalist could suppose that the vast barriers, social, moral, sexual and economic, which separate Jane Eyre from Edward Fairfax Rochester could be blasted aside without some violence being perpetrated, some wounds being sustained. Charlotte Brontë was no sentimentalist. She refused to conclude her other masterpiece, Villette, with a happy resolution: indeed she refused to conclude it at all. Jane Eyre is allowed her wedding at last and we are assured that it is followed by years of happiness and undiminished love, but though her words 'Reader, I married him' have been quoted as an epigraph for all those romantic novels which end in blissful wedlock, her own story finishes doubtfully. The lovers' reunion takes place at Ferndean and, as Mr Rochester has explicitly told us, to live there is tantamount to dying. Perhaps they find a new home after the wedding: optimistic readers have assumed so. But houses are accorded such significance in Jane Eyre that Charlotte Brontë's omission of any mention of such a move cannot be mere negligence. It casts a doubt over her character's ultimate fate, and so does the disconcerting shift in the final paragraphs. Jane has been talking of love and happiness — her own, Rochester's, that of the Rivers sisters and their respective husbands. Then, in conclusion, she turns to St John, the man whose value system she has so resolutely rejected and who has assumed in the reader's mind the character of a Robespierre, of an incorruptible killer. She praises him to the skies and then ends by quoting his own word: '"My Master," he says, "has forewarned me. Daily he announces more distinctly, — 'Surely, I come quickly;' and hourly I more eagerly respond, — 'Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!'"' So in the novel's last line Jane's epithet for Rochester, 'my Master', is used to invoke death. The revolution she has instigated, and which has brought her her heart's desire, has been a bloody one. It has brought loss and grief as well as maturity and fulfilment, and the possibility lingers that the object of that desire, so hard fought for, may itself be fatal.

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


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

Meet the Author

Diane Johnson is the author of many books, including the bestselling novel Le Divorce, which was a 1997 National Book Award finalist, and Le Mariage.

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
Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire; Miss Wooler's School at Roe Head

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Jane Eyre 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1439 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing, truly fantastic! All my classmates gave me weird looks because it looked strange 'im in 8th grade' but I ignored them and read it anyway and it was just, just, I can't say, you know! the ending made me so happy that i cryed, crazy huh? I handed it to my teacher and gushed, 'it was beautiful, so beautiful!' 'it was her copy' so if your some random person looking to see if this book is good, IT IS. If a kid as younge as me can appreciate it fully, you have to understand how utterly perfect it is! Read read! ^ ^
Ivy-Shoelaces More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my AP English class; we all kind of dreaded it whe we first heard. I was once told by a friend that it was horrible and that I should never, ever read it. I did, anyway, and I was thoroughly surprised and I enjoyed every bit of it! Knowing very little about the plot (I'd only been told there's a crazy person in an attic --- which I forgot about), or even Bronte's writing style, I read the first ten chapters with shock and awe that the story was about a ten-year-old. Although the entire book is not about a ten-year-old, I was quickly taken with the plot and characters and just descriptions of England at that time. This book read quickly with alternately likeable and despicable characters, unusual language, and beautiful plot. My only complaint is that one character, Adele, speaks chiefly in French. I was lucky enough to be taking French classes while reading this, so I could piece together what she was essentially saying. What she says is not of a whole lot of importance, but it does bring the book to a halt at times. All in all, Jane Eyre exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds and I enjoyed reading it immensely.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is very disconcerting for me to see such negative reviews about a book which has elevated literature throughout the world. This book is a challenging read, however it has the potential to expand one's mind by making a person think in an entirely new way. It is a book full of suspense, mystery, and romance. Charlotte Bronte uses words in the most discriptive manner and gives us a heroine who is complex on the inside, yet plain on the outside. It is singlehandedly one of the best classical books of all time and it should be required reading for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jane Eyre is quite possibly one of my favorite books, one that I have read many times. I bought this edition because I thought the cover was pretty and the fantastic price. Bronte's original text is flawless (although Hindustani is spelled differently in my other copy)I give Bronte 5 stars, however, the introduction by Joyce Carol Oates is terrible. I found it choppy and not that relevant to the story. I don't believe for two seconds that Bertha Mason's insanity was caused by syphilis. I just don't. I also don't buy that Jane thinks human love is more important than God. If she did why did she spend so much time on her knees in prayer? Not one summary, review or movie version I have seen of this story acknowledges any sort of higher power in a non nutcase way. What a shame, I think Bronte should get more credit and less speculation. Let's just take it in the context she wished. I feel better after venting my opinions, bottom line if you want a good copy of Jane Eyre this will work, just ignore the introduction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just read a WONDERFUL book entitled "The Thirteeth Tale" and the author referenced Jane Eyre numerous times in the book, so I needed to know why this book was referenced so much and I picked up the book as soon as I finished "The Thirteenth Tale." I had no expectation when I began the book. In my opinion Jane Eyre truly lives up to it's "classic" classification. It is has romance, drama, thrills and in the end I could not read it fast enough to see what happened to Jane. It is very, very well written and was way ahead of it's time when originally published in 1847. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jane Eyre is one of those books you can start anywhere anytime and get so incredibly caught up in the story that you never want to stop reading. I've read this book more than fifteen times and have written multiple research papers on it. The characters are well developed, even smaller ones. Jane is a very strong female character, as is Mr. Rochester. The love story between the two does not dominate Jane's character; she remains true to herself regardless of the situation. This truly is a novel written for all women and should be read by all.
ash_glasswing More than 1 year ago
If you're a fan of historical romances such as Pride & Prejudice, Becoming Jane, or Sense & Sensibility you would be depriving yourself of experiencing the beauty of this story by not reading it. I can't wait to see the newest version in theaters!! Please read this and be patient with it's lengthy beginning.. I promise it gets better :) -ash
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a bit slow through the first half, but once it gets past Jane's childhood it becomes fascinating and was actually hard to put down. I was amazed by Brontë's vocabulary, writing style, and ability to create such an intriguing and original plot. This is the kind of book that makes you really feel for the characters and get lost in the adventures of their lives. Right when you think you know what's going to happen, Jane Eyre surprises you and another twist to the plot comes in. By the end of the book, I really respected Jane's character and was glad that everything turned out in a way that she liked and had not expected. This is a great classic -- read it!
swift__cat More than 1 year ago
Jane Eyre is one of the best classic romance novels I have ever read. As we follow Jane through her harshly brought up childhood to the challenges of her adulthood, we see not only the development of her identity but also the merging of minds between herself and her strange but intelligent employer. Ah, but there is a secret that destroys everything expected! Read this book if you enjoy romance with literary value.
jennysiwss More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book. Jane Eyre is the respectable, yet fiery lady that I wish I could be. It begins with a stormy and well written childhood, and within a few chapters I couldn't put the book down. I've read classics that I was disappointed in, but this is truly worthy of the title "classic". The love story is so pure, and well worth waiting for. Mr. Rochester seems so unlikable at first, but you just can't help falling inlove with him as the book goes on. I wasn't crazy about St. John. but his purpose was necessary to give you a scare. This book gives great insight to the condition of living for women during this time period. Thank God things have changed. I would've been strung up by my toenails if Reverend Brocklehurst had spoke to me the way he spoke to little Jane. After I read it, I wanted more even though the ending was perfect and filling. Beautifully written characters, and C. Bronte's style of writing is fantastic. I did have to keep a dictionary by my side through most of the book, but I'm not a brilliant kind of gal. The improvement of my vocabulary could only be a plus though. Thank you Miss Charlotte Bronte for this timeless piece of work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for the first time at age 30. I was a little reluctant, expecting to be disappointed since it's supposed to be a great "coming of age" story, leading me to think I should've read it when I was much younger. No regrets here...this book is appropriate for any age, and by the end of the book, had leaped right to the top of my all-time favorites list. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Jane Eyre. If I were rating Jane Eyre I would give it six stars out of five. (No that's not a typo.) However, do not buy this book. Buy Jane Eyre, by all means, just don't buy this version of it. There are about five typos a page and by the time I finished the novel, I was so frustrated with the mis-prints I could have screamed. And the cover does the book no justice. The clothing of the woman on the cover is of a different time period than Eyre. The back summary is also hugely misleading and makes this fantastic classic sound more like a trashy romance novel than the brilliantly beautiful work that it truly is. But, do buy Jane Eyre. I have never been so moved by a work of literature than by this book. I cannot praise this book enough, mere words do it no justice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This Charlotte Bronte novel is a wonderful read. I enjoyed everything about this book. It kept me captivated until the very last page. I would recommend Jane Eyre to all readers!
Bad_Witch More than 1 year ago
Whenever the Jane Eyre series was on PBS I would always catch the last part, so I went to a local used book store and found a copy. I did not put the book down until I was done.
A Very good book, I would recommend reading Jane Eyre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great classical book for high school and college students. It is one of the few classics that has a satisfying ending. The notes found in the Barnes and Noble edition are very helpful.
FollowGreeks1 More than 1 year ago
Jane Eyre is a fabulous tale of the orphaned girl Jane who all along had struggled to find her place, and when she finds her place theres more!!! Fabulous Book! Great classical tale!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JANE EYRE is such an amazing story that it is extremely difficult to put down. This girl, Jane Eyre, reminds me of the orphan named Annie (from the classic movie, 'ANNIE').
AnimalGurl More than 1 year ago
     I was assigned to read this book for my Honors English IV class, and at first I just wanted to stuff the book into my backpack  and leave it there! However as I forced myself to read the book, I became more and more interested after Jane moves to  Thornfield Hall and meets Mr. Rochester. Jane is such an interesting character, she says and thinks the opposite from what you  would expect.      Jane Eyre’s story starts out with the abuse from the Reeds, then moving to a private school, leading her as an adult to a governess  position at Thornfield Hall. Unknown supernatural happenings that occur throughout the book remind me of the TV show  “Unsolved Mysteries,” which only made me want to read till the end to figure out what happens. When I found out what came about,  the shocking truth had me asking myself “What?!” and saying “No way…wow.      From a hard upbringing with the Reeds to the events that happen at Thornfield Hall, Jane’s resilience to the situations that occur will  have you flipping the pages to solve the mysteries that unfold.
SunshineRE More than 1 year ago
Jane Erye is a romantic piece of literary work that describes the life of a woman. I taught this novel to 12th graders and even the males enjoyed the mystery and intrigue of one of the main characters. A must read!!
reading-princess More than 1 year ago
Jane Eyre is one of those books you can read a hundered times and never get bored of it. It is meant to last for as long as people can read. This book is perfect for everyone because it covers all kinds of entertainment; there is the love story, chick flick of Jane's inner power, the family drama, youth mistakes and the funny innocence of Adele's mind. This book is approproate for every woman out there, and a perfect gift to any young lady.
KCox More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I am a fan of the Bronte sisters but this is by far my favorite book of theirs if not my favorite book ever. I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys classic literature. This story takes you all over then brings you to where you want to be. I highly recommend it.
aspiring_novelistAS More than 1 year ago
this book was amazing. i read it in about four days and i just didn't want to put it down. At first i wasn't too into it but then around 50 pages in i was hooked. This is still my all time favorite book hands down.
hey-lover More than 1 year ago
Jane Eyre is an amazing book and definitely one of my favorites. The beginning, to be quite honest, did start out a little slow for me, however, once I got past all the "background information," I found myself almost obsessed with wanting to know what happened next. A wonderful book, I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jane Eyre is amazing! I love this book! I read it in seventh grade at the suggestion of a librarian and have been in love with it ever since. My younger sister then read it and fell in love too. Charlotte Bronte's masterpeice is amazing and remains a favorite of mine, as it will for all time. It is because of this masterpiece I love classic literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book today. I read it in two days. Last month I saw the movie directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and after I saw that I decided I had to get the book. I was not dissapointed. Bronte dove deep into Janes heart, without becoming over complicated or boring. I was completely engrossed every second. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?