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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 mannersomething lighter, franker, more natural, as it wereshe 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 bookBewick'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 spacethat 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 rainbad 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 murdereryou are like a slave-driveryou 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.
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 dead 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."
Table of Contents
NOTE TO THE THIRD EDITION
What People are Saying About This
"A masterwork. This reverse Cinderella story becomes a vital and energetic tale through McCaddon's lovely rendition." -Library Journal Audio Review
The novel that cries out for the stage has gotten the stage. The story is beautifully adapted and acted.
The New York Post
Reading Group Guide
1. In Jane Eyre, nothing can better show a man's moral worth than the way in which he treats the women in his life. How is Rochester's character reflected in the way he treats Jane, Adele, Bertha Mason, and Miss Ingram, and in his reported treatment of Celine Varens? How is St. John's character reflected in the way he treats Jane, Miss Oliver, and Diana and Mary? Why does this serve as such a good gauge of a man's morality and worth? What other relationships serve similar functions in the novel?
2. Throughout the novel, questions of identity are raised. From her identity as an orphan and stranger in the hostile environment of Gateshead Hall to that of a ward of the church at Lowood; from her being a possible wife of Rochester, then of St. John, to being the cousin of Diana and Mary, Jane is constantly in transition. Trace these changes in identity and how they affect Jane's view of herself and the world around her. Describe the final discovery of her identity that becomes apparent in the last chapter of the novel and the events that made that discovery possible.
3. Throughout the novel, Charlotte Brontë uses biblical quotes and religious references. From the church-supported school she attended that was run by Mr. Brocklehurst to the offer of marriage she receives from St. John, she is surrounded by aspects of Christianity. How does this influence her throughout her development? How do her views of God and Christianity change from her days as a young girl to the end of the novel? How is religion depicted in the novel, positively or negatively?
4. Many readers of Jane Eyre feel that the story is composed of two distinct parts, different in tone and purpose. Thefirst part (chapters 1-11) concerns her childhood at Gateshead and her life at Lowood; the second part is the remainder of the story. Is creating such a division justified? Is there a genuine difference of tone and purpose between the two sections as they have been described? Some critics and readers have suggested that the first part of Jane Eyre is more arresting because it is more directly autobiographical. Do you find this to be true?
5. Upon publication, great speculation arose concerning the identity of the author of Jane Eyre, known only by the pen name Currer Bell. Questions as to the sex of the author were raised, and many critics said that they believed it to be the work of a man. One critic of her time said, "A book more unfeminine, both in its excellence and defects, it would be hard to find in the annals of female authorship. Throughout there is masculine power, breadth and shrewdness, combined with masculine hardness, coarseness, and freedom of expression." Another critic of the day, Elizabeth Rigby, said that if it was the product of a female pen, then it was the writing of a woman "unsexed." Why was there such importance placed on the sex of the author and why was it questioned so readily? What does it mean that people believed it to be the product of a man rather than of a woman?
6. Scenes of madness and insanity are among the most important plot devices in Jane Eyre. From the vision Jane sees when locked in the bedroom at Gateshead to her hearing the "goblin laughter" she attributes to Grace Poole, to the insanity and wretchedness of Bertha Mason, madness is of central importance to the plot and direction of the story. Give examples of madness in the text, and show how they affect the reader's understanding of the character experiencing the madness and how these examples affect the reader's understanding of the characters witnessing it.
7. There is probably no single line in the whole of Jane Eyre that has, in itself, attracted as much critical attention as the first line of the last chapter: "Reader, I married him." Why is the phrasing of this line so important? How would the sense be different-for the sentence and for the novel as a whole-if the line read, "Reader, we were married"?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
I loved this book!!! It really makes you think of all of the possibilities in life. It has really high vocab but the nook has a built in dictionary so you can understand it( Im a 12 year old and I read it).Everyone has to read this book because it teaches you many things about life. I won't say what happened ( because I dont want to ruin it for you) but I reccomend it for everyone.
Great book for those whom appreciate details, old english writing style(yet very understandable), a romantic tragedy, and the years of a girl becoming a woman. Although, not many will enjoy such book if your not into classics. Hope you enjoy Jane Eyre or give it a try.
I love Jane Eyre, but during "Chaptee 1", Jane's relatives are either the Eeeds, the Keeds, or even the Beeds, but rarely the Reeds. Find another version!
I adore this book. Read it for the first time at age ten. Several times since. Its amazing how your reading changes as your understanding does.
Great book. I luved it!!
Definitely one of my all-time favorites. I absolutely love this book!!!!!!
Ive read this book about 13 times yet i never get bord of it. Its a fantastic read,thge best book ive ever read and ive read alot. You wont be dissapointed in this book.
This is my fave classic book ever! I've just started reading classic books. I think I've read three or four now. But I don'think I'll ever read another classic book like Jane Eyre. It was so beautiful and romantic. You can really get into the book and the character. it was very well writen by Mrs. Bronte.
One of my favorites of all time. I promise you will love Jane Eyre.
Start to finish, Jane Eyre remains gripping. Always a favorite, despite many years of rereading.
I had never read this book in High School like my daughter did and thought it was about time I read it. It is my daughter's favorite book. It was well written and had a good plot. Writers in the distant past payed a lot more attention to describing in detail the surroundings and the thoughts and feelings going on in the main character's head. Today's authors are too much in a hurry to go into so much detail. Some of the description I wanted to be done with already, but others I greatly enjoyed because it gave me insight into Jane and Mr. Rochester. It made them into real people. This book shows how someone who had a rather wretched childhood could grow up to be a very fine woman. Great book!
I loved this book when I first read it when I was a teenager. I am now in my late sixties and I still love it. I have read this book aloud to all my loved ones and to myself many times and I just decided to visit my friend, Jane, again. I envy those that read it for the first time. It is simply a classic for a reason - it's a great book!
Never before has a book so easily become my favorite. After you get through the first few pages, you can easily understand what Jane is saying in modern terms. I'm not going to lie, it was a little low in the beginning, but as tge story progresses you'll be so sucked into Jane's life. I love this book so much and recommend it 100%!
If your going to make a book for someone to enjoy why dont you at least run it through spell check first?
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.
I haven't finished the book, but so far it bas been astounding! I saw the recent movie and adored, so I am reading the book. Chapter one is slow, but picks up soon. I am shocked by how hooked I was by chapter four. Very elaborate descrptions, but those never caused any harm. Enjoying thoroughly!
Wow these characters seem so normal for Charlotte Bronte..... oh wait there it is, there's the crazy.
I loved this book when I was a teenager. Jane's ability to keep her independance, spirit and principles in the face of the trials life throws at her is inspirational, and the book overflows with a love of passionate life.It is interesting to come back to as an adult though. Rochester/Jane seen with a greater sense of perspective is a very strange relationship. The age-gap, the power imbalence, the utterly messed-up way his courtship of her mostly involves pretending he is going to marry someone else... Their love is remarkable, but it's not really very _nice_.This time I also found myself intregued by the attitudes to marriage and religion. The constant theme, from both Rochester and St John, that they must marry Jane so that they have her secure forever is very claustrophobic. And I think the book shows an unusual attitude to religion - on one hand it is faith in God and morality that Jane uses as a reason to run from Mr Rochester, but at the same time she rejects what many would have seen as the 'God sent' calling from St John. Combined with the supernatural intervention at the point where Jane and Rochester pray for help, this picture of a God who prioritises the fulfilment of romantic love over dutiful work as a missionary is not one commonly found.
Early days in my journey through the literary classics. To date my favourite by far. I love the beautifully descriptive language. I believed in Jane & Mr Rochester as characters and I found the story compelling.
I chose to listen to this book, rather than reading it since it would be my 3rd or 4th time. I always loved the book and first read it in high school and then soon after. Now 20 years later I am surprised at the age of the book and content. What seemed to me a good story before, now seen in the light of what I know about the advancements in literature, is wondrous! Especially in the field of romantic fiction I can see why the Bronte's were so popular, and probably scandalous. I laughed at some of the dialog, "You poor and obscure, and poor and plain as you are, I entreat to accept me as a husband." Sweep the girl off her feet Rochester! Though I laugh, the book has all the elements of a classic, and will be sure to remain so in the future.
I really enjoyed Jane Eyre it was a really interesting book that showed the life of orphan Jane Eyre thru her different times in her life, but the story really starts when she gets a job as a governess at in a household owned by Mr. Rochester there as their love for each other unravels Jane is intrigued by the strange noises coming from the attack where Mr. Rochester keeps a secret. Jane Eyre unravels the mystery and secrets. it is really a great piece of lititcure that has been enjoyed for centenaries
I have just finished reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte for the fifth time in my life. I find that every time I read this book I learn something new or interpret a scene differently. I have read this book during all different phases of my life and I find that through every reading I am completely affected with the story even though I know exactly what is going to happen. The premise of the book everyone knows, our story is about the life of Jane Eyre through her childhood living at the home of her aunt who doesn¿t love or want to keep her to her adult years as governesses for the ward of Mr. Rochester of Thornfield Hall. Jane develops a relationship with her employer that soon blossoms into a fierce love but Mr. Rochester has a secret that he is keeping from Jane that threatens to rip everything apart leaving Jane utterly homeless and alone. This book has been talked about time and time again and I think one of the main reasons it stands the testament of time is that Charlotte Bronte creates a heroine who is so easy to sympathize with and Jane¿s connections with her audience is felt throughout the entire book and begins on the first page. This to me is the best thing about the book because we know exactly how Jane thinks, and feels and we come to love and adore her for her plainness, intelligence, and spirit. Of course it also helps that our hero Mr. Rochester is so attractive with his brooding, temperamental personality but he is one of my favorite male characters in all of literature because he is so developed I can picture him perfectly in my mind. Every young woman dreams of meeting their Mr. Rochester because he loves Jane with a passion that is hard to believe could exist. So I highly recommend reading this novel because I think it deserves all of the attention it gets. Charlotte Bronte is a master storyteller and uses such elements of horror to create a timeless gothic romance novel.
I loved this book. From the start Jane and her troubles held my attention. I was rooting for her the whole time hoping she would succeed in school as well as life. The romance that turns up by mid book was wonderful and I couldn't put the book down until I knew if Jane and Mr. Rochester would get together or not. Jane Eyre is a book about a strong woman who knows what she wants out of life and love. I definitely want to buy a copy so I can read it again and again.
Nice romance, but a little too romantic (in the sense of over-excitable) and mystical for my taste. The main character is very believable and lovable, I like the way she stands up for what she believes in and her independence of character.