When it was first published in 1847, Jane Eyre was remarkable for its portrayal of a thinking, feeling woman who is rich in individuality and passionate in her desire for a full life. And as contemporary readers the world over can attest, the novel has lost none of its fire. The story of Jane Eyre’s metamorphosis from a frustrated, lonely orphan into a compassionate, self-confident, independent woman is a gripping one, made powerful by an elaborate plot that is purposefully executed and a writing style that is as fiery and morally impressive as the novel’s heroine.
Jane herself recounts the story of the physical and moral oppression she endures as a child in the home of her hateful aunt and cousins, and later at the harsh boarding school she is sent to; of her employment as governess at Thornfield Hall, whose enigmatic owner; the gruff yet kind Edward Rochester, Jane finds fascinating; of the admiration and love that develops between them and that fate takes away; and of Jane’s eventual evolution into a whole woman, after enduring poverty and isolation once more.
Impressively, Charlotte Brontë succeeds in fully expressing Jane’s character and in working out completely the themes that are so integral to her spirited heroine: love, independence, and forgiveness.