Jane Eyre is still a great favorite to readers around the world. And, it's no wonder! The young girl is a compelling heroine, painted into a life of ignoble misery. She has the infamous evil stepmother (represented by her miserly aunt, the cruel (and unkind) tormentors (her cousins). She even has elements of the supernatural. Early on, she feared ghosts and that fear would be transformed into a terrible pyromaniac-madwoman.
The book has really got everything: controversy, tragedy, abuse, self-sacrifice, psychological manipulation, and so much more.
With the ever-deepening and evolving state of Jane's emotional and physical state, the novel offers something for nearly every romantic-minded reader. And, our study of Jane Eyre becomes ever more fascinating when we consider the origins of the work...
Using the pseudonym Currer Bell, Charlotte Bronte sent off her book to Smith Elder & Company on August 24, 1847. Readers loved the book (it was an immediate success), but part of the pull of this controversial bildungsroman is TRUTH. Charlotte's sisters died at boarding school; she'd taught (though not as a governess); and she fell in love with a married man (she later married a curate and died during her pregnancy).
So much of life is sadness, disappointment and surprise revelations (that don't benefit anyone), but if Jane Eyre teaches us ONE thing, it's that there's beauty and hope to be found, even in the most ugly of situations. Bronte writes: "A Christmas frost had come at midsummer; a white December storm had whirled over June; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushed the blowing roses; on hayfield and cornfield lay a frozen shroud: lanes which last night blushed full of flowers, to-day were pathless with untrodden snow; and the woods, which twelve hours since waved leafy and flagrant as groves between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild, and white as pine-forests in wintry Norway."
What madness this?