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Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
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Jane Eyre is a wildly emotional romance, with a lonely heroine and a tormented Byronic hero, pathetic orphans, dark secrets, and a mad-woman in the attic. When it was published in 1847 it was a great popular success. The power of the writing, the masterly handling of narrative, and the boldly realistic style were much admired. But when Currer Bell, the pseudonymous author, was revealed to be Charlotte Bronte, a young woman from a bleak Yorkshire parsonage, critics were disapproving. Jane Eyre is full of erotic tension, passion, and irony. These were not qualities encouraged in Victorian women writers, and Jane Eyre was an 'immoral production' to more than one contemporary. For late-twentieth-century readers, however, the book is an astonishing paradigm of feminist writing. At its heart is the assertion that a woman has the right to be independent, and its insistence on that fact and on the equality of the sexes makes it a truly revolutionary work of art.
Random House Publishing Group; October 2000
ISBN 9780679641186
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Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
 
Excerpt
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 out-door 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 mama 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 book-case: 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 cross-legged, 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 of 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 letter-press 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.'
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ISBNs
0679641181
9780679424727
9780679641186