Why this book?
Jane Eyre is a book I read and teach at least once a year. Its early section about childhood is, for me, the archetype of all impossible childhoods. Jane is orphaned, misunderstood, oppressed by the awful relatives who take her in, and abused by officials of Lowood School, the institution they palm her off on. Deprivation and hunger are the daily facts of her life. Humiliation, physical “punishment,” and the threat of hell are used to control her fellow wards. She is not so easily controlled. She watches while some of her fellow children, including her beloved friend Helen Burns, die because of infections caused by unhygienic conditions and malnutrition.
Despite it all, she retains an authenticity, a sense of herself that she refuses to violate to curry favor or reduce the harshness of her treatment. She remains a truth-teller, a natural detector of the pompous and hypocritical. She questions orthodoxy, she questions the Patriarchy, she questions class, she questions the limitations placed on women. Her refusal to conform and her propensity to ask hard questions, make her one of my favorite children in literature.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Canterbury Christ Church University College.
Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.
She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester.
However, there is great kindness and warmth…