By Kylie Burchat
For some people, reading classic books can be quite challenging because of the different language or terms that are used.
However, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, originally published in 1847, is a bit easier to understand. Even though it is a fairly large book, Brontë puts in a lot of description that will help the reader along.
The story begins with an introduction by Jane to herself. She explains that she is an orphan living with Mrs. Reed, her cruel aunt. Jane has lived with her aunt and three cousins since her parents died when she was a baby.
As the book continues to show Jane’s life with the Reeds, Jane’s cousin, John, fights with her and gets her into trouble with her aunt, who locks Jane away in the red-room, where Jane’s uncle died and she believes his ghost resides.
Soon after this traumatic experience, Jane is sent away to Lowoodschool, where life is far from happy or peaceful. The school’s headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, is a cruel man who creates problems for Jane. As she adjusts to the school, Jane befriends a young girl named Helen Burns who helps her feel happy.
Eventually it is revealed that Jane has stayed at Lowood for eight years, with the latter two as a teacher.
But Jane yearns for something new in her life and accepts a governess position at a manor called Thornfield, where she will be teaching a young French girl named Adele. Jane’s employer, Mr. Rochester, is hardly ever home, but when she meets him he is a dark, impassioned man with whom Jane eventually falls in love.
There is a secret at Thornfield which Jane discovers when she rescues Mr. Rochester from a fire one night. It is said that a servant, Grace Pool, set the fire, but when Grace is not fired, Jane realises that there is something else going on.
Jane sinks into a state of despair when Mr. Rochester brings home a beautiful, yet vain, woman named Blanche Ingram. Jane believes he will propose to Blanche. While she struggles with her feelings for Rochester, Jane is called away to see her, now dying, aunt. While there, Jane receives a letter from her uncle. After her aunt dies, Jane comes back to Thornfield, Rochester proposes to her, she accepts and the wedding is planned.
On the wedding day, Jane is visited by a strange woman who tears her wedding veil. Jane tells Rochester what she saw and they both believe it is Grace Pool. As Jane and Rochester prepare to exchange vows, a man named Mason introduces himself as the brother of Rochester’s wife, Bertha, who is still alive. Rochester cancels the wedding and takes the party up to the third floor of the manor and shows everyone his wife who has gone mad and is being taken care of by Grace.
Heartbroken, Jane flees Thornfield and travels for three days with no food or water, and eventually ends up at a manor called Moor House, where three siblings take Jane in. Jane quickly befriends the siblings and is given a job at a charity school that one sibling, St. John, runs. St. John knows who Jane is and tells her that her uncle has died and left her a large fortune of 20,000 pounds.
It is also revealed that St. John and his two sisters, Mary and Diana, are Jane’s cousins, which results in Jane sharing her inheritance equally with them. When St. John decides to travel to India as a missionary, he begs Jane to accompany him as his wife. Jane agrees to go, but not as his wife as she still loves Rochester.
As Jane stays with her cousins, she hears Rochester’s voice one night calling out to her. She immediately returns to Thornfield to find that it has been burned down by Bertha, who also lost her life in the fire. Jane learns that Rochester has been hurt by the fire and travels to his new residence, Ferndean, where they reunite and rebuild their relationship. As the reader finishes the book, it is revealed that Jane wrote it ten years after the events.
All in all, Jane Eyre is a great read in order to get a better understanding of the Victorian Gothic period. I recommend this book to anyone since it is very popular and anyone can relate to it.