Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was published 170 years ago

Charlotte Brontë

Intelligent and educated women can become so much more than governesses these days, but the originality and remarkable psychological insight of Charlotte Brontë’s legendary novel “Jane Eyre” is still compelling, 170 years after its publishing in London under the pseudonym “Currer Bell”.

The novel’s draft had been rejected multiple times. Charlotte decided to offer it once more, and this time, it was published. Lo and behold, it was an instant success with the readers, controversial as it was! Its social criticism was sharper than Dickens’. Its stark depiction of an underprivileged woman pursued by a rich aristocrat who had hidden his mad wife in the attic was as bittersweet as it was indecent.

Indecent, as Jane Eyre didn’t marry Mr. Rochester because she wanted to marry someone (or anyone) to evade the dreary fate of Victorian spinsters. She married him because she wanted to marry him. She is a free spirit, unconventionally self-liberated from the specifically female confinements imposed by the male authority.

Jane drew the strength to actively shape her own life out of numerous injustices that she experienced at Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Marsh End.

Her creator Charlotte was angry too. So angry at the injustice of repressed female sensibility and preventing them diligently from artistic outpouring of their anger, that she infused her hearty heroine with this defiance: “I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience,” hisses Jane.

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For all of you who would like to find out more, or just to recall some details from the lives and works of three weird sisters of Victorian Gothic fiction, here is an informative documentary film.

Last year marked two centuries from Charlotte’s birth.

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