By and large, Jane Eyre is
a coming-of-age novel that traces a woman’s growing up while
struggling to maintain her independence, while simultaneously
discussing many strong topics such as integrity of one’s
character, personal sacrifice and religion.
But besides being a seminal nineteen-century novel, Jane Eyre
is also distinctly a gothic novel. In this case, we mean gothic
in the word’s fundamental sense; there are few werewolves
and vampires in Jane Eyre, however is has the classic ingredients
of a gothic novel as originally defined by the term – a
young woman, a mysterious man and a grand, dark mansion. And a
close reading of Jane Eyre reveals some supernatural elements
as well, such as the strange light that floats through the room
and the voice that calls Jane’s name from impossibly far
away. Moreover, Jane Eyre is also the origin of one of literature’s
more vivid and dramatic characters: The madwoman in the attic,
who has provided the symbol for countless ideas.
Jane Eyre and the intentions by its author, Charlotte Brontë,
have gone on to generate criticism and discussion on many levels
in society throughout the century. It is a rather lengthy text
and a standard work on any university’s English class reading
list, but that has not stopped the novel from finding a wide readership
outside the academic world; while a sizable novel, Jane Eyre is
composed in a plain language, focussing on the events of Jane
rather than ornate wording.
The inner spark that drives Jane to fight for her freedom, both
physical and spiritual, through the challenges that life throws
at her has been (and is) the topic of many theories and analyses.
This is because Jane Eyre is an ambiguous work – Jane is
a complex person, and the reader is not always granted an insight
into her inner reasoning. Also, some readings have found it to
be quite critical to the suggested oppression of organised religion,
though not necessarily opposed to the idea of God.
Read Jane Eyre to find your own opinion about one of the mote
well-known female protagonists in English literature. It’s