Jane is a penniless orphan, brought up at gateshead by her cold and hostel hunt ( Mrs reed ).
She is then sent to Lowood School a very strict school where she is not giver enough food and clothing. When she grows up, she becomes a teacher there, but finally she decides to accept a job as a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she soon fall in love with Mr Rochester, its owner.
He proposed to her, but two night before the wedding she wakes up and sees a figure standing by her bed and her wedding veil torn in two pieces. The wedding is interrupted by a stranger who declares that Rochester has already a wife, Berha Mason, a madwoman he married in the West Indies. Jane leaves Thornflied and goes to live with her cousins at Moor House. There she meets St John Rivers that proposed to her, she refuses and one night she hears Rocherster’s voice calling her. She returns to Thornefield Hall, but the house has been destroyed by a fire caused by Bertha. Mr Rochester lost his sight and a hand in the attempt to save his wife from the fire. He now lives in Ferndean, where Jane visits him and agrees to marry him. He finally recovers his sight when their first child is born.
Set in the early decades of the 19th century, the novel is structured around five separate locations, each of it provides both indoor and outdoor spaces for Jane to move through. So Jane can always move fluidly between nature and civilization and develop her inclination to cross boundaries.
Every house or place represents a stage in her life and has a symbolic name.
Gateshead -> where she spends her unhappiest moments but also reaches her ethical awakening with her imprisonment in the red room -> gateway
Lowood -> means low wood because the school was built in low valley but also because it coincides with a low time in Jane’s life.
Thornfield -> a field of thrones, the place of mystery and temptation.
Moor House -> out on the moors, in the wilderness, the place where Jane tries to give a sense to her life again.
Ferndean -> or fern hill, is the new Eden, where Jane finds mature love.
Each section of the novel represents a new phase in Jane’s experience and development. The protagonist’s character is developed very clearly.
Jane undergoes many struggled such as the conflicts between spirit and flesh, duty and desire, denial and fulfillment. The novel also established the teme of the outsider: the free spirit fighting for recognition and self respect in the cade of rejection by a class ridden and money oriented society.
In Rochester the old lustful villain is seen in a new perspective: he has the quality of a Byronic Hero, but the stereotyped seducer becomes a kind of lost nobleman of passion who is attracted to Jane’s soul and personality, rather than to her physical appearance.
Jane Eyre is a novel of growing up, so the theme of childhood and education plays an important role. Jane wants to be loved as a human being deserving affection and worth of value. As she grows up, Jane gains autonomy and economic independence and refuses a proposal of marriage twice so as not to sacrifice her moral integrity. Marriage is presented as a relationship between equals, not as a social compromise.
The most important theme is perhaps the analysis of the social position of a governess in a Victorian society. Jane is refines and has educated manners; she is treated like a servant. Charlotte clearly criticises the strict Victorian social class system and gender relationships. If Jane had been a man, she might have attempted to improve her position. Being a woman in her social class, the only chance she had was working as a governess.
Gothic -> childhood terrors and all those mysterious and threatening sights and sounds that reveal the presence of some malevolent force. -> more complicated response than the simple momentary intensity of feeling looked for by the early gothic novelists.
The use of the heroine as narrator gives unity to the novel. Everything is seen from Jane’s point of view, with whose experience the author has identified herself, and invited the engagement of every reader. Jane often addresses the reader explaining how she feels and makes decisions.
The story is told in the first person, the language is straightforward and develops differently according to the style and mood of each character. This emotional use of language conveys the author’s concern with the nature of human relationships