“If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we would-so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.”Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: Orphaned at an early age, Jane Eyre leads a lonely life until she finds work as a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she meets the mysterious Mr. Rochester and sees a ghostly woman who roams the halls by night. This is a story of passionate love, agony but ultimately triumph. Jane Eyre is a gutsy heroine who possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage. She battles against the pressure of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order that restrict her life and position.
- In Jane Eyre, nothing can better show a man's moral worth than the way in which he treats the women in his life. How is Rochester's character reflected in the way he treats Jane, Adele, Bertha Mason, and Miss Ingram, and in his reported treatment of Celine Varens? How is St. John's character reflected in the way he treats Jane, Miss Oliver, and Diana and Mary? Why does this serve as such a good gauge of a man's morality and worth?
- Brontë fills the novel with many female characters roughly the same age as Jane—Georgiana and Eliza Reed, Helen Burns, Blanche Ingram, Mary and Diana Rivers, and Rosamund Oliver. How do comparisons with these characters help shape your understanding of Jane's characters?
- What is the balance of power between Jane and Rochester when they marry? Does this balance change from the beginning of the marriage to the time ten years later that Jane describes at the end of the novel?
- Should an individual who holds a position of authority be granted the respect of others, regardless of his or her character?
(Adapted from Simon & Schusters Collecter’s Series, Random House, and Penguin Classics Edition and photo from My Book Covers by Megan Wilson)