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Jane Eyre–a classic

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Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Brontë

with a Guide to Reading and Reflecting
by Karen Swallow Prior

Occasionally I will read a sentence plugging a newly released book that describes it as a “classic.” For me, a book has to not only be of high quality or a good example of a type of literature, but most importantly has to have stood the test of time to be considered a classic. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is one of these books. Karen Swallow Prior, a professor of English literature, is editing a series of classical books and has chosen Jane Eyre as one of her subjects. In her introduction, she discusses the author and provides background of the work and its publication. She also addresses the themes found in the book and how to read Jane Eyre through a current Christian perspective. Prior includes footnotes on archaic or unfamiliar terms and references to other works both secular and religious at the bottom of the pages where they occur. The novel is divided into three volumes; each is followed by insightful discussion questions. Also there are questions for reflection at the end which are appropriate for addressing overarching themes and issues.

Jane Eyre is a long and complex book; straight summarizing would not do it justice and would certainly contain spoilers. The volumes progress chronologically through Jane’s life, and she is the narrator. She includes the struggles she as endured that have formed her into an intellectual woman of strong moral character. She frequently quotes people as referring to her as “plain” in her physical attributes.

The novel includes social themes regarding the treatment of the poor and of women. Neither of these groups had great expectations of rising above their current status. At its heart, Jane Eyre is a romance, but it has aspects of mystery, adventure, and theology. Brontë’s treatment and development of the various characters are excellent, and there is liberal use of foreshadowing and symbolism. This is truly a classic that can be read for pure enjoyment or studied as a work of art.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Fiction, Christian, Classic, Romance

Notes: Manuscript used by editor was published in 1848

Publication: 2021—B & H Publishing

Memorable Lines:

I regained my couch, but never thought of sleep. Till morning dawned I was tossed on a buoyant but unquiet sea, where billows of trouble rolled under surges of joy. I thought sometimes I saw beyond its wild waters a shore, sweet as the hills of Beulah; and now and then a freshening gale, wakened by hope, bore my spirit triumphantly towards the bourne: but I could not reach it, even in fancy—a counteracting breeze blew off land, and continually drove me back. Sense would resist delirium; judgment would warn passion. Too feverish to rest, I rose as soon as day dawned.

This was very pleasant; there is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.

Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?


  1. I woke up this morning thinking about my favorite classics and narrowed it down to Jane Eyre and A Tale of Two Cities. Both have underlying Christian themes. Of course, I have many more classics to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      I didn’t remember much about Jane Eyre from my high school read, except that I liked it, but some things came back as I reread. I’m so glad I did. A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorites too. Dickens’ line “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” still resonates with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gretchen says:

    I have heard about these classics edited by Karen Prior Swallow and thought they sounded interesting. It has been many years since I have read Jane Eyre. Probably time for a reread.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      I was glad to reread it as I had forgotten more than I remembered. Also, I imagine my understanding at this point in my life is quite different than it was in high school.


  3. Wow, that was excellent! I haven’t read that book in years and barely remember it or what it was about; I just know that it was good. I must have been around 10 or so when I first got it at the local library; miss those days at the library!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      Libraries have changed with the times and that is a good thing, but I too miss my childhood library with its treasure trove of books. I think I read Jane Eyre in high school. I still have the paperback copy with its browning paper and tiny print. It cost $.60 at that time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. WendyW says:

    I read Jane Eyre about 3 years ago and loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am putting this on my list, thanks for the suggestion Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. LA says:

    I saw the movie Emily yesterday, about Emily Bronte. It’s what I call highly fictionalized, but it does make me wonder about the sisters

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      Timely in light of my reading. I wouldn’t imagine the lives of the Brontë sisters would be well documented so Hollywood is happy to fill in the blanks. I haven’t seen the movie, but you have piqued my interest.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LA says:

        It’s got some good stuff, but so much fictionalized filler done purely to entice an audience. It’s a little slow in spots, lots of Moor walking, and the actors are attractive enough, but I’m glad I saw it

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy says:

    I remember this from high school as well. But I forget it. So it’s on my list to read again soon. Thanks for reminding us.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Such a classic when I was a kid, and still is!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Carla says:

    I read Jane Eyre many years ago. I have seen a few different versions on TV and at the theatre and enjoyed them. I probably won’t read it again, but I’m glad you enjoyed it, Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

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