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Charlotte Brontë – “Jane Eyre” (1847)

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Jane Eyre /ˈɛər/ (originally published as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography) is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was published on 16 October 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co. of London, England, under the pen name “Currer Bell.” The first American edition was released the following year by Harper & Brothers of New York.

Primarily of the bildungsroman genre, Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its title character, including her growth to adulthood, and her love for Mr. Rochester, the byronic master of fictitious Thornfield Hall. In its internalisation of the action—the focus is on the gradual unfolding of Jane’s moral and spiritual sensibility and all the events are coloured by a heightened intensity that was previously the domain of poetry—Jane Eyre revolutionised the art of fiction. Charlotte Brontë has been called the ‘first historian of the private consciousness’ and the literary ancestor of writers like Joyce and Proust. The novel contains elements of social criticism, with a strong sense of morality at its core, but is nonetheless a novel many consider ahead of its time given the individualistic character of Jane and the novel’s exploration of classism, sexuality, religion, and proto-feminism. (Wikipedia)

I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort. Steps came running along the outer passage; the key turned, Bessie and Abbot entered.

“Miss Eyre, are you ill?” said Bessie.

“What a dreadful noise! it went quite through me!” exclaimed Abbot.

“Take me out! Let me go into the nursery!” was my cry.

“What for? Are you hurt? Have you seen something?” again demanded Bessie.

“Oh! I saw a light, and I thought a ghost would come.” I had now got hold of Bessie’s hand, and she did not snatch it from me.

“She has screamed out on purpose,” declared Abbot, in some disgust. “And what a scream! If she had been in great pain one would have excused it, but she only wanted to bring us all here: I know her naughty tricks.”

“What is all this?” demanded another voice peremptorily; and Mrs. Reed came along the corridor, her cap flying wide, her gown rustling stormily. “Abbot and Bessie, I believe I gave orders that Jane Eyre should be left in the red-room till I came to her myself.”

“Miss Jane screamed so loud, ma’am,” pleaded Bessie.

“Let her go,” was the only answer. “Loose Bessie’s hand, child: you cannot succeed in getting out by these means, be assured. I abhor artifice, particularly in children; it is my duty to show you that tricks will not answer: you will now stay here an hour longer, and it is only on condition of perfect submission and stillness that I shall liberate you then.”

“O aunt! have pity! Forgive me! I cannot endure it—let me be punished some other way! I shall be killed if—”

“Silence! This violence is all most repulsive:” and so, no doubt, she felt it. I was a precocious actress in her eyes; she sincerely looked on me as a compound of virulent passions, mean spirit, and dangerous duplicity.

Bessie and Abbot having retreated, Mrs. Reed, impatient of my now frantic anguish and wild sobs, abruptly thrust me back and locked me in, without farther parley. I heard her sweeping away; and soon after she was gone, I suppose I had a species of fit: unconsciousness closed the scene.

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