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Jane Eyre | Study Guide

Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre | Quotes


You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama's expense.

John Reed, Chapter 1

This quotation reveals that the reason the Reed family isolates and despises Jane is because she is poor. It also establishes that Jane is in some ways outside of the social class system.


I was a discord in Gateshead Hall: I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage. If they did not love me, in fact, as little did I love them.

Jane Eyre, Chapter 2

Jane, isolated and punished in the red-room, reveals how rejected, unloved, and alone she feels among the Reeds. Her physical isolation in the room reflects how emotionally isolated she feels. In the same speech, she says that, in the Reeds' eyes, she is "useless" and "noxious." The strong terms reveal how deeply and sharply she feels their contempt and disapproval. Considering Jane is only 10 years old, and the preceding pages showed John Reed unfairly attacking her and her aunt unfairly punishing her, the passage adds to the sympathy readers feel for her.


I could not see how poor people had the means of being kind; and then to learn to speak like them, to adopt their manners, to be uneducated, to grow up like one of the poor women I saw sometimes nursing their children or washing their clothes at the cottage doors of the village of Gateshead: no, I was not heroic enough to purchase liberty at the price of caste.

Jane Eyre, Chapter 3

As much as Jane wants to be free of the Reeds, she knows enough about the limitations of being poor to decide that she's better off with them than she'd be living with poor relations. This quotation relates to the theme of social class and gender.


I am glad you are no relation of mine: I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty.

Jane Eyre, Chapter 4

After Mrs. Reed calls Jane a liar to Mr. Brocklehurst, Jane strikes back, expressing the full weight of her bitter feelings and isolation. Later she reflects on how her outburst did not make her feel better in a lasting way—an early step in her moral education.


It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.

Helen Burns, Chapter 6

Helen advises Jane that gaining control of her passions will benefit her both in the everyday world and in the spiritual world. This quotation relates to the themes of passion, religion, and self-control.


Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

Jane Eyre, Chapter 12

Discussing the restlessness she felt in the early days at Thornfield, Jane issues an impassioned protest of the sexist treatment of women. Such strong statements, which show how women chafe at the restrictions placed on them, explain why Jane Eyre is seen as a powerful example of early feminism.


Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you,—and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh;—it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal,—as we are!

Jane Eyre, Chapter 23

Jane tells Rochester why she must leave him, despite her feelings, now that she knows about his marriage. In doing so she asserts her worth as an individual, despite being a woman and not of the upper class, and she proclaims her moral code.


In the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight tell: it groveled, seemingly on all fours: it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair wild as a mane, hid its head and face.

Jane Eyre, Chapter 26

Jane describes Bertha Mason, whom she clearly sees for the first time, after her own wedding to Rochester has been halted.


Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt! May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agonized as in that hour left my lips; for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.

Jane Eyre, Chapter 27

Jane expresses her heartache at leaving Thornfield. She also addresses the reader directly here, a device Brontë uses in some points of the narrative to heighten the reader's identification with her protagonist.


If you are a Christian, you ought not to consider poverty a crime.

Jane Eyre, Chapter 29

Jane tries to convince Hannah, the Rivers' servant, that she should not judge people based on their wealth. Jane's unsteady social status and religious understanding has given her an appreciation of people's true virtues.


God directed me to a correct choice: I thank His providence for the guidance!

Jane Eyre, Chapter 31

Settled now at Morton and teaching in her little school, Jane reaffirms the wisdom of her decision to adhere to morals and law and leave Rochester, despite the heartache she feels.


To live amidst general regard, though it be but the regard of working people, is like 'sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet'; serene inward feelings bud and bloom under the ray.

Jane Eyre, Chapter 32

Jane reflects on how she feels about her life as a teacher in Morton. Her language reveals some class prejudice, even though she herself has experienced being reviled for her lack of status. The quotation within the quote is from the poem "Lalla Rookh" by Irish writer Thomas Moore.


'I am no better than the old lightning-struck chestnut-tree in Thornfield orchard,' he remarked ere long. 'And what right would that ruin have to bid a budding woodbine cover its decay with freshness?'

Edward Rochester, Chapter 37

Rochester is telling Jane that, because of his blindness and dependence, he cannot ask her to spend her youth and health tending to him.


Reader, I married him.

Jane Eyre, Chapter 38

This breathtakingly short transition not only tells readers of the key event they have been waiting for but also reminds readers that Jane has completed her journey toward being a strong, independent woman.


'My Master,' he says, 'has forewarned me. Daily he announces more distinctly,—"Surely I come quickly!" and hourly I more eagerly respond,—"Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus!"'

St. John Rivers, Chapter 38

Jane quotes one of St. John's letters in the last lines of the book. St. John is revealing his acceptance of impending death. By giving him the last words, Brontë gives added weight to the message these words communicate. St. John's calm acceptance of death reminds the reader of Helen Burns's acceptance earlier in the book, and the double appearance of this point of view underscores its importance. By closing the book in this way, Brontë suggests that Jane, too, has come to this way of thinking. While she is happy in her life now, she understands that death will come into her life again and she will be prepared for it.

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