Determined to make her
heroine "as poor and plain as myself," Charlotte Brontë made a daring
choice for her 1847 novel. Jane Eyre possesses neither the great beauty nor
entrancing charm that her fictional predecessors used to make their way in the
world. Instead, Jane relies upon her powers of diligence and perception,
conducting herself with dignity animated by passion.
The instant and lasting success of Jane Eyre proved Brontë's instincts correct. Readers of her era and ever after have taken the impoverished orphan girl into their hearts, following her from the custody of cruel relatives to a dangerously oppressive boarding school and onward through a troubled career as a governess. Jane's first assignment at Thorn field, where the proud and cynical master of the house harbors a scandalous secret, draws readers ever deeper into a compelling exploration of the mysteries of the human heart.