Jane Eyre is an orphan girl growing up in the house of her aunt where her presence is resented. Her cousins make her life miserable and, ultimately, her aunt sends her off to a charity school where Jane’s tribulations continue. After surviving the misery of the school as a student, Jane becomes a teacher there. As a teacher, Jane cannot cope with the oppressive conditions at the school and resigns after two years. Later, she becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall where she develops feelings for Mr. Rochester, her employer, who is morally not as upright as Jane.
By developing the story of Jane Eyre this way, Charlotte Brontë has given a female character the authority to judge the stature of individuals usually deemed superior by society. The publication of Jane Eyre was a revolutionary event in the world of belles lettres in nineteenth-century England. At that time, women occupied an inferior position in the society and the idea of a woman writing a novel was too scandalous an affair. Charlotte Brontë had to use a male pen name (Currer Bell) to publish this novel.
The novel is a timeless classic for its poignancy and radically honest portrayal of a woman’s struggle to live a dignified life.