Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (with illustrations by Edmund Dulac).
|My own copy of Jane Eyre.|
|Charlotte Brontë by|
Evert A. Duyckinck, 1873.
|Jane Eyre manuscript: Chapter One.|
Still indomitable was the reply: "I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now. 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 rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot."For this and the many other parts like it, Jane Eyre is an essential read for anyone has suffered or felt ill-used in anyway, however petty others may judge it. Jane gives voice and so gives strength and hope. It's exciting to read too because of the electric in it I mentioned, and, quite simply, the plot is enough to make anyone want to read and never stop. Her passion is exciting and invigorating: she writes, for example, about women:
It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. 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, to 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.And the famous,
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.There are a hundred quotes at least I would share, but they should be read and re-read in context. I envy people who haven't read Jane Eyre because they have this pleasure to come, but I will return to Jane Eyre again and again and love it more each time because it is one of the finest, most timeless novels ever written. What more can I say?
I'll end by sharing some illustrations by Edmund Dulac, one of my favourite illustrators (I was so excited to find these!). They come from the 1905 edition published by J. M. Dent & co.