Jane Eyre Quotes: Volume 1

Instructor: Sarah Griffin

Sarah teaches college English, and she holds a master's degree in English studies.

In this lesson, we will journey through Volume I of Charlotte Bronte's classic novel Jane Eyre by taking a close look at key quotes from this first portion of the book.

Jane Eyre Volume I: A Summary

The novel Jane Eyre is a coming-of-age story written by English author Charlotte Bronte and published in 1847. A coming-of-age story can also be referred to as a bildungsroman. The story follows the title character, Jane Eyre, from the age of 10 into adulthood, experiencing with her the trials and joys, the setbacks and victories of growing up.

To begin, Jane is an orphan left in the care of the Reed family. Unfortunately, the kind Mr. Reed died 9 years ago, and 10-year-old Jane has been forced to reside under the care of Mrs. Reed, who cannot stand Jane. Mrs. Reed's 14-year-old son loves to torment Jane, and he eventually provokes Jane to physically defend herself. In turn, Mrs. Reed resolves to ship Jane off to a strict boarding school called Lowood Institution.

In time and against the odds, Jane comes to thrive at Lowood. She endures many hardships

Illustration of Jane saying her prayers.

Jane's position at Thornfield is a considerable step-up in a society where it is difficult for a woman to provide for herself - difficult, in fact, for any person to raise themselves to a station or class above the one into which they were born. Jane adjusts to life in Thornfield. Mrs. Fairfax manages the household, and Adele, a young girl and Mr. Rochester's ward, becomes Jane's pupil. The master of the house, Mr. Rochester, is aloof, gruff, and mysterious. And the house itself is mysterious. Before any of these mysteries reveal their realities, however, Volume I ends with the hinting that Jane Eyre is falling in love with Mr. Rochester, and he with her, in his peculiar way.

Jane tells us her story in the first person. We will now take an in-depth look at 3 of Jane's quotes from Volume I that exemplify her character and show us her development as a person through this portion of the story.

Quote #1:

'Well might I dread, well might I dislike Mrs. Reed; for it was her nature to wound me cruelly: never was I happy in her presence: however carefully I obeyed, however strenuously I strove to please her, my efforts were still repulsed and repaid by such sentences as the above.'

Despite all of 10-year-old Jane's efforts to be a delightful child, Mrs. Reed still hates her. In fact, Mrs. Reed has just slandered Jane's character in front of Mr. Brocklehurst, the leader of Lowood Institution. Mrs. Reed, essentially, has done her best to make the next stage of Jane's life as miserable as possible by telling Mr. Brocklehurst that Jane is a misbehaved girl who is prone to lying. Instead of defending herself, Jane silently pushes back her tears. In this quote, we can see the constant cloud of defeat that has loomed over Jane's head since infancy. The reader feels right along with Jane the unfairness of the situation. Jane has tried and tried to make Mrs. Reed happy, but it just never worked. Though this quote speaks of young Jane's difficult plight in life, both in the past and now in the future, her fighter's spirit is also found in these words. There is a sense that while it is in Mrs. Reed's nature to be horrible to Jane, it is in Jane's nature to strive, to keep going. And that is exactly what she does throughout the entirety of the novel. In the face of every battle, Jane bravely rises to the occasion.

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