Jane Eyre Character Quotes

I began to recall what I had heard of dead men, troubled in their graves by the violation of their last wishes, revisiting the earth to punish the perjured and avenge the oppressed; and I thought Mr. Reed’s spirit, harassed by the wrongs of his sister’s child, might quit its abode – whether in the church vault or in the unknown world of the departed – and rise before me in this chamber. I wiped my tears and hushed my sobs, fearful lest any sign of violent grief might waken a preternatural voice to comfort me, or elicit from the gloom some haloed face, bending over me with strange pity. This idea, consolatory in theory, I felt would be terrible if realised: with all my might I endeavoured to stifle it – I endeavoured to be firm. Shaking my hair from my eyes, I lifted my head and tried to look boldly round the dark room: at this moment a light gleamed on the wall. Was it, I asked myself, a ray from the moon penetrating some aperture in the blind? No; moonlight was still, and this stirred; while I gazed, it glided up to the ceiling and quivered over my head. I can now conjecture readily that this streak of light was, in all likelihood, a gleam from a lantern, carried by some one across the lawn: but then, prepared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings; something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated; endurance broke down; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort. Steps came running along the outer passage; the key turned, Bessie and Abbot entered.

– Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, Chapter 2. Jane recalls the horrific Gothic experience she had on the night her Aunt Reed jailed her in the ominous red room as punishment for her altercation with her son John. Looking back she admits that it was likely a gleam of light from a lantern she saw. But as a 10-year-child child at the time she believed that she witnessed a supernatural vision of her dead Uncle Reed. She imagined him coming to avenge the wrongs of his wife Mrs. Reed for breaking her promise to him to care for Jane as one of her own children. Jane describes the terror that she felt resulting from her aunt’s abuse in imprisoning her in the room, as she screams out in panic, pounds the door and the servants come running.

I scarcely knew what school was; Bessie sometimes spoke of it as a place where young ladies sat in the stocks, wore backboards, and were expected to be exceedingly genteel and precise; John Reed hated his school, and abused his master: but John Reed’s tastes were no rule for mine, and if Bessie’s accounts of school-discipline (gathered from the young ladies of a family where she had lived before coming to Gateshead) were somewhat appalling, her details of certain accomplishments attained by these same ladies were, I thought, equally attractive. She boasted of beautiful paintings of landscapes and flowers by them executed; of songs they could sing and pieces they could play, of purses they could net, of French books they could translate; till my spirit was moved to emulation as I listened. Besides, school would be a complete change: it implied a long journey, an entire separation from Gateshead, an entrance into a new life.
“I should indeed like to go to school,” was the audible conclusion of my musings.

– Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, Chapter 3. When apothecary Mr. Lloyd asks Jane if she would like to go to school, she embraces it as an opportunity to escape from the tyranny of Gateshead and begin a new life. She knows little about school, but while John Reed hates it and abuses his teacher, Jane refuses to be ruled by his bad tastes. Instead she learns her understanding of girls’ education from servant Bessie. Bessie’s account of the accomplishments attained by young ladies in school – in painting, singing and studying French books – inspires Jane. Jane sees education as her gateway to freedom from the oppression of the Reeds.