Reader, I married him.
– Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre, Chapter 38. The opening sentence of this final chapter is probably the most famous line in Jane Eyre, and one of the most famous lines in English literature. Jane tells us that she has wed Mr. Rochester. A climactic moment, it is also Jane’s most rebelliously defiant moment. She doesn’t say: Reader, he married me. Instead she asserts her gender equality with: Reader, I married him. It is a happy ending for the ultimate love story, a masterpiece of passion and heartbreak, fairytale and gothic horror, tumultuous romance, anger and final peace and contentment. But it is no conventional ending. Thornfield is reduced to ashes. Rochester’s wife has fallen to her death from the roof of the burning house. Rochester is blind and has lost a hand. But out of the ashes of tragedy and torment, the once homeless orphan Jane has found home, family and love with her flawed Byronic hero.