Charlotte Brontë

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Review of Jane Eyre

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Unsigned Review, Quarterly Review, pp. 153-85

The characters and events [of Jane Eyre], though some of them masterly in conception, are coined expressly for the purpose of bringing out great effects....it is a plan familiar enough to all readers of novels - especially those of the old school and those of the lowest school of our own day. For Jane Eyre is merely another Pamela, who, by the force of her character and the strength of her principles, is carried victoriously through great trials and temptations from the man she loves. Nor is she even a Pamela adapted and refined to modern notions; for though the story is conducted without those derelictions of decorum which we are to believe had their excuse in the manners of Richardson’s time, yet it is stamped with a coarseness of language and laxity of tone which certainly have no excuse in ours. It is a very remarkable book: we have no remembrance of another combining such genuine power with such horrid taste. Both together have equally assisted to gain the great popularity it has enjoyed; for in these days of extravagant adoration of all that bears the stamp of novelty and originality, sheer rudeness and vulgarity have come in for a most mistaken worship.

....Altogether the autobiography of Jane Eyre is pre-eminently an anti-Christian composition....there is that pervading tone of ungodly discontent....We do not hesitate to say that the tone of the mind and thought which has overthrown authority and violated every code human and divine abroad, and fostered Chartism and rebellion at home, is the very same which has also written Jane Eyre.

First published December 1848.