31 Great Quotes from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is considered a classic of English literature and the masterwork of Charlotte Brontë. The selected quotes from Jane Eyre that follow speak to the author’s sensibilities and strong opinions about the lot of women in an unforgiving world.

Jane Eyre was published in October, 1847 under Charlotte’s pen name, Currer Bell. The novel was unusual for its time, exploring the inner world of the narrator. It touches on several themes — Jane’s desire for a sense of belonging after having grown up orphaned; romantic love (in her case for the inscrutable Mr. Rochester, her employer); and the quest for independence and personal identity.

Though Jane Eyre is considered a feminist work, it also fits into the genre of gothic novel because of the disturbing detail of Bertha, Rochester’s insane wife, being locked away in an attic. Learn more in this excellent late 19th-century plot summary of Jane Eyre and also in this insightful analysis of Jane Eyre, both by Mary A. Ward.

Though it was met with some controversy, Jane Eyre was also an instant success. It was Charlotte’s first published novel, though it was the second that she wrote — The Professor  was her first. The latter was published only in 1857, two years after the author’s death. Charlotte Brontë was also the author of Shirley and Villette, and though both novels were highly respected, neither achieved the kind of devotion gained by Jane Eyre.

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“I have little left in myself — I must have you. The world may laugh — may call me absurd, selfish — but it does not signify. My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.”

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“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

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“You — you strange — you almost unearthly thing! — I love as my own flesh. You — poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are — I entreat to accept me as a husband.”

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“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”

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“I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”

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Wedding scene in Jane Eyre 1943 film

See also Jane Eyre: The 1943 Film Based on the Novel
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“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.”

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“I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.”

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“Friends always forget those whom fortune forsakes.”

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“All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever.”

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“Oh! That gentleness! How far more potent is it than force!”

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë on Amazon

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“If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved of you and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”

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“Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I grasp at it for myself. We were born to strive and endure – you as well as I: do so. You will forget me before I forget you.”

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“I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.”

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“I ask you to pass through life at my side—to be my second self, and best earthly companion.”

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“I see at intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close set bars of a cage: a vivid, restless, resolute captive is there; were it but free, it would soar cloud-high.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

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Quote by Charlotte Brontë

See also: Teaching Jane Eyre: A Professor’s Perspective

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“I have for the first time found what I can truly love — I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel — I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”

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“Some of the best people that ever lived have been as destitute as I am; and if you are a Christian, you ought not to consider poverty a crime.”

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“Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine.”

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“I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had the courage to go forth into its expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils.”

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“There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.”

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“What necessity is there to dwell on the Past, when the Present is so much surer — the Future so much brighter?”

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Contemporary Jane Eyre cover

Jane Eyre and I: A Love Affair for Life

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“It is not violence that best overcomes hate — nor vengeance that most certainly heals injury.”

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“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 … If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”

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“Am I hideous, Jane?
Very, sir: you always were, you know.”

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“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”

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“Crying does not indicate that you are weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you are alive.”

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“It is always the way of events in this life … no sooner have you got settled in a pleasant resting place, than a voice calls out to you to rise and move on, for the hour of repose is expired.”

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A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel-walk, and trembled through the boughs of the chestnut: it wandered away–away–to an indefinite distance–it died. The nightingale’s song was then the only voice of the hour: in listening to it, I again wept. Mr. Rochester sat quiet, looking at me gently and seriously. Some time passed before he spoke; he at last said –
     “Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and understand one another.”
     “I will never again come to your side: I am torn away now, and cannot return.”
     “But, Jane, I summon you as my wife: it is you only I intend to marry.”
      I was silent: I thought he mocked me.
     “Come, Jane–come hither.”
     “Your bride stands between us.”
      He rose, and with a stride reached me.
      “My bride is here,” he said, again drawing me to him, “because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?”

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“Reader, I married him.”

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