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Charlotte Brontë: The Imagination in History$
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Heather Glen

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199272556

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199272556.001.0001

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‘Dreadful to me’: Jane Eyre and History (1)

‘Dreadful to me’: Jane Eyre and History (1)

(p.65) 4 ‘Dreadful to me’: Jane Eyre and History (1)
Charlotte Brontë: The Imagination in History

Heather Glen

Oxford University Press

For Jane Eyre's fairy-tale shapings, its archetypal themes of the search for love and escape from danger, above all, perhaps, its representation of childhood suffering, do seem to point away from its specific historical moment, and towards areas of experience which all can readily understand. ‘Who that remembers early childhood, can read without emotion the little Jane Eyre's night journey to Lowood?’ asked Sydney Dobell, in an early review. ‘Passages read like a page out of one's own life’, G. H. Lewes declared. Generations of girls have thrilled, with similar empathy, to Jane's story of passionate love. The meanings its critics have traced in it may have changed with changing mores, but in its evocation of vulnerable childhood, its representation of desire, Charlotte Brontë'sJane Eyre has seemed to speak less of historical difference than of its readers' most intimate concerns.

Keywords:   Jane Eyre, childhood suffering, Sydney Dobell, G. H. Lewes, love, danger

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