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Introduction

So you’re going to teach Jane Eyre. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has its problematic spots and difficulties, teaching Jane Eyre to your class will be a worthwhile and rewarding enterprise for both you and your students. It will give them unique insight into valuable rhetorical, literary concepts, such as point-of-view and narration, along with character analysis and development. Students can also engage with worthwhile themes such as gender dynamics and social class dynamics. This guide highlights the text’s most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching. 

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Facts at a Glance

  • Published: 1847
  • Recommended Grade Level: 9 and up
  • Approximate Word Count: 198, 700 
  • Author: Charlotte Brontë 
  • Country of Origin: England 
  • Genre: Romance, Gothic, Bildungsroman 
  • Literary Period: Victorian 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Society, Person vs. Self 
  • Narration: First-Person 
  • Setting: Northern England, early 1800s 
  • Structure: Prose Novel 
  • Tone: Dramatic, Personal


Texts that Go Well with Jane Eyre

Bleak House by Charles Dickens. This famous Victorian novel is another great example of first-person narration from a speaker very similar to Jane. Its heroine, Esther Summerson, is also an orphan of low status and little means who finds domestic happiness in the end. Also like Jane, Esther is a woman who on the outside presents herself as an example of the Victorian “Angel in the House,” yet at subtle points in the narrative imparts an underlying nature of tenacious will. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Like Jane Eyre, this iconic 18th-century British novel takes up the subject of what an ideal marriage should be, and both novels contain side stock characters of the extremes of what “love” shouldn’t be. Having students make comparative character maps of both novels on a spectrum from extreme duty to extreme passion is an effective and comprehensive way to teach character analysis with respect to thematic development across multiple texts. Austen’s Sense and Sensibility also works well. 

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. A contemporary...

(The entire section is 540 words.)