Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë

Words from the achiever

“I reread Jane Eyre recently, by Charlotte Brontë.  I always suspected that she was the biggest influence on me.  It seems unlikely, but I always suspected that. I used to say that in interviews, and people would think I was just being smart and evasive.  But I reread Jane Eyre recently, and also Villette, her other great novel.  I just came across episode after episode where I thought “Oh my goodness, I just ripped that off from this book!”  Perhaps you wouldn’t recognize it, but I did.  Certain kinds of techniques, certain moments when you understand that the narrator is crying, not because she tells you, but because somebody watching her makes a remark.  All these little things that I thought, “Oh, I used that in that book,” or “Oh, that trick.”  I think Charlotte Brontë had an enormous influence on me, and I think it’s something to do with that use of first-person and the evasiveness, the indirectness, of her first-person narrative.  I mean this phrase, “the unreliable narrator,” has become very popular in creative writing.  So it’s not quite that, but a very subtle use of the relationship between the writer and the book and the reader — something I tuned in on, I homed in on instantly, when I started to read Charlotte Brontë.”

About the book

Charlotte Brontë’s impassioned novel is the love story of Jane Eyre, a plain yet spirited governess, and her employer, the arrogant, brooding Mr. Rochester. Published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell, the book heralded a new kind of heroine—one whose virtuous integrity, keen intellect, and tireless perseverance broke through class barriers to win equal stature with the man she loved. Hailed by William Makepeace Thackeray as “the masterwork of a great genius,” Jane Eyre is still regarded, over a century later, as one of the finest novels in English literature.