Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is a novel by Charlotte Brontë, published in 1847. It is a partly autobiographical work, written by a woman who had a difficult life by becoming orphan in her youth, and losing her two sisters very early. However, Charlotte has considered that the study to which she has given herself extricate herself. Jane Eyre is the biography of an orphan who is rejected by her family. For example, her aunt imprisons her for no reason in a room without light, and her cousin hits her (« Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his flesh: he spent some time in thrusting out his tongue Could without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strike »). Her tent dismissed her so much that she sended her to the boarding school of Lowood. This boarding school allows Jane to receive an education, even if life is very difficult there (the water is frozen for example in winter). Growing up, the heroine became a governess, then a teacher, before marrying an old man that she loves. The interest of this novel comes from the depth of its story, which concerns religion, forgiveness, and justice, like shows that passage:

We all must die one day, and the illness which is removing me is not painful; it is gentle and gradual: my mind is at rest. I leave no one to regret me much: I have only a father; and he is lately married, and will not miss me. By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings. I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well in the world: I should have been continually at fault.’ ‘But where are you going to, Helen? Can you see? Do you know?’ ‘I believe; I have faith: I am going to God.’”

BRONTE Charlotte, Jane Eyre, 1847, London, Smith, Elder & Co.


The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury tales were written in the 15th century by Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400). The author is a Londoner from a wealthy family who made a military expedition in France during which he became a prisoner. He then made diplomatic missions in France and Italy, which allowed him to take inspiration from the Decameron of Boccaccio, a nested narrative composed of the narration of several stories during a decade. The Canterbury tales also take this form because there is a narrative form that describes the travel of about thirty pilgrims going to the sanctuary of Canterbury, to venerate the saint Thomas Becker. This narrative form is extended by the fact that a Tavernier joins this troop of travelers and asks them each to tell a story to pass the time, and proposes to reward the best storyteller of a soup. Moreover, even if this work is inspired by Boccaccio, it is very original, for it initiates a reflection on the way of telling, because it indicates that a storyteller must not delay the « knot » of his Narrative, at the risk then of annoying the auditor:

« The knotte why is every tale is toold,

If it is taried til that lust be coold

Of hem that han it after herkned yoore,

The savor passeth ever lenger the moore,

For fulsomnesse of his prolixitee »

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales in The Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson, 3rd ed.

The originality of this text is also that it is based on several speakers (the knight, the miller etc…), and several subjects (mythology, chivalry, morals, morals of society). And, this work is also a criticism of the society, especially of the clergy, because Chaucer denounces the practice of indulgence, and of the knights (he laughs about the knights who fight each other when they see a woman: « O Cupid, out of alle charity! »). Finally, we can consider this book of seven hundred pages in verses like a monument of the English literature.