A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Charlotte Bronte's classic romantic novel does not contain "mature themes" in the modern sense, but it does require a mature reader to comprehend the characters' complex relationships and inner turmoil, and to take in the troubling events that occur: Children are abused and neglected; half of the students of Lowood School die of typhus, while the other half are malnourished and cold. Mental illness and adulterous affairs figure in the story, as well.
What's the story?
When the novel begins, Jane Eyre is a 9-year-old orphan who is dependent on a heartless, widowed aunt, Mrs. Reed. Resentful of her late husband's affection for Jane, Mrs. Reed neglects her niece, then sends her to a \"charity school,\" Lowood, where students are raised on strict rules and a poor diet, ostensibly in preparation for a harsh life. In spite of these obstacles, Jane succeeds as a student and then as a teacher, and after nine years, leaves Lowood to serve as governess to Adele, the young ward of Edward Rochester, master of mysterious Thornfield Hall. At 18, Jane gets engaged to the stern and aloof Rochester, and on their wedding day, Jane learns his secret, which leads to her becoming an independent woman.
Is it any good?
Charlotte Bronte's classic romantic novel is simply one of the greatest works of English fiction. Jane's independence, fortitude, and intelligence render her one of literature's strongest female characters, and the passionate love between Jane and Rochester is a romance for the ages. Bronte's development of that relationship, set against the mysteries within Thornfield Hall, is peerless.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the moral struggle that Jane faces when she learns Rochester's secret. Why does Jane feel she must leave Thornfield Hall?
Jane Eyre is as an unconventional heroine, a young woman ahead of her time. What makes Jane different from other female main characters in novels of Bronte's era -- from Jane Austen's women, for example? What makes Jane seem old-fashioned, and what makes her timeless?
For kids who love historical fiction
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.