Jane Eyre

Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
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Popular with kids
Strength of character triumphs in Bronte's masterpiece.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 27 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Young Jane is sad, hungry, and misunderstood during the first half of her career at Lowood School, but conditions improve and she dedicates herself to her studies. Her education becomes one of her greatest assets; it is her way out of Lowood, and twice enables her to support herself: first as Adele's governess in Thornfield Hall, and then as a school teacher in Morton.

Positive Messages

Jane Eyre is a 19th-century gothic romance of the highest order, but it's an unconventional one. The message here is that Jane is better off single than with the wrong partner, or a partner who asks her to betray her own conscience. In a cruel world full of chaos and madness, Jane Eyre listens to her mind at least as much as her heart. She always does what she knows is right, and she knows her own worth.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jane Eyre possesses such impressive strength of character -- a  powerful sense of her own self-worth and moral fiber, despite the abuse and neglect she suffers in her Aunt Reed's house and at Lowood School. Her opportunities are limited by her finances and by Victorian gender roles, but she is always guided by her own conscience and intelligence, and is one of the strongest female characters in English literature. During her formative years, Jane herself learns from the example set by two friends at Lowood, her classmate Helen Burns, a sickly child but the soul of Christian patience and goodness, and  School Superintendent Maria Temple, a firm but kind teacher whom Jane eventually emulates.


As a young child, Jane is pushed and struck by her young cousins, and locked in a dark room as punishment. As an adult at Thornfield Hall, she is asked to nurse Rochester's brother-in-law, Richard Mason, when he is savagely stabbed and bitten by a madwoman -- this is a bloody scene. Fire breaks out at Thornfield Hall twice. The second time, Rochester is wounded and a woman jumps from the roof to her death.


The characters kiss and describe romantic feelings. Rochester speaks of previous adulterous affairs.


Since the novel is set in Victorian England, there are no product names to drop, but the quality or type of the characters' dress is often viewed as indicative of their wealth and station.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine, beer, and gin are sometimes consumed -- mostly for medicinal purposes. Rochester also smokes the occasional cigar. After Jane leaves Rochester, she worries about what "opiate" state he may have entered.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPizza G. May 19, 2017

Excellent Gothic romance for mature readers

Jane Eyre is undoubtedly a classic, but a mature one at that. Though there isn't any noticeably questionable content, it certainly isn't written for c... Continue reading
Adult Written bySherlockian February 1, 2014

Changed my life!

I think this book can be read at younger ages, by advanced readers 9-10 years old, but I think on an emotional level it is better to read it later. I read it at... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byHunter.O January 20, 2017

Sure, it's a classic. But, I still didn't like it.

Jane is bullied as a child, at a boarding school half of the students die because of illness (including her best friend), she meets a man who she soon falls in... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byH___ November 20, 2016

Waste of time

I can't seem to realise why Jane Eyre is such an amazing book in this day and age. From the reviews I've read, Jane is praised for being an independen... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love historical fiction

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