Jane Eyre is a wildly emotional romance, with a lonely heroine and a tormented Byronic hero, pathetic orphans, dark secrets, and a mad-woman in the attic.
When it was published in 1847 it was a great popular success.
The power of the writing, the masterly handling of narrative, and the boldly realistic style were much admired.
But when Currer Bell, the pseudonymous author, was revealed to be Charlotte Bronte, a young woman from a bleak Yorkshire parsonage, critics were disapproving.
Jane Eyre is full of erotic tension, passion, and irony.
These were not qualities encouraged in Victorian women writers, and Jane Eyre was an 'immoral production' to more than one contemporary.
For late-twentieth-century readers, however, the book is an astonishing paradigm of feminist writing.
At its heart is the assertion that a woman has the right to be independent, and its insistence on that fact and on the equality of the sexes makes it a truly revolutionary work of art.