Structure

The novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is divided into 38 chapters. The novel was initially published in three volumes of roughly equal length, which was a standard form of publishing fiction in the nineteenth century. Volume one was comprised of the first 15 chapters and ended with Bertha’s attempt to set Rochester’s bed on fire. Volume two contained chapters 16 to 27 and ended right after Jane’s wedding day when she decides to quit Thornfield. Lastly, volume three was made up of the last ten chapters: 28 to 35. Most modern editions of Jane Eyre, however, no longer follow this division. 

The novel begins in medias res on a rainy winter day at Gateshead. The narrative unfolds chronologically, as Jane recounts a biography of her life from when she is ten years old, to her adulthood, ten years into her marriage with Rochester. The narrative focuses on the most significant periods of Jane’s life, such as her employment at Thornfield, and it skips large periods of time, such as the eight years Jane spends at Lowood as a student and teacher, which are deemed less important: 

Hitherto I have recorded in detail the events of my insignificant existence: to the first ten years of my life I have given almost as many chapters. But this is not to be a regular autobiography. I am only bound to invoke Memory where I know her responses will possess some degree of interest; therefore I now pass a space of eight years almost in silence (Chapter 10, 0%)

This is framed to be a deliberate decision on Jane’s part, as she writes her autobiography and wishes to only focus on the interesting parts of he...

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