Criticisms of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre have been both good and bad. It has ranged from praises to defenses and even
to unrestrained passion. Three different literary criticism are posted.
The reviewer for the Atlas praised the novel:
This is not merely a work of great promise; it is one of absolute performance. It is one of the most powerful
domestic romances which have been published for many years. It has little or nothing of the old conventional stamp upon it
... but it is full of youthful vigour, of freshness and originality, of nervous diction and concentrated interest. The incidents
are sometimes melo-dramatic, and, it might be added, improbable; but these incidents, though striking, are subordinate to
the main purpose of the piece, which is a tale of passion, not of intensity which is most sublime. It is a book to make the
pulses gallop and the heart beat, and to fill the eyes with tears (1847).
reviewer for the Rambler expressed a criticism that was made against all the Bronte novels--coarseness. The reference
to "grosser and more animal passions" is a roundabout way of saying "sex."
Jane Eyre is, indeed, one of the coarsest books which we ever perused. It is not that the professed
sentiments of the writer are absolutely wrong or forbidding, or that the odd sort of religious notions which she puts forth
are much worse than is usual in popular tales. It is rather that there is a tendency to relapse into that class of ideas,
expressions, and circumstances, which is most connected with the grosser and more animal portion of our nature; and that the
detestable morality of the most prominent character in the story is accompanied with every sort of palliation short of unblushing
conservative Eliza Rigby, writing for the Quarterly Review, assumed a connection between unrestrained passion and political
Jane Eyre is throughout
the personification of the unregenerate and undisciplined spirit, the more dangerous to exhibit from that prestige of principle
and self-control which is liable to dazzle the eye too much for it to observe the inefficient and unsound foundation on which
it rests. It is true Jane does right, and exerts great moral strength, but it is the strength of a mere heathen mind which
is a law unto itself. No Christian grace is perceptible upon her.
Altogether the autobiography of Jane Eyre
is preeminently an anti-Christian composition. There is throughout it a murmuring against the comforts of the rich and against
the privations of the poor, which, as far as each individual is concerned, is a murmuring against God's appointment--there
is a proud and perpetual assertion of the rights of man, for which we find no authority either in God's word or in God's providence--there
is that pervading tone of ungodly discontent which is at once the most prominent and the most subtle evil which the law and
the pulpit, which all civilized society in fact, has at the present day to contend with. We do not hesitate to say that the
tone of mind and thought which has overthrown authority and violated every code human and divine abroad, and fostered Chartism
and rebellion at home is the same which has also written Jane Eyre (1847).