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Word Count: 700
h JANE EYRE h In creating the character of Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte did something that was very daring at the time She presented her readers with a heroine who was not beautiful In the first half of the 19th century readers took it for granted that the heroines of novels were supposed to be beautiful just as we assume that a high fashion model will be slender and glamorous But Jane Eyre is described as small and plain a rather mousy-looking young woman who will never be transformed into a femme fatale or a romantic beauty and has no interest in trying to become one According to Charlotte Brontes friend and biographer Mrs Gaskell even Charlottes own sister Emily had her doubts about this decision Whod want to read about the adventures of an ordinary- looking heroine What could possibly happen to such a character that would be interesting to anyone A few early readers of the novel did react in exactly the way Emily predicted One famous critic obviously had Jane Eyre in mind when he complained that the reader who purchased a novel only to find that its heroine was an ugly lady was the victim of a fraud For the most part however Charlotte Brontes gamble was successful She had guessed correctly that her readers whatever their own situation would find it easy to identify with a character who had doubts about her looks and her attractiveness to others Today we arent surprised by a novel whose heroine is not only an outsider but also a young woman who cant count on beauty to make life easier for her In fact the small plain heroine of Jane Eyre has been copied so often that she has almost become a cliche We have to keep reminding ourselves that Jane is the original of the character that we meet so often in romance novels Jane Eyres physical appearance
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