He made me love him without looking at me.

gothic dress

I had not intended to love him: the reader knows

Most true it is that “beauty is in the eye of the gazer.” My master’s colourless, olive face, square, massive brow, broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, grim mouth,—all energy, decision, will,—were not beautiful, according to rule; but they were more than beautiful to me: they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me,—that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him: the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.

by Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855)
from Jane Eyre
Chapter XVII
image – eriK Stabile

Jane Eyre published

On October 6th, this day in 1847, Charlotte Bronte’s sweeping gothic romance “Jane Eyre” was first published under the pen name Currer Bell. The three Bronte sisters who wrote all used pen names, partly to shield themselves from the public eye, and partially to try and remove the influence of gender from public opinion about their writing. Despite being thought to be “course,” “Jane Eyre” was an instant hit.

I first encountered “Jane Eyre” in about 6th or 7th grade, sandwiched in between the likes of “The Three Musketeers,” “Dracula,” “Les Miserables” and “The Secret Garden.” My tween years were prime time for romantic, tortured tales peopled with eccentric benefactors, hapless though interesting love interests, creepy overlords and penniless heroes who never gave up for long.

As a teenybopper I was all about escaping into the gothic novel. As an adult, I read these things and see generations of good, creative people who died before their time because of rotten health care – and still managed to churn out books that we continue to read and make into movies today.

Life is short. Read some art. Write some art. And go ahead and dream of Rochester.

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