Reader, it’s Jane Eyre – Crash Course Literature 207

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In which John Green teaches you about Charlotte Brontë’s classic coming of age novel, Jane Eyre. Look, we don’t like to make judgement values here, but Jane Eyre is awesome. By which we mean the book is great, and the character is amazing. When Jane Eyre was published in 1847, it was a huge hit. It really hit the controversial balance beautifully, being edgy enough to make news, but still mainstream enough to be widely popular. It was sort of like the Fight Club of it’s day, but not quite as testosterone-fueled. You’ll learn a little about the story, learn about Jane as a feminist heroine, and even get some critical analysis on how Bertha might just be a dark mirror that acts out Jane’s emotional reactions.

Also, there’s a new Crash Course US History poster! Have a look at it here:


Dxizzl E says:

PLEASE make a video on Wide Sargasso Sea as well!

Jamie Pollard says:

I wouldn’t call her insane. Just mad. Because i would be mad too if someone kidnapped me and then imprisoned me in the attic

Talya Chevalier says:

I love how you snuck in _Looking For Alaska_ in the list of well-known bildungsromane. Smooth, John. Very smooth.

Sogol Derafsheh says:

Wow! Super informative and interesting. Especially the part about Bertha being the personification of Jane’s suppressed feelings.

Michael Skinner says:

No woman should lose part of herself for marrisge

_ Monty559 says:

woah… nothing like this guy anywhere else on youtube! thanks so much!

bibliopxile says:

I’m doing Jane Eyre: The Musical at my high school and I have fallen in love with this astonishing tale! While the musical does have some adaptions, the central themes are the same: vision/being blinded by love and the world around you, forgiveness, the parallel between Jane and Bertha, the symbolism of the chestnut tree, lightning, and so much more. The storyline is so rich. I suggest that you all give this musical a listen or even better, go see a local production of it!

Lucy Hurst says:

Please can you do a video just like this but for the book Atonement by Ian Mcewan ?

Swarnika Gangrade says:

Meredith the Intern is an important part of the family.

Howard Wiggins says:

Feminists crush the joy out of everything, even Jane Eyre.

untilwhen username says:

I see what you did there Mr. Green, putting your own book in with the classics. Smart, very smart.

L Evans says:

Doing this book for my a levels and dreaded reading it at first. The first 8 chapters or so when she is a child put me off but poeple said it gets better. It really does. I absolutely love this book, now one of my favourites, dont let the start put you off!!

nosuchthing8 says:

How did Rochester disguise himself as a woman? Was it a clue that certain people could have aliases.

mailill says:

Bertha Mason is unbalanced and reactive and ill. I think if we see her as a dark mirror for Jane (and I really love that interpretation!!), she might represent all the storming unbalanced emotions and emotional wounds that Jane has, partly because of her loveless childhood in an extremely toxic family, as well as her hard, and in many ways deprived, years as an orphan at Lowood, and her suppressed position as a governess and dependent woman in a society that does not give women (especially not poor and plain women) the right to realize themselves or even to wish for it.

In my humble opinion, when Bertha dies it does not necessarily mean something bad. It might instead mean that Jane has now managed to realize and develop her mental and emotional faculties – as well as her willpower to say no to what she does not want and yes to what she wants no matter what conventional truth and authorities tell her – and thus to free (and perhaps even to heal, but that’s perhaps a bit too good to be realistic) her inner locked up self, which does then no longer have to rage in madness, hidden and from behind bars, to be heard.

Couldn’t one say that the madwoman dies, so that something new can be born (symbolized by Jane’s harmonic marriage – as opposed to Bertha’s disharmonic and stormy marriage – and the birth of her children) in Jane?
(In some ways Bertha might be seen as symbolizing a reactive, “false self”, that was generated because of the toxic circumstances in Jane’s childhood – Yet without the trouble caused by Bertha’s existence Jane would not be forced to go out in the world on her own and there finally gain her healthy independency, find her own “tribe” of people and the possibility of meeting Edward again on equal terms.)

And while I do agree that the description of the marriage is somewhat silly, oddly conventional, and anticlimactic, and definitely not the best part of the book, I still actually don’t think Jane gives up _everything_ to become just another Victorian housewife. She now has what she was deprived of in her childhood and has wanted ever since: her own home, loving family and friends and a passionate marriage. We might think she should want a career, but that’s explicitly not what she wants. She still reads and discusses literature with her husband and probably also with her cousins. She might still study for what we know, and travel, at least we know they go to London.

And more important: we know she writes her excellent masterpiece of an autobiography!

That’s not giving up everything. If that is not self realization, then what is?

Albert Marx says:

I see the Welcome To Night Vale shirt and am happy to be a subscriber of this great YouTube channel. I love me some night vale

Melissa Moore says:


anomie says:

did…. he just refer to a child as “sexually precocious”

Darling Stuff says:


Aditi Agarwal says:

please make one on Rebecca by Daphne du maurier too, Its really beautiful

csam says:

stp. comm.

Victor Sanchez says:

Or an ant with 18 pugs

zw0lfb4um says:

In defence of Branwell: He DID have potential, but was under a lot of pressure as the only son in the family, expected to follow in his father’s footsteps AND be a great artist. He was kind of spoiled and put under a lot of stress, and when you add that to a depressingly unsuccessful love affair with the wife of a local landowner, it’s no wonder he became an alcoholic. He did initially paint himself into the portrait of his siblings, but then removed himself because he didn’t feel worthy. Also, some of his poetry isn’t that bad tbh

IamMissRuby says:

Hey John. I see that you just so subtly inserted the title of your book(Looking for Alaska) in the list of Bildungsroman list.

Tiffi045 says:

Thank you so much for this. I’ve read Jane Eyre many times and I’ve never thought of done of the AMAZING ideas you presented!

jamesaellis says:

It needed the disco…

Lydia Heyes says:

I’d say the language is generally compatible with contemporary reading, however the structure of it isn’t. It’s not light reading, every sentence can matter so, if it feels slow, you can’t really just skip a bit like usual

Kate Hodges says:

OH MY GOD! is he wearing a “welcome to night vale” shirt

grace victoria says:

u guys r smart

Connor Shandick says:

Wuthering Heights Crash Course!!!

Tatum Derin says:

did he just… did he just…. shoot Harry Potter with a dictionary right on the glasses… with a game of thrones character….

Jon LeVitre says:

Where did you-from-the-past get a “Welcome to Nightvale” t-shirt?

Wesley Mitchell says:

Jane eyer ate Lord of flies

Garrett Cessna says:

I’m not trying to be snoody, but I think it’s pronounced Bronty, not bront-ay. Just saying.

too small for the mall says:

this is my mom’s favorite book of all time

Samantha Pfeiffer says:

Still furiously waiting hopefully for Pride and Prejudice lol, love every crash course series that comes out, even if I previously had no interest in the subject (like mythology)

Free Thoughts and Ideas says:

I honestly really don’t like this book.

Isabelle Clover says:

g*psy is a slur! please in the future don’t use that word

Abigail Amador says:

holy…that’s a lot to take in. I’ve read Jane Eyre five times now and its definitely one of my favorite books (the other being I’ll Give You The Sun) but I never thought or heard about the whole Bertha being a mirror for Jane stuff so wow. definitely some great food for thought

Mojos Bigstick says:

We studied this in year 7, it put me right off the Brontes.  It’s a great idea to introduce children to literature, but some books need to wait.

Madeleine MacKeith says:

Poll: would you sleep with John Green?

Chantal Renee Hayles says:

“did everyone have tuberculosis in 19th century england???” IM DEAD

Esmeralda Cullen says:

In which way is Adèle sexually precocious?

Christiaan Baron says:

it’s a christian book about innocence and its power of redemption. of the world corrupting good souls but these souls being redeemed by the wise and young having gained learning from the tragic and dying.
repressed desire? that’s right a woman isnt liberated unless she post selfies of her rectum on the internet.

Letty Lunasical says:

I read Jane Eyre when I was in my late teens and I *hated* Rochester. I remember being furious that she married him at the end, even though I knew it was coming, and to this day I don’t get what people see in him. Are you going to do Wide Sargasso Sea?

Oindrila Dey says:


Vic Petrov says:


Mainah Gruau says:

Fact : A critic said, as a praise, that Jane Eyre could not have been written by a woman.

Simon Vercoe says:

I feel like you could have done Tolkein the courtesy of actually naming his books when you reference them, but I am a fanboy so I guess don’t mind me

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