Series uncovering the story behind the creation of six classic books. Journalist Bidisha revisits Charlotte Bronte's classic novel after first reading it as a teenager.
Journalist and novelist Bidisha was fascinated by Bronte's Jane Eyre as a teenager, but re-reading the story as an adult left her feeling uncomfortable. What Bronte had to say about sex and race was darker and more disturbing than she remembered.
For the young Bidisha, Jane Eyre's perilous, but ultimately liberating, passage into adulthood showed that a young woman could find happiness without compromising her principles. Jane got to have it all. Or did she?
Revisiting this classic Victorian novel 17 years on, Bidisha sees her erstwhile role model, and the society which spawned her, through very different eyes. Is Jane Eyre really the spirited, independent woman Bidisha admired as a young reader? Is the supposedly dashing Mr Rochester little more than a bully and an abuser? What does the characterisation of Bertha, the mad creole woman in Rochester's attic tell us about Bronte's colonial attitudes?
To better understand her sometime heroine and to search for clues, Bidisha travels to the Bronte's family home in Yorkshire and visits the British Library to examine Bronte's original manuscript and uncover intimate letters written by Charlotte Bronte to a married professor, believed by many to be the man who inspired the character of the abusive Rochester.
Bringing a fresh and critical eye to this classic work, Bidisha reassesses one of literature's most memorable heroines.