Abstract

Critics have long read Jane Eyre as an exemplary account of liberal individualism and self-expression. This essay instead argues that the novel, written in the 1840s and depicting the 1820s, employs the stagecoach as a Tory emblem of a Britain unified through the preservation of regional customs, against an increasingly dominant railway network. Radical though Jane Eyre's claims to speak and feel may be from the perspective of liberal narratives of progressive individualism, they are best understood in this Tory context of anti-metropolitan regionalism and preservationism. Jane's self-assertions are momentary staging posts in a journey that preserves customary regional community. The stagecoach knits the smallest, most remote places and persons into the nation while preserving their distinct identities. It is a resistant Tory mode of inscribing an alternative modernity in the era of progress.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2052
Print ISSN
0042-5222
Pages
pp. 615-638
Launched on MUSE
2011-11-25
Open Access
No
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