Literary Mixtape: Jane Eyre


If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: Charlotte Brontë’s most famous heroine, the indefatigable Jane Eyre.

One of the most well-loved women of literature, we first meet the eponymous Jane Eyre when she is a poor and plain girl, abused by what meager family she has, and we watch her transform into an impossibly strong, self-reliant woman. Passionate, determined, and intelligent, she possesses a strong sense of morality but values her freedom over all. When Mr. Rochester asks her to run away with him to be his mistress in France, she refuses — even though she loves him — based on her “impassioned self-respect and moral conviction.” She constantly bends the social norms in order to do what she thinks is right, and ultimately is able to forgive Rochester and build a happy life with him — while maintaining her freedom, of course. We think Jane would like relaxing, pretty music — she’s already got enough stress on her plate. Here’s what we think she would struggle, teach, and never compromise her values to.

Stream the mixtape here.

“Wrapped Up in Books” — Belle & Sebastian

Before we had ever read this novel, a friend described it to us as “a book where the nerd girl gets the guy in the end,” and we were sold. We think Jane, like all young women, would have a fondness for Belle & Sebastian, and this pretty song might be just the thing: “Our aspirations are wrapped up in books/ Our inclinations are hidden in looks…”

“Troubles Will Be Gone” — The Tallest Man on Earth

A girl like Jane has got to spend a lot of time convincing herself that her troubles will be gone someday, somewhere soon, and we think this song just might help her do that. Plus, it’s super gorgeous.

“Rolling in the Deep” — Adele

Adele is one of the most powerful women in music today, and it’s a sure bet that Jane would be listening to this track in her post-Rochester period. It’s like wiping a tear and throwing your shoulders back and carrying on, all wrapped up in one foot-stomping song.

“This Charming Man” — The Smiths

We imagine Jane like this song — excitement barely contained over a new crush, but contained nonetheless. Well, she’s a fair shade better than Morrissey at that.

“Silver Lining” — Rilo Kiley

This might be the kind of song Jane would play and imagine singing at Mr. Rochester after she finds out she’s been flirting with a married man: “And I’m not going back/ Into rags or in the hole/ And our bruises are coming/ But we will never fold/ And I was your silver lining/ As the story goes/ I was your silver lining/ But now I’m gold…”

“This Is Not Like Home” — Great Lake Swimmers

A song for when “you feel alone/ In a world that’s not your own.” It gets better, Jane.

“There Is a War” — Leonard Cohen

Well, there is. And as one of the first characters who serve as standard-bearers of feminist thought, Jane is constantly embroiled in it. We’re just saying.

“Not a Pretty Girl” — Ani DiFranco

For a girl who describes herself “poor, obscure, plain, and little,” but knows that she’s no damsel in distress, and doesn’t need to be rescued. After all, she wants to be — and is — more than a pretty girl. “Isn’t there a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere?”

“Helplessness Blues” — Fleet Foxes

For figuring out where you’re meant to be in life.

“No Air” — Jordin Sparks

All modern young ladies like this song. Yes, we’re saying that. Jane might play this song while missing Mr. Rochester, but knowing all along that she did the right thing. It’s a lovelorn song for strong women.