Classic Rock and Jane Eyre?

What do classic rocker, Neil Young and Charlotte Bronte’s brooding character, Mr. Rochester, have in common? Young’s 1971 hit “Heart of Gold” could very well be this hero’s theme song.

This wood cut illustration of Jane as a child is found in the Fritz Eichenberg edition of Jane Eyre that I read as a 15-year-old.

Post Format: Quotations

Bronte wrote Jane Eyre in 1847.  This love story about a young governess and Mr. Rochester, her hardened, mysterious employer, took the world by storm.  It’s been made into numerous films and television shows and discussed in the highest of literary circlesThere isn’t much I can add to the conversation.  I can say that Jane was a revelation to me as an awkward 15-year-old reading the book for the first time.

She’s a plain-looking, abused orphan when the story opens.  But she grows up to help the very people who mistreated her, she endures loneliness and poverty upholding her beliefs, and she forsakes riches for family.  Oh yes, and she wins the unflinching, passionate love of Mr. Rochester, Master of Thornfield Hall.  It seemed an encouraging but unbelievable plot twist to me at the time.

Mr. Rochester, woodcut print by Fritz Eichenberg

However, in rereading this classic as an adult, I too treasured Jane.  Rochester, though wealthy and respected, has endured years of betrayal and heartache. He’s traveled the world looking for happiness.  When he meets the young Jane with her beautiful heart, he sees her as the rarest of creatures. (Indeed, the older I get the more I treasure such people.)  And so I leave you with a quote from Mr. Rochester and Mr. Young’s lyrics, words written more than 100 years apart but embodying the same spirit.

For ten long years I roved about, living first in one capital, then another…I sought my ideal of a woman amongst English ladies, French countesses, Italian signoras, and German grafinnen. I could not find her.

A verse from Neil Young’s 1971 hit, “Heart of Gold.

Young’s 1972 album, Heart of Gold, that features the song. This photo of Young is reminiscent of the brooding Mr. Rochester don’t you think?

I’ve been to Hollywood

I’ve been to Redwood

I crossed the ocean

for a heart of gold

I’ve been in my mind,

it’s such a fine line

That keeps me searching

for a heart of gold

And I’m getting old

BONUS BIT: Please enjoy this recording of Young’s song.

4 thoughts on “Classic Rock and Jane Eyre?

  • January 29, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    One of my favorite books and one of my favorite songs. I never made that connection before. Thanks!

    • January 29, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks Joan. I find myself listening more to the lyrics of songs now that I’m older.

  • January 30, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    That’s a great comparison! I love it when music and stories link up in my head like that — I definitely have songs that remind me of specific characters and so on. Thanks for sharing!

    • January 31, 2017 at 9:05 am

      You’re welcome. And thank you for hosting the Jane Eyre read-along that inspired me to revisit this wonderful story.


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