As we begin to grapple with the implications of artificial intelligence and robots, this allusion more than 150 years ago to an automaton and machine without feelings is striking.

And, yet again, Jane cannot prevent herself confronting her interlocutor with the full force of her spirited, vulnerable, loving humanity.  See her earlier outburst on this heartfelt topic.

I chose three separate images to illustrate this one, and feature two of them here.  I couldn’t help noticing a similarity between the girl in the photo and the one in the painting.


‘Do you think I am an automaton? – a machine without feelings? … Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?  You think wrong!  – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart!’


Source: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (London: Bounty Books, 2012 (1847)), p. 329

Photo credit: Mimzy at, image below by Prawny at



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