Jane Eyre Questions Answers 10/15
1. Q. Discuss the major themes associated with Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre.[Jane Eyre Questions Answers 10/15]
There are various themes associated with Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre. Themes are pervasive ideas presented in a literary work. There are plenty of compelling themes in Jane Eyre, which is a masterpiece of Charlotte Bronte. It presents the dilemma of a family and shows class discrimination and cruelty in human nature. Some of the major themes in Jane Eyre have been discussed below.
The main quest in Jane Eyre is Jane’s search for family, for a sense of belonging and love. However, this search is constantly tempered by Jane’s need for independence. She begins the novel as an unloved orphan who is almost obsessed with finding love as a way to establish her own identity and achieve happiness. Although she does not receive any parental love from Mrs. Reed, Jane finds surrogate maternal figures throughout the rest of the novel. Bessie, Miss Temple, and even Mrs. Fairfax care for Jane and give her the love and guidance that she needs, and she returns the favor by caring for Adèle and the students at her school. Still, Jane does not feel as though she has found her true family until she falls in love with Mr. Rochester at Thornfield; he becomes more of a kindred spirit to her than any of her biological relatives could be. However, she is unable to accept Mr. Rochester’s first marriage proposal because she realizes that their marriage – one based on unequal social standing – would compromise her autonomy. Jane similarly denies St. John’s marriage proposal, as it would be one of duty, not of passion. Only when she gains financial and emotional autonomy, after having received her inheritance and the familial love of her cousins, can Jane accept Rochester’s offer. In fact, the blinded Rochester is more dependent on her (at least until he regains his sight). Within her marriage to Rochester, Jane finally feels completely liberated, bringing her dual quests for family and independence to a satisfying conclusion.
Jane receives three different models of Christianity throughout the novel, all of which she rejects either partly or completely before finding her own way. Mr. Brocklehurst’s Evangelicalism is full of hypocrisy: he spouts off on the benefits of privation and humility while he indulges in a life of luxury and emotionally abuses the students at Lowood. Also at Lowood, Helen Burns’s Christianity of absolute forgiveness and tolerance is too meek for Jane’s tastes; Helen constantly suffers her punishments silently and eventually dies. St. John, on the other hand, practices a Christianity of utter piousness, righteousness, and principle to the exclusion of any passion. Jane rejects his marriage proposal as much for his detached brand of spirituality as for its certain intrusion on her independence.
However, Jane frequently looks to God in her own way throughout the book, particularly after she learns of Mr. Rochester’s previous marriage and before St. John takes her in to Moor House. She also learns to adapt Helen’s doctrine of forgiveness without becoming complete passive and returns to Mr. Rochester when she feels that she is ready to accept him again. The culmination of the book is Jane’s mystical experience with Mr. Rochester that brings them together through a spirituality of profound love.
Jane Eyre is critical of Victorian England’s strict social hierarchy. Brontë’s exploration of the complicated social position of governesses is perhaps the novel’s most important treatment of this theme. Like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Jane is a figure of ambiguous class standing and, consequently, a source of extreme tension for the characters around her. Jane’s manners, sophistication, and education are those of an aristocrat, because Victorian governesses, who tutored children in etiquette as well as academics, were expected to possess the “culture” of the aristocracy. Yet, as paid employees, they were more or less treated as servants; thus, Jane remains penniless and powerless while at Thornfield. Jane’s understanding of the double standard crystallizes when she becomes aware of her feelings for Rochester; she is his intellectual, but not his social, equal. Even before the crisis surrounding Bertha Mason, Jane is hesitant to marry Rochester because she senses that she would feel indebted to him for “condescending” to marry her. Jane’s distress, which appears most strongly in Chapter 17, seems to be Brontë’s critique of Victorian class attitudes.
Jane herself speaks out against class prejudice at certain moments in the book. For example, in Chapter 23 she chastises Rochester: “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! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now to leave you.” However, it is also important to note that nowhere in Jane Eyre are society’s boundaries bent. Ultimately, Jane is only able to marry Rochester as his equal because she has almost magically come into her own inheritance from her uncle.
Mr. Rochester, her Alongside Brontë’s critique of Victorian class hierarchy is a subtler condemnation of the gender inequalities during the time period. The novel begins with Jane’s imprisonment in the “red-room” at Gateshead, and later in the book Bertha’s imprisonment in the attic at Thornfield is revealed. The connection implies that Jane’s imprisonment is symbolic of her lower social class, while Bertha’s containment is symbolic of Victorian marriage: all women, if they marry under unequal circumstances as Bertha did, will eventually be confined and oppressed by their husbands in some manner. Significantly , Jane is consciously aware of the problems associated with unequal marriages. Thus, even though she loves Mr. Rochester, she refuses to marry him until she has her own fortune and can enter Into the marriage contract as his equal. While it is difficult to separate Jane’s economic and gender obstacles, it is clear that her position as a woman also prevents her from venturing out into the world as many of the male characters do Uncle John, and St. John, for instance. Indeed, her desire for worldly experience makes her last name ironic, as “Eyre” derives from an Old French word meaning “to travel.” If Jane were a man, Brontë suggests, she would not be forced to submit to so much economic hardship; she could actively attempt to make her fortune. As it is, however , Jane must work as a governess, the only legitimate position open for a woman of her estation, and simply wait for her uncle to leave her his fortune.
Fire and Ice
The motifs of fire and ice permeate the novel from start to finish. Fire is presented as positive, creative, and loving, while ice is seen as destructive, negative, and hateful . Brontë highlights this dichotomy by associating these distinct elements with particular characters: the cruel or detached characters, such as Mrs. Reed and St. John, are associated with ice, while the warmer characters, such as Jane, Miss Temple, and Mr. Rochester, are linked with fire. Interestingly, fire serves as a positive force even when it is destructive, as when Jane burns Helen’s humiliating “Slattern” crown, and when Bertha sets fire to Mr. Rochester’s bed curtains and then to Thornfield Manor. The first of Bertha’s fires brings Jane and Mr. Rochester into a more intimate relationship, while the second destroys Thornfield and leads to Bertha’s death, thus liberating Rochester from his shackled past. Although the fire also blinds Rochester, this incident helps Jane see that he is now dependent on her and erases any misgivings she may have about inequality in their marriage. Although Brontë does not suggest that the characters associated with ice are wholly malignant or unsympathetic, she emphasizes the importance of fiery love as the key to personal happiness.
Love Versus Autonomy
Jane Eyre is very much the story of a quest to be loved. for romantic love, but also for a sense of being valued, of belonging. Thus Jane says to Helen Burns: “to gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a , or to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it dash its hoof at my chest” (Chapter 8). Yet, over the course of the book, Jane must learn how to gain love without sacrificing and harming herself in the process.
Her fear of losing her autonomy motivates her refusal of Rochester’s marriage proposal. Jane believes that “marrying” Rochester while he remains legally tied to Bertha would mean rendering herself a mistress and sacrificing her own integrity for the sake of emotional gratification. On the other hand, her life at Moor House tests her in the opposite manner. There, she enjoys economic independence and engages in worthwhile and useful work, teaching the poor; yet she lacks emotional sustenance. Although St. John proposes marriage, offering her a partnership built around a common purpose, Jane knows their marriage would remain loveless.
Nonetheless, the events of Jane’s stay at Moor House are necessary tests of Jane’s autonomy. Only after proving her self-sufficiency to herself can she marry Rochester and not be asymmetrically dependent upon him as her “master.” The marriage can be one between equals. As Jane says: “I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. . . . To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We are precisely suited in character-perfect concord is the result” (Chapter 38).
Brontë uses many elements of the Gothic literary tradition to create a sense of suspense and drama in the novel. First of all, she employs Gothic techniques in order to set the stage for the narrative. The majority of the events in the novel take place within a gloomy mansion (Thornfield Manor) with secret chambers and a mysterious demonic laugh belonging to the Madwoman in the Attic. Brontë also evokes a sense of the supernatural, incorporating the terrifying ghost of Mr. Reed in the red-room and creating a sort of telepathic connection between Jane and Mr. Rochester. More importantly, however, Brontë uses the Gothic stereotype of the Byronic hero to formulate the primary conflict of the text. Brooding and tortured, while simultaneously passionate and charismatic, Mr. Rochester is the focal point of the passionate romance in the novel and ultimately directs Jane’s behavior beginning at her time at Thornfield. At the same time, his dark past and unhappy marriage to Bertha Mason set the stage for the dramatic conclusion of the novel.
External beauty versus internal beauty
Throughout the novel, Brontë plays with the dichotomy between external beauty and internal beauty. Both Bertha Mason and Blanche Ingram are described as stunningly beautiful, but, in each case, the external beauty obscures an internal ugliness. Bertha’s beauty and sensuality blinded Mr. Rochester to her hereditary madness, and it was only after their marriage that he gradually recognized her true nature. Blanche’s beauty hides her haughtiness and pride, as well as her desire to marry Mr. Rochester only for his money. Yet, in Blanche’s case, Mr. Rochester seems to have learned not to judge by appearances, and he eventually rejects her, despite her beauty. Only Jane, who lacks the external beauty of typical Victorian heroines, has the inner beauty that appeals to Mr. Rochester. Her intelligence, wit, and calm morality express a far greater personal beauty than that of any other character in the novel, and Brontë clearly intends to highlight the importance of personal development and growth rather than superficial appearances Once Mr. Rochester loses his hand and eyesight, they are also on equal footing in terms of appearance: both must look beyond superficial qualities in order to love each other.
2. Q. Elaborately comment on the significance of the title of ‘Jane Eyre’.
The full title of Charlotte Brontë’s novel is Jane Eyre, An Autobiography. When first published, it was edited by Currer Bell , which as we know now was one of Charlotte Brontë’s pen names. This title made it seem as though the book was written by someone named Jane Eyre about her own life, and yet it isn’t-not really, anyway Although there are many autobiographical details of Charlotte Brontë’s life woven into Jane Eyre, ultimately it is a work of fiction. At the time, it was practically unheard of for a woman to write a book, so the fact that it appeared to be a true story as told to a man would have made it more acceptable. Jane Eyre is thought to be one of the first, if not the first, books which looks at the mind of a woman, and in it she examines the way women are viewed. For example, she says:
Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagñation, precisely as men would suffer, and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, playing on the piano and embroidering bags.
Jane Eyre as a title is both simple yet very significant. It is significant because the book really is about Jane finding out who she is – becoming Jane Eyre, you could say. During the beginning of her life, she was lost . She had no family who loved her, and the family she did have (Mrs. Reed and her three children) despised her. She developed into a quiet, humble child who was scarred from the demons of her past. She never really believed that she could or should be anything other than subservient and unassuming.
This is reinforced during the time she spends in Lowood School, into a conforming academy where everybody is like everyone else, from the way they dress to the way the speak. There is no individuality. Jane again learns to be quiet, simple.
But the adventure she has at Thornfield (Mr. Rochester’s house) totally transforms her. She finds people like Mrs. Fairfax and Adele, who immediately treat her nicely and with respect, who want to be her friend; and people like Mr. Rochester, who understands her better than anyone and who loves what he sees. Jane feels more comfortable with environment, more herself.
when she removes herself from Thornfield after hearing of Mr. Rochester’s wife, she becomes independent. She struggles with the loss of Mr. Rochester, but ultimately learns how self-reliant she can be; Jane Eyre, though she loves him, is not defined by Edward Rochester. She finds she is her own person, with thoughts and firm beliefs that are unyielding (which is why she refuses her half-cousin’s marriage proposal because she didn’t love him.) Receiving her uncle’s inheritance furthers this feeling of self-worth. is finally his equal.
Once she returns to Edward, at the end of the story, she knows who she is, what she believes in, and is not ashamed of it. She is not ashamed to speak her mind and be something other than humble and submissive. Jane marries Mr. Rochester in the end not as the quiet, harassed person from her childhood – but as the new, greatly improved, strong Jane Eyre that she was always meant to be.
3. Q. Comment on the structure and setting of Bronte’s novel.
Q. Analyze the importance of the five major places Jane lives on her journey: Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Moor House/ Marsh End, and Ferndean. What do their names signify? What lessons does Jane learn at each place? Jane provides detailed descriptions of the natural world around each place: What do these descriptions reveal about their character?
Structurally, Jane Eyre most closely resembles a bildungsroman. The word “bildungsroman” literally means “novel of education” in German, and accordingly, this genre follows the education and maturation of its sensitive and philosophical protagonist. Jane Eyre follows Jane as she literally grows up, and also as she emotionally grows into herself and takes ownership of her ideas and philosophies. From the very beginning, Jane Eyre establishes that Jane’s life is profoundly shaped by her struggle against those with more power. Throughout most of the novel, Jane wrestles with her commitment to her own integrity and desire to satisfy her passions. By novel’s end, Jane finally finds freedom by coming to terms with all the conflicting elements of her life. As is typical of the bildungsroman genre, it is this acceptance that reveals Jane’s maturity.
There are many ways of summarising this novel because it is so long and contains many subplots, all involving the main protagonist, Jane Eyre. However, at its heart is the notion that it is an edited ‘autobiography’ – the story of Jane’s life. This is fascinating, because an autobiography is, by its very nature, ‘non-fictional and truthful, a chronological personal account of a life; but clearly this is a fictional narrative. This element of autobiography enables Brontë to step aside from some of the problems that novelists encounter, e.g. that of generating a story in which all the events ‘interconnect. For all its Gothic flights of fancy, there is a realism about Jane Eyre – particularly in its descriptions of the squalid conditions at Lowood school, which link it with the socially campaigning novels of Mrs Gaskell. However, many of the settings and events are basically ‘Gothic’ in conception: lonely, desolate mansions; terrifying dreams; ghostly laughs in the night; troubled, charismatic, Byronic men; mad women in attics; and improbable coincidences. What makes the novel so enticing the fact that there is realism in its psychology: Brontë creates a set of believable emotional responses in Jane Eyre that hook the reader from the first page. This is because the overwhelming emphasis of the book is its ‘autobiographical’ impulse: Brontë’s repeated insistence on describing, in depth, Jane Eyre’s feelings and thoughts.
So Brontë shapes her narrative around Jane’s ongoing struggle to find love and justice in the world. Sometimes these two themes are quite distinct. At the beginning of the book there is no real sense that the young Jane is in desperate need of parental love (although this is hinted at); it is more that she is furious with the injustice of her treatment at the hands of the horrid, spoilt child John Reed and his mother, the despicable Mrs Reed. However, the two themes come together when the adult Jane learns of Rochester’s bigamy: she has to weigh up her need for just treatment against her craving for Rochester’s love. Her desire for justice wins out and she leaves Rochester, Similarly , the themes converge again when St John Rivers proposes to her: he suggests that they live married life as missionaries and bring justice to poor parts of the world, but he offers no real love. This time Jane’s need for love triumphs and she rejects him.
At its core, Jane Eyre follows Jane’s quest for home and belonging. The divided into five distinct sections: her early childhood at Gateshead, her education at Lowood, her time at Thornfield, her retreat to Moorhead, and her return to Rochester at Ferndean. Up to the end of the novel , Jane attempts to find a home in each of these places, but ultimately becomes uprooted either by societal forces or by her refusal to compromise her sense of self. We see this conflict begin in Jane’s fight with John Reed and her subsequent punishment of being shut up in the red-room. This event establishes the way in which Jane’s orphaned status renders her dependent on those with more power, regardless of whether they allow her love or dignity. She cannot find a home at Gateshead because of the Reeds’ coldness. The red-room incident also introduces Jane’s temper and stubborness as both potential obstacles to her happiness and inner strength that allows her to stay true to herself in the face of adversity. Her pride also does not allow Jane to pretend to be grateful, good-natured child who could fit into life at Gateshead.
When Mrs. Reed send Jane to Lowood, her poisonous opinion of Jane threatens to follow her there through Brocklehurst’s uncompassionate doctrine. Fortunately, Jane meets Ms. Temple and Helen, who teach Jane Christian values that temper her anger. Ms. Temple allows Jane to exonerate herself by holding her to truth, which allows Jane to see the possibility of justice and fairness under a true Christian doctrine. These factors, and the removal of Brocklehurst, allow Lowood to feel like home for a time. However, when Miss Temple leaves Lowood, Jane realizes that she cannot rely on one person for home. As she lacks financial independence, Jane must take on the role of a governess, dependent on a wealthy household for stability. Jane’s time at Thornfield puts her back in touch with the intense passion of her youth, this time in the form of romantic love. Jane’s moments with Rochester, even after they admit their love, are full of portentous signs, from Bertha’s antics to the destruction of the chestnut tree. These frightening undertones create a sense of unease surrounding their relationship. Nevertheless, Jane believes Rochester to be her home because he values both her morality and her passion.
After Richard Mason stops the wedding, Jane uproots herself because she fears giving into the temptation of becoming Rochester’s mistress. At this point, Rochester holds power over her both financially and emotionally, and Jane must leave to regain emotional ownership of herself. Her rescue by the Rivers siblings allows Jane space to reassess herself. Her inheritance grants her the financial independence to purchase Moorhead and create a home with the Rivers. St. John disrupts Jane’s happiness with his proposal, in which he insists Jane forgo her passionate nature entirely and give herself over to a loveless marriage in the name of Christianity. The tension culminates in Jane’s vision of Rochester and the ultimate rejection of St. John’s proposal. Jane decides that she cannot live without Rochester, who also brings out her passion. When she finds Rochester at his retreat at Ferndean, the reader sees that Rochester has attempted to take responsibility for his marriage to Bertha by trying to save her from the fire. Blinded, Rochester must now depend on Jane, meaning she is no longer subservient. Jane’s marriage to him thus represents Jane choosing a home with both love and morality, in which she alone holds ownership of herself.
4. Jane Eyre : A Study on the Victorian Society
Q. What role does Jane’s ambiguous social position play in determining the conflict of her story? What larger points, if any, does the novel make about social class? Does the book criticize or reinforce existing Victorian social prejudices? Consider the treatment of Jane as a governess, but also of the other servants in the book, along with Jane’s attitude toward her impoverished students at Morton.
Q. What does Jane Eyre have to say about social class? Does the book criticize or reinforce existing Victorian social prejudices?
Q. Discuss two scenes that show the ambiguity of Jane’s social class. What are Jane’s opinions of the upper classes and the lower classes? What does the novel say about the social class system in England? Does Brontë critique the system or support it?
Victorian society was notoriously hierarchical and rigid, a fact that is amply explored in Jane Eyre. However, our titular heroine does not advocate for the dissolution of England’s rigid class system. Rather, Jane Eyre views the class system as a useful means of determining character. Those at the top and bottom—the very rich and the thoroughly impoverished—can be dismissed safely. It is those who float around the system, defying classification, who merit attention and praise in the novels.
Jane despises nearly every well-off, well-bred character in the novel and treats nearly every character mired in poverty with condescension at best and scorn at worst. The well-to-do Reed children torment, bully, and demean Jane. Mr. Brocklehurst lavishes money on his wife’s and daughters’ beauty regimens, but starves the pupils at his school and forces them to cut off their beautiful hair. Blanche Ingram and her mother make cruel, half-witted remarks and parade around in their expensive finery like peacocks. And yet Jane is only slightly less hard on the poorest, lowliest people she meets. If they escape the scorn she heaps on the rich, they earn only grudging condescension. Hannah is a dense, superstitious woman who is willing to let Jane die in the cold. Jane’s students work hard, but they only achieve as much as poor and low-class girls can—that is, not very much of anything. Bessie is praised for her kindness to Jane, but even she is depicted as a dull, slightly pathetic creature.
In contrast, the unclassifiable characters win Jane’s admiration and affection. Those who have either money or good breeding-but not both-are characterized as those most worth knowing. Helen is poor but full of natural elegance; she is depicted as an angel on earth, a model of piety, virtue, and empathy. Miss Temple is a middle-class woman with the carriage of an aristocrat; she is shown to be a fair and kind authority figure. Adèle is a sweet child whose mother was a promiscuous entertainer; she is depicted as a loving, if shallow, girl. Diana, Mary, and St. John are classy but impoverished; they are portrayed as generous, loving, educated, and lively. Mr. Rochester is land-rich but sexily low-rent and debauched; he is characterized as a gruff but good-hearted and ultra-masculine philosopher.
Of course, Jane Eyre herself is a prime example of the unclassifiable person. Perhaps more than any other character , she is suspended in limbó between high and Her mother came from high society, but her father was an impoverished clergyman. She is a penniless orphan, but she is brought up in a rich, high class household. She is a governess, but she works for a member of the landed gentry and attends social gatherings with elegant aristocrats. She is a working woman, but one of uncommon intelligence and artistic accomplishments. Jane doesn’t hide her defects: She portrays herself as moody, judgmental, and quick-tempered. But she is the heroine of this story, and doesn’t hesitate to ask for the appreciation a heroine deserves. Her classless state is what enables her to be a keen observer, a proto-feminist, a paragon of moral virtue, a loyalist beliefs, and a fearless adventurer.
When reading Jane Eyre, we must always bear in mind that it is a novel first person, by a fascinating, passionate, intelligent, and flawed woman. Brontë’s views on class may not be exactly the same as Jane Eyre’s; in fact, she may want us to view Jane’s prejudices with the same kind of skepticism with which Jane observes the very rich and very poor. Jane’s views are not meant to be the last word on class, but rather a provocative viewpoint that inspires us to examine our own opinions on society.
5. Q. Can Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre be regarded as a subversive discuss in your own words.
Is Jane Eyre a subversive novel? One contemporary critic, Mrs Oliphant, was quick to argue that it was. In May of 1855, eight years after the book was published, she wrote in Blackwood’s Magazine: ‘What would happen if social and sexual inferiors asserted that they were the equals of their superiors? …here is your true revolution. Mrs Oliphant, along with numerous feminist critics, was convinced that Jane Eyre’s demand to be treated as Mr Rochester’s equal, despite her lowly social circumstances and her gender, made the novel truly radical novel? Briefly Discuss.
During the Victorian age, women were considered inferior to men: they entitled to vote or study at university and there were few occupations open to them. Once they were married, all their wealth became their husband’s and they had no rights over their children or property. Within this context, Jane’s comment, ‘but women feel as men feel… they suffer from too rigid a restraint, is a very radical one: most people considered that women did not have the sensibilities of men. Likewise, Rochester’s insistence that Jane was his equal was definitely shocking for contemporary readers: very few ‘respectable’ husbands of the time ever seriously entertained the notion that their wives were as intelligent as they were. seem to
But there are aspects to the novel which are deeply conservative and endorse an inequality between the sexes and classes. Most troubling is the depiction of Bertha Mason. Rochester informs Jane that it is Bertha’s sexual appetites, together with a madness which runs in her family, that has destroyed her sanity. And yet Rochester himself has confessed to a promiscuous past. Whereas Jane’s marriage to Rochester indicates that he is forgiven for his past sins, Bertha’s imprisonment shows that she is hers.
The psychoanalytic feminist critics S.M. Gilbert and S. Gubar are of the opinion Bertha represents the truly subversive element in the novel.
The Madwoman in the Attic (London, 1979) they argue that Bertha breaks all the conventions to which women were expected to conform: she is strong, violent and promiscuous, and from a totally different culture compared to everyone else in the book. The ultimate conservatism of the book is underlined by the way in which Bertha’s spirit and culture are either crushed or ignored.
Other critics, such as Hermione Lee, have countered this theory, suggesting that Jane is constantly rebelling against the male-dominated culture of the time and carving her own ‘feminist path. Her initial outcry against John Reed’s bullying, her rebuke to Mr Brocklehurst, her abandonment of Rochester, and her rejection of St John Rivers are all indications that she won’t be bullied, cajoled or persuaded into accepting a status quo with which she is not content.
But, as Felicia Gordon points out in her excellent book A Preface to the Brontës (Longman 1989), for all her rebellious spirit, Jane does yearn for a benevolent man to take her under his wing. At the beginning of the novel Jane wishes that her uncle, Mr Reed, were alive so that she wouldn’t be subjected to the tyranny of Aunt Reed’s rule. At the end, once Rochester is relieved of his mad wife and the question of breaking one of the Lord’s commandments has been dismissed, Jane finally does submit to the authority of her husband.
Charlotte Brontë herself was a deeply conservative, God fearing woman who, despite arguing that women should enjoy more rights, did not want to question the fundamental tenets of the patriarchal society in which she lived. However, her genius as a writer forced her to subvert many of the literary conventions of the time: no romantic novels of the period contain such a strong, wilful heroine as Jane, while no Gothic novels depict a character as disturbing as Bertha Mason or a protagonist as complex as Rochester. Even today, very few romantic novels would have the heroine rescuing the hero even once, let alone twice.
The brilliance and complexity of Jane Eyre are derived from its being simultaneously a very subversive novel and a deeply conservative one, a novel which radically questions the patriarchal status quo of society and yet ultimately argues for a benevolent male authority.
6. Q. Discuss the contrast between images of ice and fire in the novel. What moral attributes are associated with fire and with ice? How is this image pattern used to reveal personality? For example, which characters are associated with fire and which with ice? Does Jane achieve balance between fire and ice?
Q. What symbols and motifs have been used by Bronte in Jane Eyre? Discuss.
Fire and Ice
Fire and spirits by ice appear throughout Jane Eyre. The former represents Jane’s passions, anger, and spirit, while the latter symbolizes the oppressive forces trying to extinguish Jane’s vitality. Fire is also a metaphor for Jane, as the narrative repeatedly associates her with images of fire, brightness, and warmth. In Chapter 4, she likens her mind to “a ridge of lighted heath, alive, glancing, devouring.” We can recognize Jane’s kindred their similar links to fire; thus we read of Rochester’s “Aaming and 26). After he has been blinded, his face is compared to “a lamp quenched, waiting to be relit” (Chapter 37).
Images of ice and cold, often appearing in association with barren landscapes or seascapes, symbolize emotional desolation, loneliness, or even death. The “death-white realms” of the arctic that Bewick describes in his History of British Birds parallel Jane’s physical and spiritual isolation at Gateshead (Chapter 1). Lowood’s freezing temperatures for example, the frozen pitchers of water that greet the girls each morning-mirror Jane’s sense of psychological exile. After the interrupted wedding to Rochester, Jane describes her state of mind: “A Christmas frost had come at mid-summer: a white December storm had whirled over June; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushed the blowing roses; on hay-field and corn-field lay a frozen shroud … and the woods, which twelve hours since waved leafy and fragrant as groves between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild, and white as pine-forests in wintry Norway. My hopes were all dead.. (Chapter 26). Finally, at Moor House, St. John’s frigidity and stiffness are established through comparisons with ice and cold rock. Jane writes: “By degrees, he acquired a certain influence over me that took away my liberty of mind. … I fell under a freezing spell” (Chapter 34). When St. John proposes marriage to Jane, she concludes that “[a]s his curate, his comrade, all would be right … But as his wife-at his side always, and always restrained, and always checked-forced to keep the fire of my nature continually low, to compel it to burn inwardly and never utter a cry, though the imprisoned flame consumed vital after vital—this would be unendurable” (Chapter 34).
Ice or cold serves as a symbolic counterpoint to fire’s passion and vibrancy. Early Jane’s life, when she is isolated and alone, she faces the coldness of the red-room and of Lowood, where Mr. Brocklehurst-a man without passion-forces the students to live in a place where they awaken to find pitchers with water that has turned to ice. St. John’s coldness contrasts with Rochester’s—and Jane’s—fiery passion. While that passion can be destructive, so can its absence. St. John is described as being “cold as an iceberg,” and his kiss makes Jane think of “marble kisses or ice kisses.” With him Jane “felt daily more and more that I must disown half my nature, stifle half my faculties.” His ice is stifling the fire of her passionate nature.
Poet and critic Adrienne Rich has noted that Jane encounters a series of nurturing and strong women on whom she can model herself, or to whom she can look for comfort and guidance: these women serve as mother-figures to the orphaned Jane. The first such figure that Jane encounters is the servant Bessie, who soothes Jane after her trauma in the red-room and teaches her to find comfort in stories and songs. At Lowood, Jane meets Miss Temple, who has no power in the world at large, but possesses great spiritual strength and charm. Not only does she shelter Jane from pain, she also encourages her intellectual development. Of Miss Temple, Jane writes: “she had stood by me in the stead of mother, governess, and latterly, companion” (Chapter 10). Jane also finds a comforting model in Helen Burns, whose lessons in stamina teach Jane worth and the power of faith.
Jane sees the moon which appears as “a white human form” shining in the sky, “inclining a glorious brow earthward.” She tells us: “It spoke to my spirit: immeasurably distant was the tone, yet so near, it whispered in my heart—”My daughter, flee temptation.” Jane answers, “Mother, I will” (Chapter 27). Waking from the dream, Jane leaves Thornfield.
Jane finds two additional mother-figures in the characters of Diana and Mary Rivers, Rich points out that the sisters bear the names of the pagan and Christian versions of “the Great Goddess”: Diana, the Virgin huntress, and Mary, the Virgin Mother. Unmarried and independent, the Rivers sisters love learning and reciting poetry and live as intellectual equals with their brother St. John.
Bertha is the opposite of the maturing Jane-completely dependent, confined, angry, unreasonable, and violent. She is Jane’s double, the figure that mirrors Jane in negative ways. Indeed, in her dependence, the limits placed on her, and her anger, she is like the young Jane. If she is of mixed race, that provides yet another contrast to Jane, who is thoroughly British. Bertha Mason is a complex presence in Jane Eyre. She impedes Jane’s happiness, but she also catalyses the growth of Jane’s self-understanding. The mystery surrounding Bertha establishes suspense and terror to the plot and the atmosphere. Further, Bertha serves as a remnant and reminder of Rochester’s youthful libertinism.
Yet Bertha can also be interpreted as a symbol. Some critics have read her as a statement about the way Britain feared and psychologically “ocked away” the other cultures it encountered at the height of its imperialism. Others have seen her as a symbolic representation of the “trapped” Victorian wife, who is expected never to travel or work outside the house and becomes ever more frenzied as she finds no outlet for her frustration and anxiety. Within the story, then, Bertha’s insanity could serve as a warning to Jane of what complete surrender to Rochester could bring about. One could also see Bertha as a manifestation of Jane’s subconscious feelings-specifically, of her rage against oppressive social and gender norms. Jane declares her love for Rochester, but she also secretly fears marriage to him and feels the need to rage against the imprisonment it could become for her. Jane never manifests this fear or anger, but Bertha does. Thus Bertha tears up the bridal veil, and it is Bertha’s existence that indeed stops the wedding from going forth. And, when Thornfield comes to represent a state of servitude and submission for Jane, Bertha burns it to the ground. Throughout the novel, Jane describes her inner spirit as fiery, her inner landscape as a “ridge of lighted heath” (Chapter 4). Bertha seems to be the outward manifestation of Jane’s interior fire. Bertha expresses the feelings that Jane must keep in check.
Red-room can be viewed as a symbol of what Jane must overcome in her struggles to find freedom, happiness, and a sense of belonging. In the red-room, Jane’s position of exile and imprisonment first becomes clear. Although Jane is eventually freed from the room, she continues to be socially ostracized, financially trapped, and excluded from love; her sense of independence and her freedom of self-expression are constantly threatened.
The The red-room’s importance as a symbol continues throughout the novel. It reappears as a memory whenever Jane makes a connection between her current situation and that first feeling of being ridiculed. Thus she recalls the room when she is humiliated at Lowood. She also thinks of the room on the night that she decides to leave Thornfield after Rochester has tried to convince her to become an undignified mistress. Her destitute condition upon her departure from Thornfield also threatens emotional and intellectual imprisonment, as does St. John’s marriage proposal. Only after Jane has asserted herself, gained financial independence, and found a spiritual family—which turns out to be her real family-can she wed Rochester and find freedom in and through marriage.
The eyes are the windows to the soul in Jane Eyre. Jane is especially attracted to Mr. Rochester’s black and brilliant eyes, which symbolize his temper and power. After Mr. Rochester loses his eyesight in the fire, Jane becomes his eyes: metaphorically, Jane now holds the position of mastery. Bertha has bloodshot eyes that match her violent nature. The novel also emphasizes the mind’s eye-an active imagination.
In Jane Eyre, food symbolizes generosity, nourishment, and bounty, and hunger symbolizes cruelty and a lack of nourishment. Brontë uses food and hunger to reveal how people treat each other—who is charitable, and who isn’t. For instance, the lack of food at Lowood reveals the school’s cruelty and religious hypocrisy. Ms. Temple, on the other hand, provides food and is compassionate and generous. Food has religious significance in the novel as well-physical hunger represents a deeper spiritual craving.
Through dreams and drawings, Jane visualizes her deepest feelings. Jane’s portfolio contains pictures that symbolize her life. Portraits can also stand in for people’s characters. Jane compares her portraits of herself and Blanche Ingram, which mirror the differences in the two women’s personalities and social class. Jane’s portrait of Rosamond Oliver is the closest that St. John ever gets to happiness on earth. In each case, the visual picture takes on a new reality. Brontë, making her own picture of society in Jane Eyre, likewise wanted to give her novel real relevance.
Moonlight often signals a change about to take place in Jane’s life. by the light of a half-moon just before leaving Gateshead. Moonlight carries her to Helen Burns’s room on the night she dies. Jane, out for a walk, watches the moon shining on a village just before she meets Rochester. The moon shines the night Rochester proposes to her and again the night before their interrupted wedding. The night St. John pressures her to marry him, moonlight fills the room just before she hears Rochester’s voice. While the moon does not always bode well for Jane, when it appears, her life is about to change.
7. Q. Compare and contrast some of the characters who serve throughout Jane Eyre. Blanche to Jane, St. John to Rochester, and, perhaps, Bertha to Jane. Also think about the points of comparison between the Reed and Rivers families. How do these contrasts aid the development of the book’s themes?
Q. Compare and contrast Rochester and St. John Rivers.
Q. How does Bronte present Jane as proactive in the novel as a whole?
The development of Jane Eyre’s character is central to the novel. From the beginning, Jane possesses a sense of her self-worth and dignity, a commitment to justice and principle, a trust in God, and a passionate disposition. Her integrity is continually tested over the course of the novel, and Jane must learn to balance the frequently conflicting aspects of herself so as to find contentment. An orphan since early childhood, Jane feels exiled and ostracized at the beginning of the novel, and the cruel treatment she receives from her Aunt Reed and her cousins only exacerbates her feelings of alienation. Afraid that she will never find a true sense of home or community, Jane feels the need to belong somewhere, to find “kin,” or at least “kindred spirits.” This desire tempers her equally intense need for autonomy and freedom. In her search for freedom, Jane also struggles with the question of what type of freedom she wants. While Rochester initially offers Jane a chance to liberate her passions, Jane comes to realize that such freedom could also mean enslavement-by living as Rochester’s mistress, she would be sacrificing her dignity and integrity for the sake of her feelings. St. John Rivers offers Jane another kind of freedom: the freedom to act unreservedly on her principles. He opens to Jane the possibility of exercising her talents fully by working and living with him in India. Jane eventually realizes, though, that this freedom would also constitute a form of imprisonment, because she would be forced to keep her true feelings and her true passions always in check.
Charlotte Brontë may have created the character of Jane Eyre as a means of coming to terms with elements of her own life. Much evidence suggests that Brontë, too, struggled to find a balance between love and freedom and to find others who understood her. At many points in the book, Jane voices the author’s then-radical opinions on religion, social class, and gender. The novel charts the growth of Jane Eyre, the firstperson narrator, from her unhappy childhood with her nasty relatives, the Reeds, to her blissful marriage to Rochester at Ferndean. Reading, education, and creativity are all essential components of Jane’s growth, factors that help her achieve her final success. From the novel’s opening chapters to its close, Jane reads a variety of texts: Pamela, Gulliver’s Travels, and Marmion. Stories provide Jane with an escape from her unhappy domestic situation, feeding her imagination and offering her a vast world beyond the troubles of her real life: By opening her inner ear, she hears “a tale my imagination created . . . quickened with all incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in my actual existence.” Similarly, she believes education will allow her the freedom to improve her position in society by teaching her to act like a “ady,” but her success at school, in particular her drawing ability, also increases her self-confidence. Jane confesses that artistic creation offers her one of the “keenest pleasures” of her life, and Rochester is impressed with Jane’s drawings because of their depth and meaning, not typical of a schoolgirl . Although artistic and educational pursuits are essential elements of Jane’s personality, she also feels a need to assert her identity through rebellion. In the opening chapters of the novel, Jane refers to herself as a “rebel slave,” and throughout the story she opposes the forces that prevent her from finding happiness: Mrs. Reed’s unfair accusations, Rochester’s attempt to make her his mistress, and St. John’s desire to transform her into a missionary wife. By +falling in love with Rochester , she implicitly mutinies against the dictates of class boundaries that relegate her, as a governess, to a lower status than her “master.” Besides rejecting traditional views of class, she also denigrates society’s attempts to restrict women’s activities. Women, she argues, need active pursuits and intellectual stimulation, just as men do. Most of Jane’s rebellions target the inequities of society, but much of her personality is fairly conventional . In fact, she often seems to provide a model of proper English womanhood: frank, sincere, and lacking in personal vanity. Jane’s personality balances social awareness with spiritual power, Throughout the novel, Jane is referred to as an imp, a fairy , a relative of the “men in green.” As fairy, Jane identifies herself as a special, magical creature. Connecting herself with the mythical beings in Bessie’s stories, Jane is affiliated with the realms of imagination, with the fantastic. Jane’s psychic abilities aren’t merely imaginary: her dreams and visions have a real impact on her life. For example, supernatural experiences, heralds of visions “from another world,” foreshadow drastic changes in Jane’s life, such as her move from Gateshead to Lowood, or her rediscovery of Rochester after their time apart. Thus, Jane’s spirituality isn’t a purely Christian one in fact, she rejects many of the Christian characters in the novel, such as St. John Rivers, Eliza Reed, and Mr. Brocklehurst a mixture of Christian and pagan ideas. Like nature, Jane’s God is filled with bounty, compassion, and forgiveness qualities lacking in many of the spiritual leaders she criticizes in the novel.
While Jane’s life has been fairly sedate, long, quiet years at Lowood, Rochester’s has been wild and dissipated. An example of the Byronic hero, Rochester is a passionate man, often guided by his senses rather than by his rational mind. For example, when he first met Bertha Mason, he found her dazzling, splendid, and lavish all qualities that excited his senses and resulted in their catastrophic marriage. Similarly, he let himself be ruled by his “grande passion” for Céline Varens, despite its immorality. Rochester is not afraid to flout social conventions. This is also apparent in his relationship wit Jane: Rather than maintaining proper class boundaries, Rochester makes her feel “as if he were my rather than my master.”
His “wealth” of power for communicating happiness seems magical to Jane, as are his abilities to read people’s unspoken thoughts from their eyes with incomprehensible acumen. As gypsy fortune teller, he weaves a magical web around Jane with words and looks directly into her heart so that she feels as “unseen spirit” is watching and recording all of her feelings. He also peers i:ito Blanche’s heart, recognizing her for a fortune hunter. Finally, his telepathic cry to Jane when she’s at Moor House shows his psychic ability. Like Jane, he taps into the marical powers of the universe in professing his love. When he meets Jane, Rochester to change his lifestyle. Giving up his wild, dissipated life on the continent, he’s is planning ,searching for freshness and freedom. Rochester’s goal is self-transformation, a reformation to be enacted through his relationships with women. Longing for innocence and purity, he wants Jane to be the good angel in his life, creating new harmony. Despite these desires for a new life, Rochester is still caught in a web of lies and immorality: He attempts bigamy and then tries to convince Jane to be his mistress. He also tries to objectify Jane by clothing her in expensive satins and laces, leaving her feeling like a performing ape.” Although Rochester had critiqued Blanche Ingram and Céline Varens for their materialism and superficiality, here he seems to be mimicking them. Rochester’s passions and materialism need to be disciplined before he can be the proper husband for Jane. Perhaps not insignificantly, he is blinded and loses a hand when Bertha sets fire to Thornfield; symbolically, his excessive passion has finally exploded, leaving him disabled. Rochester has passed “through the valley of the shadow of death” to become the perfect mate. Having finally paid for his sins, he is now a suitably docile husband for Jane, who morally guides and corrects him at novel’s end.
Despite his stern manner and not particularly handsome appearance, Edward Rochester wins Jane’s heart, because she feels they are kindred spirits, and because he is the first person in the novel to offer Jane lasting love and a real home. Although Rochester is Jane’s social and economic superior, and although men were widely considered to be naturally superior to women in the Victorian period, Jane is Rochester’s intellectual equal. Moreover, after their marriage is interrupted by the disclosure that Rochester is already married to Bertha Mason, Jane is proven to be Rochester’s moral superior. Rochester regrets his former libertinism and lustfulness; nevertheless, he has proven himself to be weaker in many ways than Jane. Jane feels that living with Rochester as his mistress would mean the loss of her dignity. Ultimately, she would become degraded and dependent upon Rochester for love, while unprotected by any true marriage bond. Jane will only enter into marriage with Rochester after she has gained a fortune and a family, and after she has been on the verge of abandoning passion altogether. She waits until she is not unduly influenced by her own poverty, loneliness, psychological vulnerability, or passion. Additionally, because Rochester has been blinded by the fire and has lost his manor house at the end of the novel, he has become weaker while Jane has grown in strength-Jane claims that they are equals, but the marriage dynamic has actually tipped in her favor.
John Rivers is a foil to Edward Rochester. Whereas Rochester is passionate, St. John is austere and ambitious. Jane often describes Rochester’s eyes as flashing and flaming, whereas she constantly associates St. John with rock, ice, and snow. Marriage with Rochester represents the abandonment of principle for the consummation of passion, but marriage to St. John would mean sacrificing passion for principle. When he invites her to come to India with him as a missionary, St. John offers Jane the chance to make a more meaningful contribution to society than she would as a housewife. At the same time, life with St. John would mean life without true love, in which Jane’s need for spiritual solace would be filled only by retreat into the recesses of her own soul. Independence would be accompanied by loneliness, and joining St. John would require Jane to neglect her own legitimate needs for love and emotional support.
While Rochester is a prototype of the fiery, passionate man, St. John Rivers is his opposite: cold, hard-hearted, and repressed. His handsome appearance indicates moral and intellectual superiority – he has “a straight, classic nose; quite an Athenian mouth and chin” and contrasts with Rochester’s more rugged features. Although St. John initially appears perfect, Jane soon detects a restlessness or hardness under his seemingly placid features; he is “no longer flesh, but marble” and his heart seems made of “stone or metal.” His reserve and brooding suggest a troubled nature, and his zealous Christianity offers him neither serenity nor solace. St. John’s feelings about Christianity are revealed in his sermons, which have a “strictly restrained zeal” that shows his bitterness and hardness. While Rochester vents his passions, St. John represses his. The iciness of St. John’s character is most pronounced in his relationship with Rosamond Oliver. Although he “flushes” and “kindles” at the sight of her, St. John would rather turn himself into “an automaton” than succumb to Rosamond’s beauty or fortune. His ambition cuts St. John off from all deep human emotions. For Jane, this coldness is more terrible than Rochester’s raging; she asks if readers know the “terror those cold people can put into the ice of their questions”? Not content with his humble local ministry, St. John would like to have been a politician, a poet, or anything that could have offered him glory, fame, and power. His solution is to become a missionary, a position that will require all of these skills. The weakness of his supposed Christianity is his lack of compassion for or interest in the people he is supposedly helping. For him, missionary work isn’t about joy, but a form of “warfare” against the prejudices of the natives, just as he “wars” against Jane’s rejection of his marriage proposal. Instead of asking her to help him in a mission of love in India, St. John “enlists” Jane to join his band of Christian mercenaries. He wants a wife he can “influence efficiently” and “retain absolutely,” rather than someone he loves. Marriage to St. John would traumatically erase Jane’s identity and douse her passions for life. St. John achieves his goal and conducts a “warrior-march trample” through India, ultimately dying young following ten hard years of missionary work.
Helen Burns, Jane’s friend at Lowood School, serves as a foil to Mr. well as to Jane. While Mr. Brocklehurst embodies an evangelical form of religion that seeks to strip others of their excessive pride or of their ability to take pleasure in worldly things, Helen represents a mode of Christianity that stresses tolerance and acceptance. Brocklehurst uses religion to gain power and to control others; Helen ascetically trusts her own faith and turns the other cheek to Lowood’s harsh policies. Although Helen manifests a certain strength and intellectual maturity, her efforts involve self-negation rather than self-assertion, and Helen’s submissive and ascetic nature highlights Jane’s more headstrong character. Like Jane, Helen is an orphan who longs for a home, but Helen believes that she will find this home in Heaven rather than Northern England. And while Helen is not oblivious to the injustices the girls suffer at Lowood, she believes that justice will be ſound in God’s ultimate judgment—God will reward the good and punish the evil. Jane, on the other hand, is unable to have such blind faith. Her quest for love and happiness in this world. Nevertheless, she counts on God for support and guidance in her search.
8. Q. Comment critically but illustratively on the narrative technique of the novel.
Q. What type of narrative techniques are found in the novel Jane Eyre? Discuss.
Published to widespread success in 1847 under the androgynous pseudonym of “Currer Bell,” the novel “Jane Eyre” catapulted 31-year-old Charlotte Brontë into the upper echelon of Victorian writers. With the novel’s success, Brontë was able to reveal her true identity to her publisher, and it soon became widely known that the author of the popular novel was a woman. This revelation allowed “Jane Eyre” to achieve an additional level of interest in contemporary society by forcing the public to redefine sexist notions of female authorship. Although the text presumably relates events from the first decade of the 19th century, contemporary Victorians, particularly women, identified with Brontë’s critique of Victorian class and gender mores. In particular, Brontë’s commentary on the difficult position of a governess during the time period was one with which many woman could relate and empathize.
Written as a first-person narrative, the novel follows the plain but intelligent Jane Eyre in her development as an individual from her traumatic childhood. Brontë describes five specific stages of Jane’s growth over the course of the novel: first, her childhood among oppressive relatives; second, her time as a student at Lowood School; third, her months as a governess at Thornfield Manor; fourth, her time with her cousins at Marsh’s End; and finally, her return to Thornfield Manor and marriage to Mr. Rochester. As a classic example of the Germanic Bildungsroman, or novel of formation, the text demonstrates Jane’s attempts to define her identity against forces of opposition in each of these five stages.
Bronte also employs many elements of the Gothic novel, another classic literary tool from the period, in order to provide a more tragic bent to Jane’s struggles. Mr. Rochester’s characterization as a stereotypical Byronic hero, the ominously gothic nature of Thornfield Manor, Jane’s unrequited love for Mr. Rochester, and the concept of the Madwoman in the Attic-each of these aspects of the novel relate directly to understandings of the Gothic tradition.
Many aspects of the novel are modeled on Brontë’s own life. She wrote of the novel, “I will show you a heroine as plain and as small as myself,” and, indeed, the characterization of the protagonist as unattractive was largely unheard of in Victorian literature. Like Jane, Bronte was forced to rely on her intellect in order to achieve economic independence and worked a governess with several different families. She attended the harsh evangelical Cowan Bridge School, on which she modeled Lowood. Moreover, the death of Helen Burns at Lowood is a clear reference to the deaths of Brontë’s two sisters during their time at the Cowan Bridge School. John Reed’s descent into gambling and alcoholism also parallels the behavior of Brontë’s beloved brother, Patrick Branwell, who took to opium and alcohol and died the year after “Jane Eyre” was published.
With the death of her mother and two older sisters during her childhood, Brontë was forced to cope with a strict and severe father and grew up on the desolate moors of Yorkshire (which appear in all their bleakness in Emily Brontë’s novel “Wuthering Heights”). The deaths of her three midst of her literary successes, and Brontë was forced to live in a loveless marriage for the few years before her death. Although “Jane Eyre” ends happily-Jane marries Mr. Rochester-there is still a pervasive sense of darkness and depression in the text as a reflection of Brontë’s personal state of mind.
“Jane Eyre” has become a staple of British literature; characterization of the honest Jane Eyre, tortured Mr. Rochester, and tragically insane Bertha Mason continue to spur the imagination of readers even today. The novel has inspired several films, as well as numerous literary sequels and prequels (the most famous of which is Jean Rhys’ “Wide Sargasso Sea,” which describes Mr. Rochester’s courtship and marriage to Bertha Mason).
Jane Eyre’s style is descriptive and formal . Charlotte Brontë’s sentences are long, often with colons, semicolons, and elaborate word choice. For example, Jane narrates her first meeting with Mr. Rochester: “The incident had occurred and was gone for me: it was an incident of no moment, no romance, no interest in a sense; yet it marked with change one single hour of a monotonous life.” While some of the formal verbiage and lengthy syntax are characteristic of Victorian literature, this style specifically characterizes Jane as an educated and philosophical person. The meandering quality makes Jane appear thoughtful, as she tries to include every detail in her descriptions. Brontë also makes frequent biblical allusions, such as when Jane describes her marriage to Rochester as her becoming “ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.” This is a direct reference to the description of Eve’s relation to Adam in Genesis. These biblical references add a layer of morality and ethics to the novel, emphasizing the moral duty Jane feels to abandon Rochester upon learning of his marriage to Bertha Mason. serving as the Jane Eyre is written in the first-person point narrator of the novel. Jane narrates from ten years later than the novel’s end, meaning that she can both relate to her previous selves and comment upon them in hindsight. In parts of Jane Eyre, she describes events as she experienced them and occasionally slips into present tense. For example, directly after her escape from Thornfield, Jane describes: “The coach is a mile off by this time; I am alone.” The sudden switch to present tense creates a jarring impression, which reflects Jane’s agonized mental state. The reader can also interpret this switch as Jane reliving traumatic events, emphasizing their lasting impact; she still remembers what she felt like after leaving Rochester. In other chapters, Jane makes use of the distance she has from the events to address the reader, drawing attention to the fact that time has passed, and Jane narrates with the benefit of hindsight. Throughout, Jane has strong opinions that color the reader’s opinions of events and other characters. For example, when she describes Blanche Ingram, Jane emphasizes the haughty pride in Blanche’s expression, encouraging the reader’s dislike. Blanche’s eventual behavior justifies Jane’s judgment, alerting the reader astute point of view. tone and a of view, with Jane to The tone of Jane Eyre shifts between a confessional, brooding, mysterious tone that permeates the events of the story. Jane often addresses the reader directly. She speculates as to why others behave the way they do, often pausing to philosophize, and explains herself and her actions. These asides suggest Jane may be self-conscious that her audience could judge her. The reader can also interpret these direct addresses from a feminist perspective. Although Brontë published Jane Eyre under a male pseudonym, her insistence on giving Jane an opinionated voice – in contrast to the Victorian ideal of the docíle woman demonstrates the intelligence and value of women’s voices. The more Gothic, brooding elements (like supernatural events) appear in moments of heightened emotion, such as during Jane’s punishment in the redroom, her first encounter with Rochester , and Bertha’s nighttime wanderings. These frightening and dramatic moments add excitement and emphasize Jane’s internal turmoil. Throughout the novel, Jane cannot be assured of her place in the world because of her lack of wealth and family connections, and the unsettling tone of these sections externalizes Jane’s insecurity.
9. Q. Discuss Jane as a narrator and as a character. What sort of voice does she have? How does she represent her own actions? Does she seem to be a trustworthy storyteller, or does Brontë require us to read between the lines of her narrative? In light of the fact that people who treat Jane cruelly (John Reed, Mrs. Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst) all seem to come to unhappy endings, what role does Jane play as the novel’s moral center?
Q. Is Jane Eyre a guide for mad women in the attic or for the angels inside the house? Comment thoughtfully.
In “Jane Eyre,” the character of Bertha Mason serves as an ominous representation of uncontrollable passion and madness. Her dark sensuality and violent nature contrast sharply with Jane’s calm morality, and it is no surprise that Bertha’s presence at Thornfield is a key factor in transforming Mr. Rochester into a stereotypical Byronic hero. Moreover, Bertha’s marriage to Mr. Rochester serves as the primary conflict of the novel, and it is only after her death that Jane is able to achieve personal happiness by marrying Mr. Rochester. However, Bertha’s position as the “Madwoman in the Attic” also speaks to larger social questions of femininity and authorship.
In 1979, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar made a breakthrough in feminist criticism with their work “The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the NineteenthCentury Literary Imagination.” In the 700-page text, Gilbert and Gubar use the figure of Bertha Mason as the so-called “Madwoman in the Attic” to make an argument about perceptions toward female literary characters during the time period. According to Gilbert and Gubar, all female characters in male-authored books can be categorized as either the “angel” or the “monster.”
The “angel” character was pure, dispassionate, and submissive; in other words, the ideal female figure in male-dominated society. Interestingly, the term “angel” stems directly from Coventry Patmore’s 1854 poem “The Angel in the House,” in which he described his meek and pious wife. In sharp contrast to the “angel” figure, the “monster” female character was sensual, passionate, rebellious, and decidedly uncontrollable: all qualities that caused a great deal of anxiety among men during the However Victorian period. , Charlotte Brontë (as well as many other contemporary female authors) did not limit her characterizations to this strict dichotomy between monster and angel. Jane Eyre possesses many of the qualities of the so-called angel: she is pure, moral, and controlled in her behavior. Yet, at the same time, she is extremely passionate, independent, and courageous. She refuses to submit to a position of inferiority to the men in her life, even when faced with a choice between love and autonomy, and over social expectations. Moreover, Jane’s childhood adventures demonstrate much of the same rebelliousness and anger that characterize the “monster.” It is clear that Jane’s appearance of control is only something that she leamed during her time at Lowood School; she still maintains the same fiery spirit that defined her character as a child.
With the character of Bertha Mason, Brontë has a more to blending the distinctions between angel and monster. The readers only meet Bertha when she is in the depths of madness, having been confined in the third-story attic of Thomfield for nearly fifteen years, and there is not enough interaction between her and the other characters to demonstrate any “angelic” behavior. Yet, Bertha’s position as the obstacle to Jane’s happiness with Mr. Rochester, as well as her state of complete imprisonment, suggest that her madness may have been partially manufactured by the male-dominated society that forced her to give up her wealth in marriage to Mr. Rochester. Moreover, the similarities between Bertha’s behavior in the third-story attic and Jane’s actions as a child in the red-room suggest that neither character is full angel or full rather a combination of the two.
Mr. Rochester and Bertha both have too much passion in their lives, while St John Rivers has too little. Bertha’s passion manifests as madness, while Mr. Rochester’s passion is displayed in his debaucherous behavior on the continent and his determination to make Jane his mistress. St. John, on the other hand, suppresses all of his passion and love for Rosamond Oliver, and thus becomes a cold and aloof man whose only desire is to fulfill his duty to God. Of the three characters, Mr. Rochester is the only one who eventually achieves a balance of passion; after Jane’s departure from Thornfield and the loss of his eyesight, he becomes much more spiritual and is able to achieve the same moderation that Jane exhibits throughout the novel.
she should be emotional Although Bertha does serve as one of the seeming villains of the novel, be seen more as a critique of a society in which passionate women are viewed as monsters or madwomen. Charlotte Brontë’s act of writing a novel – particularly such a Gothic one – was no doubt equally threatening to the men of her time period. In some ways, Brontë’s decision to merge the identities of the “angel” and the “monster” in the two primary female characters of her novels can be seen as a personal statement about between passion and passivity in her own life.
Reading, education, and creativity are all essential components of Jane’s growth, factors that help her achieve her final success. From the novel’s opening chapters to its close, Jane reads a variety of texts: Pamela, Gulliver’s Travels, and Marmion. Stories provide Jane with an escape from her unhappy domestic situation, feeding her imagination and offering her a vast world beyond the troubles of her real life: By opening her inner ear, she hears “a tale my imagination created . . . quickened with all incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in my actual existence.” Similarly, she believes education will allow her the freedom to improve her position in society by teaching her to act like a “lady,” but her success at school, in particular her , also increases her self-confidence. Jane confesses that artistic creation drawing ability offers her one of the “keenest pleasures” of her life, and Rochester is impressed with Jane’s drawings because of their depth and meaning, not typical of a schoolgirl. Although artistic and educational pursuits are essential elements of Jane’s personality, she also feels a need to assert her identity through rebellion. In the opening chapters of the novel, Jane refers to herself as a “rebel slave,” and throughout the story she opposes the forces that prevent her from finding happiness: Mrs. Reed’s unfair accusations, Rochester’s attempt to make her his mistress, and St. John’s desire to transform her into a missionary wife. By falling in love with Rochester, she implicitly mutinies against the dictates of class boundaries that relegate her, as a governess, to a lower status than her master.” Besides rejecting traditional views of class, she also denigrates society’s attempts to restrict women’s activities. Women, she argues, need active pursuits and intellectual stimulation, just as men do. Most of Jane’s rebellions target the inequities of society, but much of her personality is fairly conventional . In fact, she often seems to provide a model of proper English womanhood: frank, sincere, and lacking in personal vanity.
Jane’s personality balances social awareness with spiritual power. Throughout the novel, Jane is referred to as an imp, a fairy, a relative of the “men in green.” As fairy, Jane identifies herself as a special, magical creature. Connecting herself with the mythical beings in Bessie’s stories, Jane is affiliated with the realms of imagination, with the fantastic. Jane’s psychic abilities aren’t merely imaginary: her dreams and visions have a real impact on her life. For example, supernatural experiences, heralds of visions “from another world,” foreshadow drastic changes in Jane’s life, such as her move from Gateshead to Lowood, or her rediscovery of Rochester after their time apart. Thus, Jane’s spirituality isn’t a purely Christian one in fact, she rejects many of the Christian characters in the novel, such as St. John Rivers, Eliza Reed, and Mr. Brocklehurst but a mixture of Christian and pagan ideas. Like nature, Jane’s God is filled with bounty, compassion, and forgiveness — qualities lacking in many of the spiritual leaders she criticizes in the novel.
10. Q. Produce a brief account of the novel Jane Eyre where the element of foreshadowing has been used deliberately.
Throughout the novel, several characters mention Jane’s uncle, John Eyre, in ways that foreshadow him leaving Jane a substantial inheritance. Although Jane believes her relations are poor, Bessie notes in Chapter 10 that John Eyre came to visit the Reeds once, but Mrs. Reed lied about Jane’s whereabouts. Bessie insists that John Eyre “looked quite a gentleman,” which contrasts with Jane’s belief that her relatives are poor. Mrs. Reed’s lie also arouses suspicions that she may be keeping Jane from relatives who care for her. Mrs. Reed later confirms these suspicions when she makes her deathbed confession in Chapter 21, when she reveals that John Eyre had wished to adopt Jane following his successful business enterprise in Portugal. These incidents characterize Mrs. Reed as spiteful and cruel . However, these moments also create an undercurrent of hope by implying that Jane is not truly alone in the world. Beyond Gateshead, the letter informing the Rivers siblings of their unde John’s death also foreshadows Jane’s inheritance. The details of their uncle’s life match very closely with what the reader knows of Jane’s uncle, too much so to be mere coincidence.
Many of the eerie events at Thornfield Hall foreshadow the revelation of Rochester’s previous marriage to Bertha Mason, Rochester attempts to exonerate himself of guilt in Chapter 20, when he refers to his first marriage vaguely as “a capital error.” This strange conversation, in conjunction with Mr. Mason’s visit, alerts the reader that Mr. Rochester is hiding something. Bertha’s existence is evidenced by the eerie laugh wrongly attributed to Grace Poole, and the anonymous attempt to burn Rochester. Jane remarks on how odd it is that Rochester doesn’t fire Grace Poole despite her clearly being a threat to everyone’s safety. These doubts hint that Grace Poole, while a convenient scapegoat, may not be the true culprit. Bertha later wears and then destroys the wedding veil, adding a sense of dread to Jane and Rochester’s impending marriage. In retrospect, Bertha wearing the wedding veil symbolizes that she is currently Rochester’s bride. Finally, the storm that destroys the chestnut tree portends that all is not right with Rochester’s proposal to Jane. The storm worsens after Rochester vows that God is on his side. Because of this timing, the lightning strike takes on an air of divine judgement, hinting that God doesn’t sanction Rochester’s actions.
Two events in particular foreshadow the burning of Thornfield Hall. The Bertha sets Rochester’s bed on fire. At this point in the novel, the fire highlights the sense that all is not well within Thornfield. In retrospect, this attack establishes Bertha’s penchant for setting things on fire, and her anger at Rochester. Secondly, in the days before her wedding to Rochester, Jane dreams of Thornfield Hall in ruins while she wanders with a child her arms. Because this dream is one of two nightmares Jane has leading up to the wedding, it contributes to the sense of unease surrounding the upcoming marriage. In retrospect, this dream seems to prophesy the end of Thornfield. Significantly, Jane says that throughout the dream, she attempts to find a place for the child but cannot find anywhere safe amongst the wreckage. The child in the dream is symbolic of how Jane does not have a future at Thornfield, emphasized by Jane and Rochester eventually having a son together at Ferndean.
11. Q. How the power of truth and pure love is defined in the novel Jane Eyre? Discuss briefly.
Jane tells her story as her own autobiography, but a part of it is also life of her creator. The description of Lowood, and even of friends and teachers, correspond closely to Charlotte’s own schooling at the Clergy Daughters’ School (Spark, 1990, p. 78); and Jane’s experience with the Ingrams, showing the kind of treatment a governess could expect, is based on Charlotte’s personal knowledge. Reconstructions of various small events in her life are scattered through the book; the firing of Rochester’s bed echoes an episode in Branwell’s life; Bewick’s British Birds was a favorite on the shelves at Haworth; the confinement of a mad woman in the attic was a story Charlotte had heard at Stonegate.
The greatness of a work of art is commensurate with the greatness of its inspiration and the adequacy of its means of communication. Now, the story of a woman in true love would be interesting but not necessarily great; the story of a woman’s fight to express her own personality in love would be even more interesting but yet not necessarily great. Jane Eyre is great because it is these things and also something more. it is also the record of an intense spiritual experience, as powerful in its way as King Lear’s ordeal of purgation, and it ends notably on a note of calm. In Jane Eyre, young Jane discovers passion and fears it; and her early anger and sense of injustice are strongly and directly expressed.
When Jane Eyre opens, the reader learns that she has reached her goal: she is married to Rochester and has a son by him. The novel celebrates young Jane’s ambition and determination in overcoming adversity and social prejudice. The novel has a distinctly Gothic atmosphere. Both the setting (a mansion with a mysterious attic) and Rochester’s mad and violent wife create mystery and suspense. An element of the supernatural is also introduced through such devices as the telling of dreams, which foreshadow real events.
Young Jane’s story, as well as being that of a romantic and Gothic heroine is also a progression in moral and spiritual terms. The situations in which she finds herself require that she should learn a Christian attitude to her own nature. Young Jane has also certain strong characteristics. She is passionate and imaginative-human sympathies and affections have a powerful hold on her. She thinks too much of the love of human beings. She longs for a wide experience of life.
True and pure love, indeed, is one of the main themes of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre: for it was inevitably the central preoccupation of so passionate temperament. Charlotte’s power to describe it is, of course, conditioned by the nature of her genius. The novelist cannot dissect the workings of passion, nor can she illuminate its effect on character. What she can do is to convey its actual present throb. Moreover, this Charlotte does as it had never been done before in English fiction.
The chief theme of Jane Eyre is revealed as a girl’s growth to mature independence, and an equal partnership in love. Jane achieves her independence by her own spirited struggle through adversity, and she understands in the end that she is her own woman and can manage her own life. Although she chooses to devote herself to Rochester, she is not dependent on him and her choice is free. Not only is she free, but in her own eyes she is eventually his equal; ‘equal- as we are!’ she cries (Jane Eyre, p. 34), when they finally come together. The development of young Jane’s love for Rochester, with all it reveals of the difficulties of a satisfactory relationship in love and marriage, lies at the core of the novel.
Jane Eyre begins her story as a ten-year old orphan in the house of her aunt, the authoritarian and unfeeling Mrs. Reed. Mrs. Reed accuses her of lying as a punishment sends her to Lowood Institution. After an unhappy adolescence there, she becomes a teacher and finds a job as governess to Adele, the illegitimate daughter of Mr. Rochester. Jane and Rochester fell in love, but on their wedding day she discovers that mysterious mad woman who lives in total seclusion in Rochester’s house is really his wife. Despite his desperate pleas Jane runs away and is cared for by the Rivers family. She she and Rivers are cousins and that she has inherited a considerable sum of money. When she is on the point of marrying Reverend St. John Rivers and emigrating to India, she telepathically hears Rochester’s voice asking her to help him. She goes to Rochester Hall and finds it burnt down. Although Rochester has been blinded, she marries him and his sight is partially restored.
Jane’s story reveals also, an abiding concern with religion, and the right relation God. Although for a while God’s image is obscured by that of Rochester, through all her sufferings Jane never doubts divine mercy, even when for a brief time she finds she cannot pray. When she leaves Rochester and faces death on the moors, she returns to God. Commending Rochester and her own soul to Him. Several different attitudes to faith are exhibited and rejected; Mr. Brocklehurst’s cruel hypocrisy, St. John’s cold fanaticism, Helen’s gentle acceptance, Mrs. Reed’s refusal to forgive, and Eliza’s rigid Catholicism, are all censured in various forms, fiercely, gently, or covertly. Jane believes it is right to struggle against adversity, but hatred and revenge are not permitted. Even as a child, momentarily triumphant after her outburst again Mrs. Reed, she soon regrets what she has done.
To conclude, it is also clear, from all we know of Charlotte’s thoughts and feelings, that Jane’s character is a close reflection of her own. Her painful conviction of her own lack of beauty, her views on love and marriage, her motherless state, her high intelligence, and her perseverance in adversity are all traits she shares with her heroine. But the fact that so much is drawn from Charlotte’s life does not detract from the achievement of the book. Her creative intensity is such that all the material, real and invented, is equally fused into the stuff of her story.
Jane sees marriage as based on romantic love. Her passion for Rochester reveals itself trembling and flushing, and she is apprehensive about the strength of her own feelings. She rebuffed his advances, refuses to be treated to jewels and riches, and refuses to become his mistress. When they married she sees herself fulfilled as ‘bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh’ (Jane Eyre, p. 93). Like her, however, he is capable of learning from experience, and he grows in stature through the book. Again like Jane, he grows through suffering; which all his hopes of happiness, and then his physical strength as well, are removed from him, he struggles painfully through to a gentleness and calm. When Jane finds him at Ferndean, he has come bitterly to regret his attempted bigamy. He is mellowed and chastened, and has found a new strength in his submission to God’s will. Although, to today’s reader her words seem so guarded, Charlotte has never written so frankly again; critics accused her of coarseness and crudity, and the attack went The world for Jane is to be Thornfield Hall, and her testing is to be in terms of that craving for love which she has always felt. Jane shows herself equal to the occasion. She can control her emotions even under Mr. Rochester’s pretence of being in love with vivacious beautiful Ingram who is determined to capture Mr. Rochester’s wealth. Mr. Rochester encourages Ingram’s hopes in order to arouse Jane’s jealousy too, but he knows she does not love him. In spite of her pain, Jane finds it impossible to be jealous of her, because she is so contemptible. They are two totally contrasted women, one beautiful, the other plain; one rich, the other poor; one shallow, the other deep and complex.
Jane is horrified by Rivers’ belief that love is not necessary in marriage, for her love and marriage are indissoluble. To her Rivers’ view of marriage is a kind of sacrilege, while to him it is a duty in the service of God. The ruthless force of his character is such that Jane begins to waver, and believe she ought to accept his proposal. His moral pressure places her in ‘an iron shroud’ (Jane Eyre, p. 98) and under ‘a freezing spell’ (Jane Eyre, 2.99), and his kiss becomes a seal on her fetters. He is merciless in his determination to take her to India as his wife, and stonily rebuffs her attempts at friendly reconciliation. Unscrupulously , he practices a kind of hypnotism on her, and she is almost on the point of surrender ‘down the torrent of his will ‘ (Jane Eyre, p.120) when she is saved by Rochester’s cry. Pinion (1991, p. 46) has rightly pointed out that: This extraordinary openness to feeling, this escape from the bondage of the trite, continues in the Rivers relationship, which is a structural parallel to the Rochester affairs: as in Rochester the old sex villain is seen in a new perspective, so in Rivers the clerical hero is radically refashioned; and Jane’s almost accepting a would-be husband is given the aesthetic status of a regretful yielding to a seducer.
When Jane Eyre leaves Lowood School, she is but a novice in the world, in spite of her contact with the spiritual in the saintly Helen Burns and with the fleshly in Mrs. Reed. Indeed, to Jane the greatest thing in life is to be loved by a person. And we need not be surprised, for the love of any kind has been so far denied to the child throughout her short life. Before such a novice, to whom the yearnings of the flesh and the spirit are at best indistinguishable, is placed the specious temptation in love, love imagined in its most stirring form, impetuous and violent- Mr. Rochester.
When Jane sets out for Thornfield next day, she arrives a day and a half later she finds it a blackened ruin. She discovers that it was burnt down by Bertha, who perished in the fire, while Rochester lost his sight and his left hand. He is now at his other house, Ferndean, thirty miles away, Jane finds him there, blind and helpless. He is at first unbelieving, then oyerwhelmed with joy. They arrange their marriage, and realize that each hearted the despairing cry of the other.
Writing ten years after the event, Jane finds their marriage perfect. Rochester has recovered his sight of one eye, and is able to see their first-born son. The last lines of the book are with St. John Rivers, who will soon die in his noble Christian service in India. Jane’s struggle is a hard one; after the broken marriage at Thornfield, she is unwilling to leave her lover, Mr. Rochester, although she has seen the danger. Jane surmounts the obstacles and returns to Mr. Rochester and succeeds in obtaining true love and leads a happy life with him after a hard struggle.
In an age when women were denied access to education and excluded from political debate, the publication of Jane Eyre was like a breath of fresh air. Her fiery independent temperament and fearless conviction were characteristics that went against the traditional portrayal of women. Charlotte Bronte, the most outstanding of the Bronte sisters, was not prepared to accept a world where women were second-class citizens. Jane Eyre is not only Charlotte Bronte’s finest novel; it is perhaps the finest novel of our time.
Charlotte Bronte admired men who were strong in will. She expected in marriage to be ‘well-ruled and ordered by an exacting, rigid, law-giving and passionate husband. Through her protagonist Jane, the writer Bronte reflects that marriage without pure and true love is lifeless and motionless one, therefore, an ideal husband or wife selection is based on pure and pure love. Mr. Rochester and Jane marry, not physical anguish in which we saw them, but in a calmer , nobler mood, ‘all passion spent’. Neither the flesh, nor the spirit, will tear Jane again, for from her double ordeal she has emerged unscathed, neither a profligate nor an ascetic, but a woman who has found an equable solution to the age-old problem which troubled others besides the Victorian but which troubled them intensely.
To conclude, that is Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre as it appears to us, a new contribution in English fiction which reflects aspects’ of early Victorian social and economic phenomena. What Charlotte Bronte achieved in Jane Eyre was the cornerstone for a generation after generation.
12. Q. In what ways might Jane Eyre be considered a feminist novel points does the novel make about the treatment and position of women in Victorian society? With particular attention to the book’s treatment of marriage, any way in which it might be considered anti-feminist?
Q. Discuss the representations of the various women in the novel Reed, Miss Temple, Céline Varens, Blanche Ingram, Bertha Mason, and Diana and Mary Rivers. What does Jane learn about proper feminine behavior from these women? Which are positive role models? Negative? feminist novel.
Jane offers a help to him, he leans on her shoulder and admits that him to make her useful (JE 113). Thus, Jane and Mr. Rochester begin their relationship as master and servant, prince and Cinderella; in another way, they begin as spiritual equals (Gilbert 790). Relying on Phelan’s argument about thematic character, Jane works in Thornfield as Adele’s governess; but she realises her famous saying about the equality between men and women: feels as a men feel;
Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but a woman they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do ; they suffer from a rigid restraint, too absolute stagnation, precisely as a men would suffer; it is a narrow-minded in their more privileged a fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves making pudding knitting to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex (JE 108). equal to men and women’s needs being the same as after that The idea of women as being men’s are undoubtedly unacceptable to Victorian society, no wonder she says anybody would blame her of saying that. Through Jane, Charlotte rejects traditional views of class distinction and also denigrates society’s attempt to restrict women’s activities. Charlotte wants to say that women need active pursuits and to have career, education, and some activities to increase their creativity as men do. Although she describes herself as poor, obscure, plain and little, indigent and insignificant Plebeian, she seems to be aware that these only external qualities derived from social conventions, otherwise she tells Mr. Rochester that she is full of heart and soul, and her spirit or mental qualities stand equal to those of any upper gentry.
Jane seeks her identity and strives for equality in her relationship with Mr. Rochester: “I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh;—it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal, -as we are!” (JE 248). Even in religious belief, Jane believes that men and women are equal in front of God because they both will be addressed as spirits not as physical corpses and regardless of their customs and conventionalities in their society. Mr. Rochester asks Jane to live with him and to be his mistress, but Jane refuses to enter into a union that would not be based on equality.
Moreover, to be Mr. Rochester’s mistress, it would be a kind of slavery or dependency for Jane. Even before the secret of Bertha is revealed, Jane is uncertain and hesitant about her wedding and marriage to him because she is conscious of the class differences between them and her economic inferiority to his own. She is aware of the problems that are associated with unequal marriage; thus, even though she loves Mr. Rochester, she refuses to marry him until she gets her inheritance from her uncle John Eyre. Jane can’t reach equality in her relationship with St. John Rivers; she rejects him when he proposes her to join him in India as his missionary partner: she will not sacrifice herself to serve a man the sole incentive of moral duty. She desires not only emotional equality; she wants complete equality between men and women.
Jane ultimately inherits a large amount of money from her wealthy uncle who elevates her status and enables her to forgo the society around her and enter into marriage of equality with Mr. Rochester. Their marriage now is based on equality and autonomy. The equality that exists between Jane and Mr. Rochester begins already Thornfield but deepens at Ferndean. At Thornfield, Mr. Rochester tells Jane that “my bride is here, because my equal is here, and my likeness” (JE 244). At Thornfield they are equal mentally and spiritually; however, at socially equal. Jane Eyre is an orphan and ill treated little girl who learns how to live from her childhood’s environment in order to shape her growing strong and experienced personality, She has a special image out of the ordinary: she makes a life by herself, and dares to show her own voice under the pressure of life, she always maintains her self-respect by hard work, intelligence and tough individualism. She never gives in on her way, though she has little figure but with a huge soul. After a long inner struggle, Jane resumes that she cares for herself and the more solitary, more friendless, more unsustained she is, the more she will respect herself (JE 310-311). Basically, Jane holds in God’s laws and principles that protect her body and her soul as well against any danger. For this reason, her self-respect is strong.
13 . Q. Discuss the representation of foreigners in the novel Richard Mason, Céline and Adèle Varens. How are the colonies represented? What is the source of Rochester’s wealth? Of Jane’s inheritance?
Q. Discuss Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre as a post-colonialistic novel.
Q. Explore Jane’s ideas of religion. What does she learn about Christianity from Helen Burns, Mr. Brocklehurst, and St. John Rivers? How do their views of Christianity contrast with hers? What problems does she see in their values?
As a theoretical approach, postcolonialism asks readers to consider the way colonialist and anti-colonialist messages are presented in literary texts. It argues that Western culture is Eurocentric, meaning it presents European values as natural and universal, while Eastern ideas are, for example, inferior, immoral, or “Savage.” A postcolonial approach to Jane Eyre might begin by considering the following questions: What does the novel reveal about the way cultural difference was represented in Victorian culture? How did Britain justify its colonialist project by imaging the East as “savage” or uncivilized? What idea does the text create of “proper” British behavior? Tentative answers to these questions can be discovered by examining the novel’s representation of foreign women, especially Bertha Mason, and the colonialist doctrines of Jane and of St. John Rivers.
One of the colonialist goals of this novel is to create a prototype woman, someone like Jane who is frank, sincere, and lacking in personal vanity. This ideal is created by Jane’s attempt to contrast herself with the foreign women in the text. For example, both Céline Varens and her daughter are constantly criticized in the novel for their supposed superficiality and materialism. According to Rochester, Céline Varens charmed the “English gold” out of his “British breeches,” a comment that emphasizes his supposedly British innocence and her wily French ways. Supporting this idea, Jane comments that Adèle has a superficiality of character, “hardly congenial to an English mind.” Jane’s final ethnocentric comments in relation to little Adèle are significant: “a sound English education corrected in a great measure her French defects.” Only through a good English lifestyle has Adèle avoided her mother’s tragic flaws: materialism and sensuality, characteristics the novel specifically associates with foreign women. Jane’s comments imply that the English, unlike their French neighbors, are deep rather than superficial, spiritual rather than materialistic. is also a
But Jane’s position is more conflicted than Rochester’s: As a woman she member of a colonized group, but as a specifically British woman, she is a colonizer. When she claims Rochester gives her a smile such as a sultan would “bestow on a slave his gold and gems had enriched,” she emphasizes the colonized status of all women. Insisting that he prefers his “one little English girl” to the “Grand Turk’s whole seraglio,” Rochester points to Jane’s powerlessness, her reduction to sex slave. Rather than becoming slave, Jane insists she will become a missionary, preaching liberty to women enslaved in harems. Her comments show the dual position of European women: both colonized and colonizers. While Rochester reduces her to a colonized “doll” or “performing ape,” her comments show her Eurocentric understanding of Eastern culture: She implies that she’ll be the enlightened Englishwoman coming to the rescue of poor, abused Turkish women. All women are enslaved by male despotism, but the British woman claims a moral and spiritual superiority over her Eastern sisters.
This difference becomes intense in Jane’s representation of Bertha Mason. Bertha’s vampiric appearance suggests she is sucking the lifeblood away from the innocent Rochester, who tells Jane he was as innocent as she is until he turned twenty-one and was married to Bertha: His goodness was taken by this savage woman. An insane Creole woman, Bertha represents British fears of both foreigners and women. The “blood-red” moon, a symbol of women’s menstrual cycles, is reflected in her eyes, suggesting her feminine, sexual potency. Unlike Jane, Bertha refuses to be controlled; a woman whose stature almost equals her husband’s, she fights with him, displaying a “virile” force that almost masters Rochester. Post-colonial critics argue that Bertha, the foreign woman, is sacrificed so that British Jane can achieve self-identity . Their arguments suggest Rochester isn’t as innocent as he claims; as a colonialist, he was in the West Indies to make money and to overpower colonized men and women. Notice how both Jane and Rochester emphasize his ability to control Bertha’s brother , Richard. Much of Rochester’s critique of Bertha hinges on her sexuality and exotic excess. When he first met her, Rochester’s senses were aroused by her dazzle, splendor , and lusciousness. But he later found her debauchery to be his “Indian Messalina’s attribute.” Thus, the characteristics that first attract her to him, her sensual excesses, spon repulse him.
The representation of Bertha presents native peoples in the colonies as coarse, lascivious, and ignorant, thus justifying St. John’s missionary role: Bertha is a foreign “savage” in need of British guidance and enlightenment. Just as Jane retrains the minds of her lower-class students in England, St. John will reform the values of the pagans in India. Both characters perpetuate a belief in British, Christian-based moral and spiritual superiority. But St. John’s inability to “renounce his wide field of mission warfare” shows that his colonialist impulse isn’t based on compassion or mutual understanding, but on violence violating the minds of native peoples, if not their bodies.
For twenty-first-century readers, St. John’s missionary zeal is morally suspect, because it shows his participation in the colonialist project, which resulted in violence against and violation of native people. St. John’s coldheartedness suggests the brutality and selfserving function of colonialism. Jane claims St. John “forgets, pitilessly, the feelings and claims of little people, in pursuing his own large views”; imagine the damage he will inflict on any native people who resist him. Like Jane, they will be repressed by his merciless egotism. St. John spends the rest of his life laboring for “his race” in India. A great warrior, St. John sternly clears the “painful way to improvement” for the natives, slaying their prejudices of “creed and caste,” though obviously not his own. In his zealous Christianity, he sees the Indians as an inferior race and hopes to implant British values in their supposedly deficient minds.
As a child at Gateshead, Jane has only a vague sense of religion. She’s familiar with the Bible, but when her cousin bullies her, she responds impulsively without thinking of the consequences. At Lowood she is exposed to Mr. Brocklehurst’s harsh version of religious morality that emphasizes sin and punishment. Contrasted with that is the gentle, very spiritual Christianity of Helen Burns. Helen Burns teaches Jane that belief in a higher power can help her endure indignities without lashing out. Helen’s interpretation of Christianity appeals to Jane, but it’s a little too spiritual for someone as rooted in the natural world as Jane. At Thornfield, and later at Moor House, Jane seems to have developed a relationship to religion that’s comfortable for her and supports her through trying times.
St. John represents yet another attitude toward religion. For him, religion is for his ambition and craving for glory and heroism. He is conscientious , self-sacrificing , and puts duty to God above all else, but his approach to religion is joyless. Rochester comes to accept his fate as God’s punishment for his ill-advised attempt to marry Jane while he was still married. He shows no contrition over the betrayal of his vows to Bertha Mason. Rather his guilt stems from the sense that such a marriage would have tainted Jane. Eliza Reed also finds satisfaction in religion but feels she must withdraw from society to fully express her spirituality. Jane manages to more successfully integrate her religious beliefs with her emotional and social life.
14. Q. Explain the importance of paranormal experiences in the novel. What do the characters learn from dreams and visions? How do these experiences modify your understanding of the characters? How do the supernatural elements with the novel’s realism?
Brontë uses many themes of Gothic novels to add drama and suspense to Jane But the novel isn’t just a ghost story because Brontë also reveals the reasons behind supernatural events. For instance, Mr. Reed’s ghost in the red-room is a figment of Jane’s stressed-out mind, while Bertha is the “demon” in Thornfield. In Jane Eyre, the effects supernatural matter more than the causes.
The supernatural allows Brontē to explore her characters’ psyches, especially Jane’s inner fears. The climactic supernatural moment in the novel occurs when Jane and Rochester have a telepathic connection. In the text, Jane makes it clear that the connection was not supernatural to her . Instead, she considers that moment a mysterious spiritual connection. Brontë makes their telepathy part of her conceptions of love and religion. Having been stung by the rejection of her novel The Professor , Brontë very consciously shaped the narrative of Jane Eyre around events that might typically be found in Gothic novels. This was a hugely popular genre which had developed in the late eighteenth century. It usually involves a long and complicated narrative of a damsel in distress, trapped in some ghastly castle or mansion, besieged by a sexually rapacious and devious aristocrat, haunted by ghosts and ghouls, chased by innumerable nasties throughout the being rescued by a knight in shining armour, a morally upright man.
In many ways, Rochester lives up to the stereotype of the morally suspect, sexually rapacious aristocrat: he attempts to lure Jane falsely into marriage, and then, when he is discovered to have a wife, still persists, claiming that she could live as his mistress. His motivations are undoubtedly sexual. He is presented as a bad-tempered, tempestuous, passionate man who has scant regard for the strict moral codes of the day. Moreover, he inhabits a classic Gothic domain: the mysterious and wonderful Thornfield Hall. It is a nlace haunted by strange ghostly laughs in the night, unexplained fires, terrifying and inexplicable acts of violence, vast, misty grounds and, perhaps most importantly, forbidden realms: corridors and floors and rooms that are out of bounds. It is, as Jane Eyre herself true Bluebeard’s castle. and it is one of the nores, a deliberate upon Brontë’s part,
There is perhaps no better Gothic novel in English. It is marvellously, wonderfully, brilliantly well written because it is so convincing. As we noted before, it is the psychological realism that Brontë brings to the character of Jane Eyre her feisty, earthy, indomitable reactions to the events and characters of Thornfield – which make the Gothic elements so plausible.
At the heart of this plausibility is Bronte’s refusal to allow her main protagonist to be painted as a stereotypical Gothic heroine. Parodied by Jane Austen in her take-off of the Gothic novel Northanger Abbey, your average Gothic heroine is forever frightened, forever terrified, always passively running away, avoiding calumny and destruction. Brontë makes a conscious choice for her Gothic heroine to be ‘active’. Rather contrary to the stereotype, Jane is forever rescuing the man. This starts with the very first scene in which she encounters Rochester: she helps him up after he has fallen from his horse.
Later on, she saves him from being burnt to death in his own bed by his first wife. She even ignores his attempts to persuade her to stay at the house when she learns that her aunt, Mrs Reed, is dying, deciding of her own accord to leave the Gothic realm (a very unusual event in novels of this type). She is, throughout, the decider of her own destiny. She rejects Rochester’s offer of living in sin and leaves; but then she more or less engineers her own proposal of marriage at the end of the novel, happy to be dominant over the ‘crippled, blind’ Rochester.
15. Q. Critically appreciate Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre.
Jane Eyre: An Autobiography is a bildungsroman, or coming of age novel, written by Charlotte Brontë and originally published in 1847 under the male pseudonym Currer Bell by Smith, Elder & Co. of London. Through Jane’s life and experiences, Bronté examines social issues including religious hypocrisy, class discrimination, and sexism. Many literary theorists and biographers—including Brontë’s friend and fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, have also noted numerous similarities between the novel’s events and Brontë’s personal history.
The novel has been widely adapted into plays, operas, films, and television series. Jane Eyre has also been the subject of significant feminist theoretical texts, such as The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, and literary reinterpretations, such as Jean Rhys’s novel Wide Sargasso Sea. This guide refers to the Project Gutenberg eBook edition of the novel.
When Jane Eyre opens, its narrator, a 10-year-old orphan named Jane, is living with the Reeds, her maternal uncle’s family, in a manor called Gateshead. Jane’s embittered Aunt Reed sees her as a burden, encouraging her children to mistreat and exclude Jane. When Jane retaliates against her particularly cruel, tyrannical cousin John Reed, her Aunt punishes her by locking her in the “red-room”—the room where Jane’s Uncle Reed diedand then sends her to a nearby boarding school called Lowood. Before Jane departs, she confronts her aunt about her cruel mistreatment.
Led by its vicious and hypocritical headmaster Mr. Brocklehurst, Lowood treats its students even more harshly, with punishments meted out for even the slightest perceived infractions. Only Jane’s new friend Helen and her kind teacher Miss Temple offer Jane any consolation Lowood’s students lack basic needs bike nourishing food, dean water, and rvation from the winte cakastensby to build their Christian character, though K Brodeus ports from these cuthacks. When a typhus epidemic strikes, many of the girls become gravey , having been made suscepoble by the school’s poor conditions.
After the typhus epidemic, new leadership takes over Lowood and makes it into a much better institution Jane stays on as a student and then a teacher for eight years, until she accept a poston as a governess at a country manor called Thornfield. There, jane teaches a young French girt named Adèle, the ward of Thornfield’s mysterious owner, Mc Edward Rochester. Bane meets Mr. Rochester when he is thrown from his horse. As he summons lane for evening conversations, the two quickly learn that they share many interests and eccentrodes, and they establish themselves as intellectual equais. lane struggles with her romantic feelings for Mr. Rochester, since he intends to marty a beautiful woman named Blanche Ingram. As time passes and the two grow increasingly dose, Mc Rochester abandons the idea of marrying Blanche and offers an mpassione proposal to Jane.
A man named Mc Mason interrupts their wedding: Mr. Rochester cannot legally marry Jane because he is already married. Mr. Rochester confesses: His father tricked him into marrying the wealthy Bertha Mason, ignoring her incipient mental illness and violent outbursts. To protect both the community and himself from her, Mr. Rochester has kept Bertha locked in the attic for 15 years, in the care of a woman named Grace Poole. Mr. Rochester begs Jane to run away with him, but despite her love for him, Jane staunchly refuses becoming his mistress. She flees Thornfield. She wanders until she reaches the house of governesses Diana and Mary and their brother, a clergyman named St. John Rivers. The cold and severe St. John lears Jane’s identity and tells her that her unde, John Eyre, recently passed away and left her 20,000 pounds. He also reveals that John Eyre was his own unde, making him and Jane cousins. Jane is delighted to learn that she has living relatives and insists on dividing the inheritance equally between herself, Diana, Mary, and St. John.
St. John feels called to serve as a missionary in India and asks Jane to join does not love Jane, but feels that her hardworking, steadfast demeanor would make her an ideal missionary’s wife. Jane tells St. John that she will go to India with him, but she cannot marry him because they are not in love. Soon after, Jane mysteriously hears Mr. Rochester’s voice calling her from a great distance. She swiftly returns to Thornfield, now a charred ruin. At a local inn, she learns that Bertha set Thornfield on fire before jumping from the roof. Badly burned, Mr. Rochester lost his eyesight in the fire. Jane finds Mr. Rochester living at a remote cottage in the woods. Jane affirms that she loves him and is content to remain by his side for the rest of their lives. They marry, and Mr. Rochester eventually recovers some of his eyesight. He is thus able to see the face of his newborn son.
Charlotte Brontë was born in Yorkshire, England on April 21, 1816 to and Patrick Brontë. Because Charlotte’s mother died when Charlotte was five years old, Charlotte’s aunt, a devout Methodist, helped her brother-in-law raise his children. In 1824 Charlotte and three of her sisters—Maria, Elizabeth, and Emily-were sent to Cowan Bridge, a school for clergymen’s daughters. When an outbreak of tuberculosis killed Maria and Fizabeth, Charlotte and Emily were brought home. Several years later, Charlotte returned to school, this time in Roe Head, England. She became a teacher at the school n 1835 but decided after several years to become a private governess instead. She was fuired to live with and tutor the children of the wealthy Sidgewick family in 1839, but the job was a misery to her and she soon left it. Once Chariotte recognized that her dream of starting her own school was not immediately realizable, however , she returned to working as a governess, this time for a different family. Finding herself equally disappointed with governess work the second time around, Charlotte recruited her sisters to join her in more serious preparation for the establishment of a school.
Brontës school was unsuccessful , their literary projects flourished. At a young age, the children created a fictional world they named Angria , and their many stories, poems, and plays were early predictors of shared writing talent that eventually led Emily, Anne , and Charlotte to careers as novelists. As adults, Charlotte suggested that she, Anne, and Emily collaborate on a book of poems. The three sisters published under male pseudonyms: Charlotte’s was Currer Bell, while Emily and Anne wrote as Elis and Acton Bell, respectively . When the poetry volume received little public notice, the sisters decided to work on separate novels but retained the same pseudonyms. Anne and Emily produced their masterpieces in 1847, but Charlotte’s first book, The Professor, never found a willing publisher during her lifetime. Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre later that year.
Autobiographical elements are recognizable throughout Jane Eyre. Jane’s experience at Lowood School, where her dearest friend dies of tuberculosis, recalls the death of Charlotte’s sisters at Cowan Bridge. The hypocritical religious fervor of the headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, is based in part on that of the Reverend Carus Wilson, the Evangelical minister who ran Cowan Bridge. Charlotte took revenge upon the school that treated her so poorly by using it as the basis for the fictional Lowood. Jane’s friend Helen Burns’s tragic death from tuberculosis recalls the deaths of two of Charlotte’s sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, who succumbed to the same disease during their time at Cowan Bridge. Additionally, John Reed’s decline into alcoholism and dissolution is most likely modeled upon the life of Charlotte Brontë’s brother Branwell , who slid into opium and alcohol addictions in the years preceding his death. Finally, like Charlotte, Jane becomes a governess-a neutral vantage point from which to observe and describe the oppressive social ideas and practices of nineteenth-century Victorian society.
The plot of Jane Eyre follows the form of a Bildungsroman, which is a novel that tells the story of a child’s maturation and focuses on the emotions and experiences that accompany and incite his or her growth to adulthood. In Jane Eyre, there are five distinct stages of development, each linked to a particular place: Jane’s childhood at Gateshead, her education at the Lowood School, her time as Adèle’s governess at Thornfield, her time with the Rivers family at Morton and at Marsh End (also called Moor House), and her reunion with and marriage to Rochester at Ferndean. From these experiences, Jane becomes a mature woman who narrates the novel retrospectively. But the Bildungsroman plot of Jane Eyre, and the book’s element of social criticism, are filtered through a third literary tradition—that of the Gothic horror story. Like the Bildungsroman, the Gothic genre originated in Germany.
After the success of Jane Eyre, Charlotte revealed her Identity to her publisher and went on to write several other novels, most notably Shirley in 1849. In the years that followed, she became a respected member of London’s literary set. But the deaths of siblings Emily and Branwell in 1848, and of Anne in 1849, left her feeling dejected and emotionally isolated. In 1854, she wed the Reverend Arthur Nicholls, despite the fact that she did not love him. She died of pneumonia, while pregnant, the following year.
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