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Themes in Jane Eyre


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Detailed information about the themes in the novel 'Jane Eyre'

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Themes in Jane Eyre

  1. 1. Themes in Jane Eyre
  2. 2. The Gothic is a major theme in Jane Eyre, and most literature atthe time, Jane herself is associate with the supernatural/gothic.Bronte does this to make Jane stand out from the other characters.THE GOTHIC
  3. 3. Features of The Gothic in Literature• The Supernatural: ghosts, ghouls and all things spooky are often used in literature as signs of warning/danger• Architecture: Architecture is a key element in the Gothic as it reflects the type of atmosphere and themes is the novel. For example in ‘The Strange case of Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde’ the architecture of the house is shown to be negative as it shows a lack of care and love, there is also a hint of things that are hidden• A sense of returning back to a medieval past e.g. Castles, monasteries• Female suffering: Either imprisonment, rape or murder at the hands of an authoritive figure e.g. Monk, husband
  4. 4. The Red Room• Pgs 8-9• „tapenade‟ – associated with death• “strange little figure...coming out of lone” “tiny phantoms” – fantasy, phantom like• “Mr Reed had been dead nine years...breathed his last” – ghost stories• “crimson cloth”-red repetition emphasising Jane‟s fear• “pale throne” – death image
  5. 5. Thornfield ArrivalPgs 84-92• There is mystery surrounding Thornfield and Rochester as the reader is „drip-fed‟ details, leaving the scene to the reader‟s imagination• Thornfield itself is presented as a gothic mansion with wild roses growing up the side showing signs of neglect and reflects Rochester‟s character• Through the story of „Blue Beard‟ Bronte hints at violence and imprisonment : both features of female suffering in the Gothic• At the end of the chapter Jane hears a mysterious laugh: Bertha‟s first appearance in the novel
  6. 6. Jane walking in the country lanes just before her encounter with RochesterPgs 95-96• “The ground was hard, the air was still, my road was lonely”• “dimness” “low-gilding and pale beaming sun” –little light adding to the eerie atmosphere• “wild roses” –overgrown and untamed• “utter solitude and leafless repose” –little life, reflects her loneliness
  7. 7. Rochester’s first appearancePgs 100-101• So far Rochester is still unknown, and for four months there was no sign of Rochester• When they first meet Rochester still doesn‟t reveal his true identity• His features are described as being „dark‟ – mysterious, evil?• Rochester‟s dog reminds Jane of an old folk tale which represents a bad omen
  8. 8. Bertha’s outburstPg 180-187• At the night of Mr Mason‟s arrival, he is attacked by Bertha and is left wounded• This scene is a particular good example for the Gothic in Jane Eyre as the night Mr Mason is attacked there is a full moon which is associated with supernatural creatures such as werewolves and vampires• “I saw too that his linen on one side and one arm was almost soaked in blood”-Blood: a reoccurring symbol in Gothic novels such as Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ in which Stoker uses blood as a symbol for sex• “moistened the corpse-like face” –Half -dead• “She sucked the blood: she said she‟d drain my heart” –Vampire like
  9. 9. Before Rochester’s 1st ProposalPg 218-219• “the trees were in their dark prime”• “antique garden” – reference to a time long past• “I trode on an edging of turf that the crackle of the pebbly gravel” – nature foreshadowing events• „moth‟ – associated with old or/and dead things• “As I crossed his shadow, thrown long over the garden by the moon, no yet risen high” – Rochester‟s shadow is distorted and eerie
  10. 10. Romance may be the most obvious theme of the novel; howevergetting together was never that easyROMANCE
  11. 11. Jane and Rochester• Jane takes the job of being a governess at Thornfield; which is owned by Rochester.• Shortly after working there Jane falls in love with her employer; however there are many obstacles preventing them being together• Obstacle one: Jane is of a lower class and it would be a scandal if the two were to be married!• Obstacle two: Rochester is already married to Bertha: the mad woman he keeps in the attic
  12. 12. Jane and Rochester• After Mr Mason interrupts the wedding in chapter 26, Jane leaves Thornfield as she is heartbroken• Jane has to learn how to love without sacrificing herself completely and her moral compass that she clings tightly to• Jane inherits money from her late Uncle and discovers that the Rivers are distant family members: this changes Jane‟s status and she gets the family she always longed for• Jane dreams of Rochester and even hears his voice on the moors• She rushes back to Thornfield to find the estate burned down• She finds Rochester at Ferndean, as he is recovering from his injuries. Rochester is more humble as a result of his injuries• They finally marry, have a child and live happily ever after at Ferndean
  13. 13. Jane and Rochester• When Jane and Rochester finally get together they are both equals• Bronte splits Jane and Rochester up mid-novel so Jane can develop as a character, by the time Jane goes back to Rochester she is now a woman and accomplished (spiritually, money and status)• Bertha also had to die for Jane and Rochester to be together, Bertha is what is keeping Jane and Rochester apart morally and legally.
  14. 14. Even though Jane is fairly educated, she still refers to old folk talesin the novelSUPERSTITON
  15. 15. The story of Gytrash• In chapter 12, a few months into Jane‟s stay at Thornfield, Jane goes on a walk in the country. Whilst watching the moon rise alone, a horse approaches. A story that Bessie once told her springs to mind.• The story was of a spirit called Gytrash, who disguises itself as a mule, dog or horse to frighten travellers. Gytrash generally is a bad omen.• As the horse comes closer, a dog and a rider also appear from the misty weather• As the horse and its rider pass Jane, the rider slips on ice and is injured• Taking into account that Gytrash is a bad omen, was this all a warning that Jane should have left?
  16. 16. Dream of babies• Jane dreams on a series of consecutive nights about babies.• Jane remembers what Bessie said about dreaming of babies that it was “a sure sign of trouble, either to one‟s self or one‟s kin” (chapter 21)• Jane thinks the dream is a bad omen
  17. 17. We, the reader, can also interpret the novel as being a fairytale dueto its fairytale-like qualitiesFAIRYTALES
  18. 18. Key Features in Fairytales• The Good and the Bad: In most fairytales there is a sense of certain characters being bad and others good, this is a „label‟ made usually by society concerning looks, characteristics and whether a particular character follows the rules of society. Characters who are outsiders or considered non-conformists are usually thought to be as „bad‟ or „evil‟• Struggle to a higher class: some fairytales tell the tale of the protagonist and their journey to becoming of a higher status, a good example of this would be Cinderella as she goes from a servant to a princess, even Disneys Hercules can be seen as an example of this as he goes from a normal boy to a demi-God• The Happy ending: All fairytales have the happy ending we all know so well, for example: the prince marries the princess or the kingdom is restored back to peace and harmony, etc.
  19. 19. Jane: The Cinderella Story• Jane starts off as an orphan and of lower class, she has no friends and feels unloved• She then becomes educated and obtains the job of a governess at Thornfield: making her middle-class• The wicked Mrs Reed and John Reed die• Jane then gets engaged to Rochester who wants to buy her the finest garments and jewellery: which she rejects (chapter 24)• Jane inherits money from her uncle; and discoveries that the Rivers are distant cousins• Bertha kills herself; finally Jane and Rochester can be together• Jane finally marries Rochester, by the end of the novel, which betters her own social status
  20. 20. The ending of the novel• At the end of the novel Jane is married happily to Rochester and is mother to Adele and a child of her own• Jane also has recently inherited money from her uncle, so she is now wealthy and of higher status• St.John, who Bronte portrays as cold and wicked, goes on a pilgrimage and dies of illness• Finally there is a happy ending for Jane!
  21. 21. Through the use of dreams and paintings Bronte hints at futureevents to come in the novelDREAMS AND PAINTINGS
  22. 22. Dreams• Dreams come from the subconscious part of our minds and are associated with our desires and our fears• In Jane Eyre dreams represent warnings and to foreshadow events to come• Jane mostly dreams of Thornfield in the novel and Rochester – her dreams both represent her fear of losing Rochester and her desire of Rochester
  23. 23. Jane’s dream after the fire in Chapter 15 • After the fire in Rochester‟s room Jane dreams of her spirit travelling towards Beulah but the wind prevents her from reaching it • “Sense would resist delirium: judgement would warn passion” (pg 133) – Here the dream almost acts as an warning that her passion for Rochester would ruin her spiritual and moral virtues
  24. 24. Jane’s dream before the wedding• A child cries in her arms on an unknown road, Rochester walks ahead of her. Jane tries to catch up with him but he ends up walking farther and farther away (chapter 25)• Here Jane is worried of losing Rochester• Perhaps this dream comes from her insecurities
  25. 25. Jane’s dream in Chapter 27• In a dream the moon appears as a goddess like figure and advices Jane to “flee temptation” of Thornfield• This is supernatural-like as the moon poses as a warning• By the end of the chapter Jane flees Thornfield
  26. 26. Paintings• Paintings can represent our desires, and like dreams, paintings come from the subconscious part of the mind• Jane is an avid painter• Rochester even says that she “exist[s] in a kind of artist‟s dreamland” (chapter 13)
  27. 27. The sinking shipChapter 13• In Jane‟s portfolio there is a painting of a half-sunken ship. There is a large bird sitting on the mast of the ship, in the bird‟s beak there is a golden, bejewelled bracelet. The bracelet has come from a drowned corpse which is sinking with only an arm visible above the water• Jane herself is associated with birds throughout the novel, so maybe the painting could be a hint to Jane‟s future fortunes
  28. 28. Polar LandscapeChapter 13• Jane‟s third portfolio painting is of a polar landscape, it illustrates an iceberg and the northern lights, but the foreground is of a huge head. There are hands drawing away a veil to reveal “a brow quite bloodless, white as bone, and an eye hollow and fixed, blank of meaning but for the glassiness of despair” The head in the painting also wears a crown of white flame.• The iceberg: cold, jagged, sharp, lonely• Veil: marriage, death• The landscape itself is barren and lonely mirroring Jane‟s mood at her time at Lowood
  29. 29. Rochester on the mindChapter 21• At her stay at Gateshead Jane paints a portrait of a man, subconsciously she is drawing a portrait of Rochester• Jane emphasises his strength, determination and spirit in the portrait• But Georgiana only sees an „ugly man‟
  30. 30. Religion was still a big part of Victorian Society, and religion plays abig part in the novel.RELIGION
  31. 31. There are many religious figures in „Jane Eyre‟Even Jane herself can be considered as a religious figure
  32. 32. Mr Brocklehurst• Brocklehurst is a cold and wicked character in the novel• Though he is charitable as he gives money to the school (Lowood) it seems that he could be more giving, he is also seen to be hypercritical as his family are lavished in fine clothing• When we first met Brocklehurst Bronte describes him as “a black pillar” with a “grim face at the top was like a carved mask” (Pg 25)• And again he is described as being “black marble” (pg 56) when he punishes Jane at Lowood• These descriptions of Mr Brocklehurst make him seem cold, evil, two-faced and emotionless
  33. 33. St.John• Another religious figure in the novel who is presented negatively is St.John• St.John is described as being cold and emotionless• “Statue” “ivory” (pg304) –beautiful yet cold• “marble kisses or ice kisses” (pg352)• Before St.John proposes a second time, he reads a passage from the bible about hell etc, this is very manipulative of St.John as he is trying to influence Jane‟s decision.• He also doesn‟t want to marry out of love; he wants Jane as a wife to serve him and accompany him on pilgrimages
  34. 34. Helen• Helen: Jane‟s friend, is can be seen almost as a martyr figure• At Lowood Helen takes many punishments, yet doesn‟t rebel, here she is almost Christ-like• Helen quotes from the bible to Jane in her times of doubt, almost like a teacher. She also speaks of Heaven and this life being less important which could be interpreted as lacking an appetite for life• Helen can be seen as a messianic figure, an example of this would be the chapter when Helen dies, and even the markings on Helen‟s grave „Resurgam‟ meaning „I will rise again‟ can be seen as Christ- like
  35. 35. Jane• Jane is a very moral character and shows all virtues of an Victorian Society• When Jane leaves Thornfield she seeks spiritual guidance; which she finds at the River cottage• Jane herself attends church later on in the novel when she stays with the Rivers.
  36. 36. Bronte’s comment on Religion• Through Jane, Bronte comments on certain aspects of Christianity. Bronte portrays nineteenth-century Evangelicalism as being negative by using the character Mr.Brocklehurst she shows the dangers and hypocrisy of Evangelicalism.• Mr.Brucklehurst is a cruel man who subjects the students to a harsh routine striping the students of their pride. His punishments can be humiliating and sometimes even un-Christian-like as we see with Jane‟s punishment and when he orders one of Jane‟s classmates hair to be cut as it is naturally curly.• St.John is another figure of religion that Bronte use to make certain comments.• St.John is concerned of his own Christian ambition, glory, and extreme self-importance; instead of being selfless he is rather self- obessed
  37. 37. Bronte’s comment on Religion• Though Jane rejects the „three faces of religion‟ (Mr.Brucklehurst, St.John and Helen) towards the end of the novel she finds her own „middle ground‟• However: Bronte is NOT saying that Christianity is „bad‟ as Bronte herself (and Jane) are both Christians.• By the end of the novel Jane is neither hateful or oppressive as the male religious figures in the novel illustrate; instead Jane embraces the world, learns how to love without sacrificing herself and shows complete faith in God.
  38. 38. Pathetic Fallacy is used throughout the novel to reflect differentthemes, moods and foreshadows events to come.NATURE
  39. 39. Birds• Jane is associated with birds, Bronte uses bird imagery to reflect Jane‟s mood• Birds themselves are associated with freedom, vulnerability, beauty and the need to soar/be free• Rochester is also described as a bird in chapter 24 “a royal eagle, chained to a perch, should be forced to entreat a sparrow to become its purveyor” (pg 389) – the imagery here is used to reflect Rochester‟s injury• In chapter 28 Bronte uses bird imagery to reflect Jane‟s broken heart “impotent as a bird with both wings broken” (pg 286)• St.John describes Jane as being a “half-frozen bird” (pg 308) when they take her in
  40. 40. Moonlight• Moonlight is a reoccurring part of nature and associated with warnings, the gothic, the supernatural, women and madness• At the night Bertha attacks Mr Mason there is a full moon• Before Rochester‟s proposal his shadow is cast by moonlight – hiding his true identity• And before Jane leaves Thornfield she dreams of a moon-goddess who warns her to “flee temptation”
  41. 41. The Chestnut tree• The same night Rochester proposes to Jane, in chapter 23, the chestnut tree in which he proposes under is struck by lightening and “half of it [is] spilt away” (pgs 219-226) – the lightening here is used to hint that their love is temporary and not meant to last• This type of freak weather/ natural disasters are associated with Bertha Mason as it is described in chapter 27 when Rochester talks of her decent into madness
  42. 42. Weather• In the opening of the novel there is a “cold winter wind” with “clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating” (chapter 1) –reflecting Jane‟s miserable and lonely mood• At her arrival to Lowood there is “rain, wind, and darkness filled the air” – the weather both reflects Jane‟s mood and foreshadows events to come• Jane even says in chapter 24 “Nature must be gladsome when I am so happy” (pg 226) –here Jane is aware that her mood affects her surroundings, Bronte is also being playful here
  43. 43. Thornfield• Thornfield is rather wild as roses are growing up the side of the building, the wildness reflects Rochester‟s character and neglect• Thornfield is isolated, surrounded by countryside however there is little life as we see in chapter 12 when Jane goes ventures out the grounds• The estate has its own garden with dark green trees, wild strawberries, ripening fruit, gooseberry-trees and other flowers etc. The garden has almost „Eden-like‟ qualities as it is filled with temptation and ripe fruits such as cherries and strawberries
  44. 44. Ferndean• Fearndean is hidden like how Rochester is hiding whilst in recovery “thick and dark...gloomy wood about it”• There is a lot of green surrounding Ferndean which is very natural and has healing properties• At Ferndean Rochester makes a great recovery, Jane even comments that he is “green and vigorous. Plants will grow about your roots”(pg 393-394)• Ferndean, unlike Thornfield, is natural and warm and not pretentious• Ferndean is of great importance as it is where Jane and Rochester settle down to live at the end of the novel
  45. 45. Lowood’s garden• When sickness is spreading in Lowood, the strict regimes and rules are less oppressive and the children get to venture out onto the grounds and the garden• The garden at Lowood represents independence, freedom, childhood and appetite for life• The garden is used almost to show Jane‟s transformation to a young woman• “glowed with flowers: hollyhocks has sprung up tall as trees, lilies has opened, tulips and roses were in bloom” (pg 65) –roses and lilies: flowers associated with female beauty
  46. 46. Binary opposites are quite dominant in the novel, there is a clearsense of divide socially and within the characters. In Jane Eyrethere are characters, such as Jane, who are passionate and warm;then there are characters who are cold like St.John and Mrs ReedFIRE VS ICE
  47. 47. Characters associated with Ice• Mrs Reed: Mrs Reed is emotionally distant and cold towards Jane, in the earlier part of the novel Jane describes her gaze as being „freezingly fixed‟• Mr.Brucklehurst: described as being „black marble‟ and is cold and oppresses the students at Lowood.• St.John: St.John is associated with cold and lifeless objects such as when Jane first meets St.John she describes him as being like a „statue‟: an object that is beautiful yet cold. A few chapters on Jane then describes St.John as an „automaton‟ (a robot) suggesting that he is heartless, stiff and lacking any human emotion.
  48. 48. Characters associated with Fire• Jane: Jane herself is a passionate character and even rebellious. She is drawn to other passionate/fiery characters in the novel• Rochester: Rochester, like Jane, is passionate and there are many associations with Rochester and fire. In chapter 25 on pg.136 there is a “strange fire in his look” just after the fire in his bedroom. On pg.280 Rochester is said to have a “flaming glance” showing his passionate side, here Jane is trying to resist him as she feels “powerless as stubble exposed to the draught and glow of a furnace”• Bertha: Bertha represents the danger in „playing with fire‟ as fire imagery is used to represent jealousy, anger, danger, destruction and warning. In chapter 15 Bertha tries to kill Rochester by setting his bed on fire, and she eventually burns down Thornfield: killing herself and injuring Rochester.• Mrs Fairfax: there is a warm, inviting fire in Mrs Fairfax‟s room on Jane‟s arrival