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Jane Eyre


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JANE EYRE -1847 - Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre

  1. 1. JANE EYRE -1847 Charlotte Brontë “ The writer has us by the hand, forces us along her road, makes us see what she sees, never leaves us for a moment or allows us to forget her. At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Brontë.” Virginia Woolf, British novelist
  2. 2. DISCUSS: <ul><li>The relations between men and women </li></ul><ul><li>The treatment of children and of women </li></ul><ul><li>Religious faith and religious hypocrisy </li></ul><ul><li>The realization of selfhood </li></ul><ul><li>The nature of love </li></ul><ul><li>Gothic features </li></ul><ul><li>Fairy tale aspect </li></ul>
  3. 3. Structure: <ul><li>Narrative: written in the first person, and told from the viewpoint of its main character, Jane Eyre. </li></ul><ul><li>Bront ë uses one of the oldest conventions in English fiction: the novel is supposed to be a memoir written by a real woman named Jane Eyre and edited by Currer Bell (Charlotte’s pseudonym). </li></ul><ul><li>The story is told in retrospect -> the action is not happening as it is being told, but has already happened. </li></ul><ul><li>The narrator in Jane Eyre describes other characters, both their external appearance and their inner personalities. There are also passages in which the narrator offers particular observations and opinions about life -> Yet the novel's suspense relies on the fact that the narrator is not entirely omniscient—or at least on the fact that she does not reveal key information until the point in the chronology of events when Jane herself became aware of this information. </li></ul>
  4. 4. 3 distinct parts: each of these parts traces a pattern of conflict and (partial) resolution. Jane is faced with particular obstacles and opportunities in her effort to find or establish a true home. <ul><li>1- Chapters 1 through 10 -> cover Jane's childhood and schooling. The major characters include Mrs. Reed and her children, Mr. Brocklehurst, Helen Burns, and Miss Temple. The main conflicts and incidents include Jane's rebellion against Mrs. Reed and her friendship with Helen. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>2- Chapters 11 through 27 -> tell of Jane's life as a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with Rochester. Besides Jane, Mr. Rochester is the central character in this section. Mrs. Fairfax, Adele, Blanche Ingram, Grace Poole, Bertha Mason, and Mr. Mason also have significant roles. The dramatic action in this section centers on Jane's growing love for Mr. Rochester (and vice versa), Jane's fear that Rochester will marry Blanche, and a series of strange incidents that occur at Thornfield. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>3- Chapters 28 through the end of the book -> center on Jane's life after she has fled Thornfield. The action takes place in the countryside and at Moor House and Moorton. The Reverend St. John Rivers is the other main character here, together with his two sisters. Rochester’s presence remains significant in Jane's mind. Dramatic highlights in this part of the novel include Jane's attempt to find shelter, her uneasy relationship with Rivers, and her return to Mr. Rochester </li></ul>
  7. 7. Setting <ul><li>The action of the book takes place in northern England sometime in the early− to mid−nineteenth century, and covers a span of about 12 years. </li></ul><ul><li>Bront ë uses a succession of several main settings—primarily, individual houses—for the plot's action. </li></ul><ul><li>The narrator describes the settings vividly, thereby creating a particular atmosphere as well as giving the illusion of realism. </li></ul><ul><li>Setting is used in a way that gives the novel structural unity and variety. Each setting or grouping of settings corresponds with a distinct phase of Jane Eyre's life. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Gateshead Hall -> Jane’s childhood at her aunt’s home. </li></ul><ul><li>Lowood Institution -> a charity school for impoverished orphans: she gets a profession. </li></ul><ul><li>Thornfield Hall -> meets Rochester, her twin soul. </li></ul><ul><li>Moors House (Marsh End)-> finds a new family </li></ul><ul><li>Ferndean Manor-> a full life with Rochester </li></ul>
  9. 9. Gothic features <ul><li>Jane Eyre presents many of the elements found in the Gothic genre popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and critics sometimes place the work in the Gothic tradition. </li></ul><ul><li>Characteristics of gothic literature -> impressive and exaggerated language, bizarre characters and melodramatic incidents. Menacing castles, decaying manor houses, and wild landscapes. The plots contain an element of the fantastic or the supernatural. There is usually a mood of mystery or suspense, and an innocent heroine is almost always threatened with some unspeakable horror. Additionally, unexplained events take place at night. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>The gothic hero: has led an adventurous, unconventional life that makes him romantically attractive, but who also has a flaw (usually a terrible secret from his past) that cuts him off from respectable society or makes him socially unacceptable. </li></ul><ul><li>Lord Byron -> a model for the Gothic hero. Rochester: “Byronic hero” </li></ul><ul><li>Rochester: round character-> # from a stereotype (only the circumstances are gothic) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Coincidence: a device for advancing a novel’s plot. <ul><li>During the Victorian period, the use of coincidence for this purpose was very common, even among the greatest writers. It was an accepted literary convention of the period. Dickens and Hardy used it a lot in their works. </li></ul><ul><li>Several critics consider it a weakness in the novel. </li></ul><ul><li>2 important ones: Mason being in touch with Jane’s uncle in Madeira -> leads to the impediment of Jane’s and Rochester’s marriage </li></ul><ul><li>The second one concerns the way that Jane receives her inheritance and learns that the Riverses are her cousins. </li></ul><ul><li>Both these coincidences strain the reader's credibility, yet they are necessary in order to drive important developments in the plot. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Symbolism and imagery <ul><li>Imagery: nature and the English countryside (one of the romantic premises) -> used to suggest the characters' moral condition and state of mind. </li></ul><ul><li>Numerous references to weather and to the sky, in the form of storms, rain, clouds, and sun. At the very opening of the novel, Jane sets the scene by mentioning that &quot;the cold winter wind&quot; had brought with it &quot;clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>The moon, too, appears frequently. There is a full moon on the night when Bertha attacks her brother, as there is on the night when Jane flees Thornfield. Later, St. John Rivers reads his Bible in the moonlight. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Tree imagery: more significant -> development of the passion of Rochester and Jane Eyre takes place among trees—in an orchard, an arbor, woods, a “leafy enclosure”. </li></ul><ul><li>Shortly after Jane has agreed to marry Rochester, he tells her that she looks &quot;blooming.&quot; After their wedding is interrupted, &quot;the woods which twelve hours since waved leafy and fragrant. . . now spread, waste, wild and white as pine−forests in wintry Norway.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Ferndean is hidden by the &quot;thick and dark . . .timber . . . of the gloomy wood about it.&quot; Jane arrives there, she also notes that &quot;there were no flowers, no garden−beds.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>On their reunion, Rochester tells Jane that &quot;I am no better than the old lightening−struck chestnut−tree in Thornfield orchard.&quot; Jane retorts </li></ul><ul><li>that, on the contrary, he is &quot;green and vigorous,&quot; and tells him that &quot;plants will grow about your roots . . . because your strength offers them so safe a prop.“ (Mark Shorer) </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Fire: passion, destruction, purification -> Rochester </li></ul><ul><li>Water: rain, coldness-> St. John Rivers (water in ice form) </li></ul><ul><li>The red-room: imprisonment and exile. Jane’s struggle to find freedom, happiness and sense of belonging </li></ul><ul><li>Bertha: the confined Victorian wife </li></ul><ul><li>Foreshadowing: the burnt chestnut tree, the torn veil-> separation. </li></ul><ul><li>Rochester leaning on Jane: he needs her </li></ul>
  15. 15. Names significance <ul><li>Jane Eyre: ethereal quality -> an elf, a free spirit. </li></ul><ul><li>Helen Burns: hidden anger and rebellion. Red hair. </li></ul><ul><li>Rochester: a stony place. A contrast to Jane </li></ul><ul><li>Blanche: ironic name for a dark beauty-> whiteness connected to her clothes, not her actions or skin colour </li></ul><ul><li>St. John: Jane’s savior. St. John is clearly linked to St. John the Apostle. The New Testament's final book of Revelation ends with the words, &quot;Come, Lord Jesus.&quot; St. John Rivers' final letter to Jane ends the novel with these same words -> religiousness, self-sacrifice </li></ul>
  16. 16. Characters <ul><li>Jane: narrator, central character, and heroine of the novel </li></ul><ul><li># from the Gothic stereotype of the submissive woman in distress. </li></ul><ul><li>Physically plain, acutely intelligent and fiercely independent. She is also a shrewd judge of character. She relies on her intelligence and determination to achieve self-fulfillment. </li></ul><ul><li>Not immune to suffering: keenly aware of the difference between how things are and how they might be. Jane believes that &quot;we were born to strive and endure”. </li></ul><ul><li>Passionate, but she also recognizes the dangers of uncontrolled passion. Although she is rebellious when rebellion is called for, she is inherently conscious that actions must be tempered by reason. </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Mr. Rochester : the central male character and hero (or perhaps antihero) in Jane Eyre . </li></ul><ul><li>A wealthy landowner, the master of Thornfield Hall. He is described as having &quot;a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow&quot; and is not considered handsome: # from a conventional hero -> J ane falls in love with him because of she recognizes something good in his soul. </li></ul><ul><li>His treatment of his insane wife may seem cruel by modern standards, but in his eyes it is the best that can be done for her and is preferable to abandoning her. He also takes care of Adele. </li></ul><ul><li>His past is full of reproachable actions (at least according to the Victorian patterns of behavior): he hides his mad wife, he takes mistresses. </li></ul><ul><li>His relationship with Jane springs from a different motive: he recognizes Jane for what she is, and realizes that he can find salvation in her love. However, in knowingly planning to enter into a bigamous marriage, and then suggesting that she become his mistress, he transgresses moral law -> he must lose Jane and suffer punishment and penance (in the form of losing his eyesight and his right hand, as well as his home) by fire before Jane can be fully restored to him. His marriage to Jane is the meeting of true minds, a marriage without secrets or locked doors. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Bertha Mason: the insane wife of Rochester who has been hidden away in an attic room at Thornfield Hall -> otherness, uncivilized, monstrous, fallen. </li></ul><ul><li>She appears on only a few pages of the book and never speaks. Her Gothic existence is felt long before it is revealed. </li></ul><ul><li>More a symbol than a character: she may be an embodiment of violence, unbridled sexuality, or the animal nature that lies behind the veil of civilization -> Rochester's dark side and Jane's darker double. </li></ul><ul><li>Functions as an impediment to Jane's marriage to Rochester. </li></ul><ul><li>Her death when she sets fire to Thornfield results in terrible injury to Rochester; but this action sets up Jane's return and Rochester's redemption. </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>St. John Rivers: A handsome young clergyman who is the brother of Diana and Mary Rivers; St. John also turns out to be Jane's cousin. </li></ul><ul><li>He has &quot;a reserved, an abstracted, and even . . . a brooding nature&quot;; he is also restless and does not feel at home in England. </li></ul><ul><li>St. John is intelligent, austere, cold, inflexible and is unable to appreciate Jane for herself; he would lead her into a life (and death) of martyrdom. In this, he is a complete contrast to the passionate Rochester. </li></ul><ul><li>He persistently asks Jane to marry him and accompany him to India as a missionary, an offer she declines because she realizes that the marriage would be loveless. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Themes <ul><li>1)Love and passion: The love between the orphaned and initially impoverished Jane and the wealthy but tormented Rochester. </li></ul><ul><li>Jane: a life that is not lived passionately is not lived fully. </li></ul><ul><li>Other kinds of love: Helen Burns exemplifies the selfless love of a friend. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of love: Mrs. Reed and Jane, Rochester and Bertha, St. John and Jane, Blanche and Rochester </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>2)Independence: Jane Eyre is not only a love story -> also a plea for the recognition of the individual's worth. </li></ul><ul><li>Jane demands to be treated as an independent human being, a person with her own needs and talents. </li></ul><ul><li>Gateshead and Lowood: punished for being herself. </li></ul><ul><li>Her defiance of Mrs. Reed is her first active declaration of independence. Helen Burns and Miss Temple are the first characters to acknowledge her as an individual, they love her for herself, in spite of her obscurity. </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Rochester too loves her for herself; the fact that she is a governess and therefore his servant does not negatively affect his perception of her. </li></ul><ul><li>Rochester’s ideal woman: intellectual, faithful, and loving -> qualities that Jane embodies. </li></ul><ul><li>Contrast: Blanche and Lady Ingram see her merely as a servant. </li></ul><ul><li>St. John Rivers does not regard Jane as a full, independent person. Rather, he sees her as an instrument, an accessory that would help him to further his own plans. </li></ul><ul><li>Her marriage to Rochester is the marriage of two independent beings -> i t is because of their independence, Bronte suggests, that they acknowledge their dependence on each other and can be completely happy with one another in this situation. </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>3) God and religion: throughout the novel, the author presents contrasts between characters who believe in and practice what she considers a true Christianity and those who pervert religion to further their own ends: </li></ul><ul><li>Mr. Brocklehurst -> a hypocritical Christian. He professes charity but uses religion as a justification for punishment. </li></ul><ul><li>Helen Burns is a complete contrast to Brocklehurst; she follows the Christian creed of turning the other cheek and loving those who hate her. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>Jane -> not like Helen, but she is sincerely religious in a non-doctrinaire way. Jane frequently prays and calls on God to assist her, particularly in her trouble with Rochester. She prays too that Rochester is safe. </li></ul><ul><li>St. John Rivers is a more conventionally religious figure, but somehow ambiguous: he’s a good man, but cold and forbidding. In his determination to do good deeds (in the form of missionary work in India), Rivers courts martyrdom. Moreover, he is unable to see Jane as a whole person, but views her as a helpmate in his proposed missionary work. </li></ul><ul><li>Rochester -> a sinner: mistresses, bigamy. In the end however, he repents his sinfulness, thanks God for returning Jane to him, and begs God to give him the strength to lead a purer life. </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>4) Search for Home and Family: Jane searches for a place that she can call home -> houses play a prominent part in the story </li></ul><ul><li>Gateshead, Lowood -> frustrated attempts </li></ul><ul><li>Jane believes she has found a home at Thornfield Hall. The revelation that he is already legally married brings her dream of home crashing down. </li></ul><ul><li>Fleeing Thornfield, she literally becomes homeless and is reduced to begging for food and shelter. </li></ul><ul><li>Moor House -> t he opportunity of finding a home and a family (her uncle in Madera died) </li></ul><ul><li>Rochester’s call -> an almost visionary episode, she hears Rochester's voice calling her to return to him. </li></ul><ul><li>The last chapter begins with the famous simple declarative sentence, &quot;Reader, I married him,&quot; and after a long series of trials and tribulations Jane's search for home and family ends in a union with her ideal mate. </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>5) Atonement and forgiveness: Rochester: tormented by his awareness of his past sins and misdeeds. Yet, at the same time, he makes genuine efforts to atone for his behavior -> takes care of Adele, expresses his self−disgust at having tried to console himself by having three different mistresses during his travels in Europe and begs Jane to forgive him for these past transgressions. </li></ul><ul><li>Rochester’s complete atone and forgiveness -> after Jane refused to be his mistress and left him. The destruction of Thornfield by fire finally removes the stain of his past sins; the loss of his right hand and of his eyesight is the price he must pay to atone completely for his sins. Only after this purgation he can be redeemed by Jane's love. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Rewritings <ul><li>Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) by Jean Rhys retells Brontë’s story from Bertha’s point of view. Rhys presents Bertha as a young woman married against her will. </li></ul><ul><li>The Four-Gated City (1965) by Doris Lessing, the heroine falls in love with her employer, whose mad wife lives in a cellar. Eventually, the heroine goes to live with the mad wife and experiences madness with her. </li></ul>