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Victorian Age Elements in Jane Eyre. Tannon Yu Jonathan Jackson Khalid Yusuf Devin Will Kelechi Iwuanyanwu. Questions. 1. What in Jane Eyre is symbolic to the Romantic Movement? 2. True or False : Thornfield Hall is a Gothic symbol?

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victorian age elements in jane eyre
Victorian Age Elements in Jane Eyre

Tannon Yu Jonathan Jackson Khalid Yusuf Devin Will


  • 1. What in Jane Eyre is symbolic to the Romantic Movement?
  • 2. True or False : Thornfield Hall is a Gothic symbol?
  • 3. Jane’s rejection of St. John’s proposal is similar to her rejection of ____________________.
  • 4. At what age does the narrative of Jane’s life begin?
  • 5. How do dreary settings contribute to the Victorian elements of the novel?
the prompt
The Prompt
  • Discuss the Victorian Age of Jane Eyre and how this novel exemplifies many of the qualities of Romantic literature. The presence of supernatural elements, emotional connections, individual journeys, and idealistic attitudes make the Romantic elements easy to spot in this piece of Victorian literature. Dreary settings and a brooding male protagonist also establish the foundations on which many Gothic novels were set.
  • The prompt is asking us to explain how common literary elements from Victorian Age novels are present in Jane Eyre.
how i t relates
How It Relates
  • Jane Eyre was published in 1847, ten years after the beginning of the Victorian Age.
  • Jane Eyre is therefore characterized by several qualities of Romantic literature.
    • Jane’s individual journey
    • Dreary settings (Lowood, sometimes Thornfield)
    • A brooding male protagonist (Mr. Rochester)
    • Supernatural Elements
significant moment 1 gateshead
Significant Moment 1 - Gateshead
  • “How dare I? Because it is the truth” (Brontë 41).
  • Jane stands up to Mrs. Reed after being humiliated in front of Mr. Brocklehurst. The Victorian/Romantic era encouraged rebellion, especially when concerning justice and individual rights. Jane’s actions result in a sense of triumph for her and an establishment of Jane as a Romantic protagonist.
significant moment 2 lowood
Significant Moment 2 - Lowood

The institution of Lowood as a whole is symbolic to the Romantic Movement. An educational academy for women, Lowood teaches its students more than just the traditional duties of what was then perceived as the separate sphere for women. Subjects normally reserved for men such as mathematics and science were taught to Jane. The most significant moment of Jane’s life in the institute was when Helen Burns died of typhus fever. Helen was symbolic to romanticism as the ideal female intellect, with religious fervor and faith to Christianity, and knowledge outside the bounds of women’s traditional roles.

significant moment 3 thornfield
Significant Moment 3 - Thornfield
  • “The front was, as I had once seen it in a dream, but a shell-like wall, very high and very fragile-looking, perforated with paneless windows: no roof, no battlements, no chimneys—all had crashed in” (Brontë 512).
  • Jane returns to Thornfield Hall from Moor House only to find it demolished. Thornfield Hall itself is a Gothic symbol, as many Victorian novels took place in either castles or large country manors. It featured a secret area in which Bertha was hidden (the theme of hidden passageways/rooms) and is destroyed (the theme of decline from former greatness.)
significant moment 4 moorshead
Significant Moment 4 - Moorshead

Lastly, Jane’s rejection of St. John’s proposal is, similar to her rejection of Rochester, another pivotal moment in the novel. Although it was not uncommon for first cousins to marry, it was rarely out of romantic love, which was what Jane was seeking. This practice was common in the Classic Age, but Romantics often rejected this. Seeing that St. John only wanted to marry her for stability and not out of passion, and because she did not feel any romance towards him, Jane’s rejection of his proposal is again symbolic of Romantic ideals. Ironically, however, the character of St. John is a symbol in and of itself of romanticism, and Jane’s rejection of him may reflect Brontë’s own disagreement with some of the ideas involved in the Romantic Movement.

jane s individual journey
Jane’s Individual Journey
  • The novel is a narrative told from Jane’s point of view. It relates the events of her life from when she was ten years old to when she is about thirty.
  • “We parted finally at the door of the Brocklehurst Arms there… I mounted the vehicle which was to bear me to new duties and a new life in the unknown environs of Millcote” (Brontë 84-5).
  • At this point in the novel, Jane is leaving Lowood Institution to seek a new life at Thornfield Hall. This is similar to many other parts of the novel in which she makes a transition from one place and lifestyle to another.
dreary settings
Dreary Settings
  • “That forest-dell, where Lowood lay, was the cradle of fog and fog- bred pestilence; which, quickening with the quickening spring, crept into the Orphan Asylum, breathed typhus through its crowded schoolroom and dormitory, and, ere May arrived, transformed the seminary into an hospital. ” (Brontë78).
  • Dreary settings contribute to the Victorian and Gothic elements in the novel by serving as a reflection of the oppression faced by women in the mid-nineteenth century. The settings of Lowood and Thornfield particularly are often portrayed as having recurring snow or rainstorms.
brooding male protagonist
Brooding Male Protagonist
  • “He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and thwarted just now; he was past youth, but had not reached middle-age; perhaps he might be thirty-five” (Brontë 119).
  • The brooding male protagonist of the novel is clearly Mr. Edward Rochester. He wishes to erase his past, in a society where divorce is highly frowned upon, and continue his life. Rochester’s status as a wealthy gentlemen contributes to his image as a typical Victorian era gentlemen, who typically had powerful roles in society, which is seen through his tendency to order people around, including his love interest, Jane.
supernatural elements
Supernatural Elements
  • There are numerous examples of supernatural elements in Jane Eyre, including Jane’s experiences in the Red Room at Gateshead, her perception of Rochester’s horse as the Gytrash, and Jane’s hearing Rochester’s voice while at Moorshead.
  • “I saw nothing, but I heard a voice somewhere cry— ‘Jane! Jane! Jane!’— nothing more” (401).
  • Jane hears Rochester’s voice calling her name during a conversation with St. John, and Rochester hints that he heard her response despite being miles apart.
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
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