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Jane Eyre. Prompt.

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Jane Eyre

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  • Charlotte Bronte often creates suspense by declaring that something is a mystery or unexplainable. Search for related words and then see how these items are placed throughout the book. Does this create a pattern or rhythm? What occurrences line up the peaks and valleys of the motif? Some useful words may be puzzle, puzzled, mystery, mystication, conjecture, unknown, suspense.
    • a. what is the role of fear in the novel? Look for words such as fright, horror, terror, terrified, fear.
literal meaning
Literal Meaning
  • Observe how mystery- related words are placed throughout the novel and their contributions to pattern, rhythm, and the novel’s suspense as a whole. Essentially, it’s asking how the gothic part contributes to the novel.
relation to the novel
Relation to the Novel
  • Though Jane Eyre is not considered solely a gothic novel, Charlotte Bronte certainly employs the use of gothic elements throughout to add depth and meaning to Jane’s experiences. Among these elements are remote locations, mysteries, supernatural encounters, intricate family histories, secrets, and primordial manors, which add to the dark, mysterious mood and highlight the important moments in the plot.
jane s ambiguous family ties

“I explained to her that I had no parents. She inquired how long they had been dead; then how old I was, what was my name, ether I could read, write and sew a little” (Brontë36).

Jane’s ambiguous family ties

“for one thing I have no father or mother, brothers or sisters… I might have some poor, low relations called Eyre, but she knew nothing about them” (Brontë37).

Jane begins her story as an orphan who is raised in a wealthy family and her ambiguous social class motivates much of the internal tension and conflict throughout the novel. Jane’s father was a poor clergyman, while her mother was a middle class woman. As a couple they were both situated in two distinct social classes. This social ambiguity is their legacy to Jane as she occupies a undefined social position. Her malleable class status allows Jane to easily drift among the upper, middle and lower classes of Victorian England. Her mysterious family ties helps add to the overall obscure and mystical tone employed in Jane Eyre.


The madwomen in the attic

  • “In the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell: it groveled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face” (Brontë ).
  • Throughout Jane’s stay at Thornfield Manor she encounters strange laughs, screams and incomprehensible babbling echoing off the walls. The few times Jane comes face to face with Bertha Mason she is described as a ghostly apparition : gazing at Jane as she lies in bed or attempting to set fire to Rochester's bed. Bertha plays a significant role as she adds to the gothic elements surrounding Thornfeild and also adds an ambiguous and sinister aspect to Rochester's character which Jane must unravel. The climax of the novel occurs when Jane meets Bertha. Bronte uses descriptive adjectives like “groveled” “ growled” and “dark” to stress the inhuman and bestial characteristics attributed to Bertha. If it weren’t for “the madwomen in the attic "much of the eerie and mysterious atmosphere would not exist.
the mysterious laugh
The Mysterious Laugh
  • “ It was a curious laugh –distinct, formal, mirthless… for the laugh was as tragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard; and but that it was high noon, and that no circumstance of ghostliness accompanied the curious cachinnation; but that neither scene nor season favoured fear, I should have been superstiously afraid” (112).
  • Jane hearing Bertha’s laugh for the first time is significant because it foreshadows what is to come in the future. Although, Jane believes that it is just Grace Poole, she has no idea the laugh is something more.
pivotal moments
Pivotal Moments
  • “Hung with the curtains of deep red damask… the curtains were red, the table at the foot of the bed was covered in a crimson cloth”(8).
  • “ Mr. Reed had been dead nine years; it was in this chamber he breathed his last.” (9).
  • “All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: and the strange little figure there gazing at me with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear” (9).

The red room is a spare room that is all red. Mr. Reed died here, and when Jane is locked inside she sees a “ ghost”. The color red, death, cold, darkness, and a ghost all emphasize the supernatural elements present in the novel.

pivotal moments1
Pivotal Moments

“ I shuddered at the thought of Grace Poole bursting out upon me. I must keep my post, however, I must watch this ghastly countenance– these blue, still lips forbidden to unclose– these eyes now shut, now opening…” (Bronte 198)

Significance- Jane is watching Mr. Mason while Mr. Rochester went to fetch a surgeon. She is in terror thinking Grace Poole is a madwoman and will attack her, not knowing, that it is really Mr. Rochester’s wife, Bertha. It all creates a feeling of suspense.

pivotal moment
Pivotal Moment

“Mental terrors, sir! I wish I could believe them to be only such: I wish it more now than ever; since even you cannot explain to me mystery of that awful visitant.” (Bronte 270)—Jane’s thoughts

“And since I cannot do it, Jane, it must have been unreal.” (Bronte 270)—Mr. Rochester’s response

These two quotes are significant because Mr. Rochester tries to make Jane feel like she is losing her mind and Bertha Ripping the veil was just a dream; which in reality it actually took place. It struck ultimate fear into Jane’s heart and she could not wait to tell him about the dream. Although, he knew exactly who had done it, which was Bertha, he was still trying to keep her a secret at this time.

  • "Jane Eyre Notes on the Gothic Imagery Themes." BookRags. BookRags, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <>.
  • Brontë, Charlotte, Fritz Eichenberg, and Bruce Rogers. Jane Eyre. New York: Random House, 1943. Print.
  • "janeeyre." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <>.