The Role of Fear In Jane Eyre By Charlotte Brontë Giuseppe Vargas Joseph Gutierrez Peng Liu Muñoz, Period 7 October 23, 2012
The Role of Fear? Within the story of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë expertly utilizes fear as a motive for certain charaters’ actions and inactions; the role of fear is that of a catalyst, pushing the story ever forward.
Fear and Diction Diction is Brontë’s main method of portraying a character’s fear. Words with negative connotations, such as “fright” and “horror”, contribute greatly to the feeling of fear.
Quote 1 “I can now conjecture readily that this streak of light was, in all likelihood, a gleam from a lantern carried by some one across the lawn; but then, prepared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world” (Brontë 12).
Fear and Imagery Brontë also uses words more subtle than “horror” to plant fearful images within the reader’s mind. By adding organic imagery, hers being often associated with death, the can reader can see the fear.
Quote 2 “I must dip my hand again and again in the basin of blood and water, and wipe away the trickling gore. I must see the light of the unsnuffed candle wane on my employment; the shadows darken on the wrought, antique tapestry round me, and grow black under the hangings of the vast old bed, and quiver strangely over the doors of a great cabinet opposite” (Brontë 224).
Creating Scenes of Fear The combination of both diction and imagery results in unnerving scenes in which either an ominous mood settles over everything or an apprehensive and suspenseful tone chills the reader. Brontë’s skillful use of fear in her writing is especially apparent in these scenes.
Quote 3 “Just at my bedside the figure stopped: the fiery eyes glared upon me – she thrust up her candle close to my face, and extinguished it under my eyes. I was aware her lurid visage flamed over mine, and I lost consciousness: for the second time in my life – only the second time – I became insensible from terror” (Brontë 306).
Effects of Fear There are quite a few scenes in which Jane Eyre is wracked by fits of fear; the short-term effect on her is usually debilitating and harmful. Her state of mind changes, and she perceives events from a perspective that she might not have had otherwise.
Other Effects of Fear Despite the negative short-term effects, the fear that Jane Eyre, among other characters, endures alters her path in life, and not always for worse. Fear, like many trials of spirit, can improve on one’s character and integrity.
Quote 4 “I dreamt I lay in the red-room at Gateshead; that the night was dark, and my mind impressed with strange fears. The light long ago had struck into me syncope, recalled in this vision, seemed glidingly to mount the wall, and tremblingly to pause in the centre of the obscured ceiling.” (Brontë 345).
Sources Cited • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Eyre • http://www.frostfriends.org/imagery.html • http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/fear