Questions for study with ideas for answers
Q: First and foremost, ‘Jane Eyre’ is a romantic story. What are the
ingredients to support this?
The main theme of the story is that love conquers all.
The first part of the book deals with the hardships suffered by Jane, and
the reader wants her to fall in love and be happy ever after. This is, of course, what happens, but in between, Jane has to overcome the following:-
Her plainness, in particular her small stature
The man she loves is married and this is Victorian England
She is an orphan and is of low social status
The man she loves is her employer, and is many years older than her
She has had strict Christian morals instilled in her, and she cannot be with
the man she loves outside marriage
Can you come up with similar barriers for Rochester?
Q: Bront' uses Gothic themes and symbolism throughout the book. Please
illustrate some of these.
There are many references to blood and death. This starts early on in
the book when Jane is confined in the red room of Sarah Reed’s home. This was where Sarah’s husband had died.
It is difficult for us to appreciate the effects death has on Jane, as most
of us are not exposed to it, but at Lowood School death was a far-too-common occurrence, and Jane is exposed to the deaths of her classmates through typhus and consumption.
In fact Helen Burns dies while sharing the same bed as Jane.
Reference is made to the appearance of Bertha in Jane’s room as being like a
vampire. The clear symbolism here is that she is sucking the life out of Rochester, and the love out of Jane and Rochester’s relationship.
We have the actual physical attack by Bertha on Mason where she stabs and
bites him causing him to bleed profusely, and Jane has to stem the flow.
You will recall on the eve of Jane’s marriage that she saw a blood-red
There is also the image of the chestnut tree being struck by lightning,
which has been covered in the Interpretation.
There are supernatural elements such as wailing, voices in the dark, and the
general Gothic scenery of the wild country in North England.
These are only a few examples. How many more can you find?
Q: The Bront' sisters were renowned for their poetry and ‘Jane
Eyre’ has two main poems. One is early on in Chapter 3 and the other is in Chapter 24. If you think these are more than mere embellishments, please expand.
The first poem or song is sung to Jane by Bessie in an attempt to cheer her
up. It concerns a poor orphan child, and it is obviously a commentary on the plight of orphans in Victorian England.
The only hope that the poem gives is in the last line, which states “God is a friend to the poor orphan child.” Unfortunately, it has the reverse effect on Jane, and she bursts into tears. She does not wish to be a poor orphan child. She wants to be part of the family at Gateshead Hall, but they have all rejected her. The well-meaning Bessie has only made matters worse, and Jane remarks that she has sung the poem as if it was a funeral hymn.
The second poem or song runs to 12 verses, and it is sung by Rochester to
Jane. This is a much more romantic scene, but again there are hints contained in the lines concerning what will happen later on in the story. It is a clear indication that Rochester is determined to
obtain some happiness.
He states in the song that he defies the omens and is impetuous to achieve his aim of happiness i.e. marriage to Jane, even though this is bigamy. In a way, the whole poem mirrors the plot of the book from the time Jane arrives at Thornfield. It mentions that the truest love is first kindled, and then it increases to a tide of love. Bearing this in mind, the reader should go over this poem again. As Rochester sings this song, he clearly thinks that the last 2 verses will be fulfilled in the near future. However, due to his impetuousness there are many tragedies in store before the last verse is fulfilled,
“My love has sworn, with sealing kiss
with me to live – to die;
I have at last my nameless bliss:
As I love – loved am I!”