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ENGLISH LITERATURE 1B: JANE EYRE → → ​ Topics ● Jane Eyre ○ About the novel

Jane Eyre

About the novel


Jane Eyre

Edward Rochester

Bertha Mason


Mr Brocklehurst

Helen Burns

Mrs Reed and Children



Gender roles




Morals and ethics


Secrecy and deception






Bronte​ w

rote the book​ to​ challenge ideas + stereotypes​ about:

Gender roles

Society and class



What it means to life a moral + happy life

Another reason​ for writing the novel Bronte’s father, Patrick ​was ​expected to die

Home was the​ church parsonage

Would be​ kicked out + have no place to live

Had to​ find a means to live​ after her father died

Ironic ​father outlived all the children

Influences From Bronte’s Life:

‘Jane Eyre’​ is​ not an autobiographical novel​ but is​ influenced substantially​ by​ Charlotte Brontë's own life

Brontë​ family moved​ to the ​Parsonage at Haworth in 1820

Harsh climate of the Yorkshire moors​ was ​familiar to Charlotte

After death of her mother, an ​aunt moved into the parsonage

Denied the warmth of a mother’s love​ has​ many surrogate mother figures​ in the novel

Seems to​ attach to her home life

Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge

Charlotte started​ there in ​1824,with ​Emily Brontë and her two older sisters.

Charlotte and Emily ​were ​brought home​ after Maria and Elizabeth died

Maria ​was a m

Charlotte stated that ​critics who saw the character as too good ​to be true were ​wrong,and that it was an ​imaginative but true portrait

odel for Helen Burns

Charlotte had ​worked as a governess

While ​studying in Brussels​, Charlotte became​ infatuated with M Heger,head of the Pensionnat Heger

Unattainable ​but desirable m

Influence on the creation of a ​romantic hero ​in her own writing Rochester in ‘Jane Eyre’


Charlotte stayed at Rydings​ (a country house) with her friend Ellen Nussey

Inspiration ​for the attractive ​features of Thornfield

Visited ​North Lees Hall Farm together property ​owned by the Bronte family

Contained a room with ​parallels to Bertha’s attic

Belonged to a​ mad woman

Killed in a fire​ in the 17th century



Jane Eyre is the​ protagonist of the novel​ story narrated by her

Novel focuses on her relationships ​with other characters and her​ character development

Bildungsroman novel​ explores Jane’s ​personal + moral development as she grows up

Passionate + strong willed​ even at a young age

Unusual ​at the time

Women + children expected to be​ modest + not hold/express strong feelings​ and emotions

Hard-working + keen ​to improve through learning

St.John admires her work ethic + ​‘unflagging energy’

Theme: Foreignness and Outsiders:

Afraid that she will ​never find a true sense of home​ or community

Jane feels the ​need to belong somewhere​, to find​ ‘kin’​ or at least ​‘kindred spirits’

Desire​ tempers her equally intense need for​ autonomy and freedom

In her search for freedom, Jane also struggles with the question of ​what type of freedom she wants


Offers Jane a chance to​ liberate her passions

Such freedom could also mean enslavement

Rochester’s mistress​ sacrificing her dignity and integrity​ for sake of her feelings

St. John Rivers

Offers Jane the freedom to ​act unreservedly on her principles

Opens the possibility of ​exercising her talents ​fully by​ working with him in India

Freedom would also constitute a ​form of imprisonment

Would be forced to keep ​her​ true feelings and her true passions always in check

Begins novel as an orphan ​living with aunt + cousins do not like her or take much notice of her

Feels ​ostracized + exiled

Think she is ​‘naughty​’ and passionate’

Even the ​servants ​have a ​‘bad opinion’​ of her

Tries to be good​ + keep out of trouble

Tormented ​by her cousins particularly John

Mr Brocklehurst​ tries to make ​Jane an outsider

Claims that Jane is a ​‘liar’

Thornfield ​caught between​ servants + upper-class guests

Doesn’t fit in ​with either group

Time as an outsider means ​she spends lots of time observing other people​ aids her narrative

Journey to Moor House

Jane is ​alone

No social status

Begs for food + ​nearly dies

Jane ​ends up with a family​ contrasts to Reeds

Jane has a ​strong desire to belong​ + become less of an outsider​ as​ novel progresses

Lowood ​things change as ​Jane makes friends ​with H

elen + Miss Temple ​looks after her

Endures poor conditions ​+ eventually becomes a teacher enables her to ​move on + become a governess

Thornfield ​has a ​family (Mr Rochester, Mrs Fairfax + Adele) but must leave them

Filled with ​‘sudden joy’​ when Jane finds out she is related to the Rivers family

Having ​relations ​is ​more important than the money​ she finds out about

Marries Rochester ​begin their​ own family

Theme: Conflicting Desires + Morality:

Passion vs self-control

Jane is ​passionate

deeply loves Mr Rochester​ + fights ​against sadness + jealousy​ when it

appears he might marry Blanche

Shocks St.John​ with her passionate ​‘unfeminine’​ words

Tries to be self-controlled​ manages to​ hide her feelings when questioned​ by the gypsy

Independence vs desire to belong

Can be ​independent ​+ isn’t afraid to ​stand up for herself

Rebels ​against the ​Reeds

Makes​ tough decisions​ to​ leave Mr. Rochester + St.John

Independence ​clashes w

ith her ​desire to belong ​ultimately ​returns to Rochester

Jane has strong ideas about right vs wrong

Knows she​ can’t become Rochester’s mistress ​after Bertha is revealed

Even though she is ​desperate to be with Rochester,she ​won’t go against her own principles

Caring ​tells Mr Rochester off for speaking unkindly about Bertha

Concerned for Blanche’s feelings after Mr Rochester rejects her

eg/ ​‘she cannot help being mad’

Forgives Mrs Reed​ on her deathbed offers her ​‘full and free forgiveness’

Keen to put right past wrongs​ + not dwell on bitterness

Contrasts to passionate​ behaviour as a child

Religious ​has ​strong Christian morals

Prepared to​ sacrifice her life + happiness​ for God and ​go to India

Ultimately her ​passion ​leads her back to Mr Rochester

Writing about Jane:

Strong willed

Even​ as a child

will​ assert herself ​when she ​believes she is right

eg/ How dare I, Mrs Reed? How dare? Because it is the truth’

Jane is ​prepared to argue with an adult​ and ​defend herself​, even as a child

Challenges child stereotypes

Children are ​meant to be seen but not heard

Not meant​ to have their ​own opinion disagree, answer back

Speech to Rochester​ highlights that despite ​social difference + different gender​, she believes they are​ ‘equal’

eg/ I have as much soul as you, and as full as much heart!’

Brushes aside ​‘conventionalities’​ and custom’

Instead talks about ​‘spirit’

Independent of spirit

In spite of being ​financially dependent​, has ​confidence in her own views

eg/ I care for myself. The more solitary , the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.’

Highlights ​Jane’s awareness

Highlights ​Jane’s determination to look after herself

Trusts her instincts

Rushes back to Thornfield in spite of only ‘​hearing’ Rochester’s voice

Shown to be ​right to do this​ Rochester is​ free to marry

Strong principles

eg/​ ‘my spirit [


is willing to do what is right

Demonstrates Jane’s ​determination to follow a moral path


Importance of Rochester:

Rochester is a​ ‘Byronic’ hero​ due to how he is presented by Bronte

Dark + brooding

Hidden depths and secrets

Determined and ​passionate

Represents Jane’s passionate and fiery side​ that​ she searches for

Equal to Jane ​in wit and intelligence

Worthy ​of her love

Represents the ​outside world ​that Jane has ​little experience in

Travelled ​the world

Brought up differently

Redemption ​as he saves people in the Thornfield fire

At the end he​ recognises and appreciates Jane’s true qualities

Rochester Through the novel:

Meets Jane​ during one of his rare visits to Thornfield Hall

Mostly ​abroad​, trying to ​forget the betrayal of his family​ and his ​miserable marriage​ to Bertha

Falls in love​ with Jane

Invites a​ party of guests to Thornfield,including ​Blanche Ingram

Everyone thought that ​Rochester will marry Ingram

Disguised as a fortune teller​ to find out more about Jane and how she feels about him

Proposes to Jane​ although his first wife ​Bertha is still alive

When this is discovered, he tries to ​persuade Jane to run away​ with him and ​be his mistress

Rescues servants from a fire​ at Thornfield caused by Bertha

Bertha dies​ in the fire

Rochester is blinded​ and loses one of his hands

Reunited with Jane​ when she returns and finds him at Ferndean Manor

They​ marry and later Rochester ​regains the sight ​of one eye

Enables him to​ see their son when he is born

Rochester’s Character Development:

Complex personality

Past and existence​ of his w

Empty lifestyle ​makes him ​more bitter

Love for Jane changes him​ back to the​ man he was

Even though the way he tried to​ marry her illegally is questionable

ife haunt him

Bronte wants to​ make her reader feel sympathy for him​ shown through his ​eventual redemption

He is ​allowed happiness​ after he has suffered and​ recognised the error of his ways

eg/ I began to see and acknowledge the hand of God in my doom. I began to experience remorse, repentance, the wish for reconcilement to my Maker’

He too ​turns to religion

His​ blind and crippled state​ is a ​metaphor for his ​loss of arrogance and pride

Worthy of the love​ Jane feels for him

Writing about Rochester:

He is clearly ​fascinated by Jane from the moment he meets her

He​ questions her closely ​at their second meeting

eg/ He searched my face with eyes that I saw were dark, irate, and piercing.’

There is a ​darkness and mystery ​about him, as well as some hidden danger

His ​past and present circumstances​ are a​ heavy burden to bear

Mrs Fairfax says that he has ​‘peculiarities of temper​’ that ​‘allowances should be made’ ​for ‘because he has painful thoughts’

Those around him ​indulge his irrational behaviour

He is ​haunted by his past ​and by the responsibility he has towards Bertha.

Still determined to find a way to marry Jane

His desperation to marry Jane makes him attempt to defy the law

‘Will I not guard, and cherish, and solace her? Is there not love in my heart, and constancy in my resolves? It will expiate at God’s tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I do.’

He​ attempts to save Bertha ​from the fire​ in spite of the misery ​she has caused him.

‘​It was all his own courage, and a body may say, his kindness, in a way, ma’am: he wouldn’t leave the house till everyone else was out before him.’

His actions in the fire ​redeem him from his previous moral conduct


Bronte uses​ imagery and symbolism ​to bring out her​ characters’ personalities

Fire ​is closely connected with the fiery and passionate Rochester

Contrasts with ​snow and ice imagery ​associated with the ​controlled St.John

The​ two men in Jane’s life ​could represent conflicting aspects of Jane’s character

Her ​eventual contentment​ comes from the way in which she ​reconciles these two aspects​ of her own personality

Key Quotation: Rochester’s Feelings for Jane

The​ strength of Rochester’s feelings ​for Jane are shown clearly when he speaks of the ​‘good and bright



fresh, healthy, without soil and without taint’​ clearly referring to Jane

Associates her with the​ natural world

Contrasted with the world of society​ that he inhibits


Importance of Bertha:

To challenge stereotypes​ about ​conventional beauty

To show ​treatment of women​ in the ​19th century

Foil to Jane

‘​I saw the reflection of the visage and features quite distinctly’

Mirror image​ of Jane

Relates to when ​Jane was locked in the Red Room​ scared of her own reflection

Physically a ​‘big woman’​ compared to​ ‘little’ Jane

Different temperaments

Mr Rochester says he couldn’t pass ​‘a single hour of the day’ w

Mr Rochester​ loves spending time ​with ​Jane

ith Bertha

Bertha shows reality of feelings​ Jane is​ too scared to show

Mr Rochester’s former wife kept secret ​from the reader until ​Jane’s wedding day

Story​ only told from perspective of Mr Rochester​ reader​ cannot be sure of Bertha’s true character

Doesn’t appear much + doesn’t speak

Mr Rochester ​says she was beautiful​, but after they got married she was​ ‘intemperate and unchaste’

Despite her madness, ​Bertha is still cunning​ knows how to​ get keys to escape

‘She’s so cunning’​ and ​‘it is not in mortal discretion to fathom her craft’

Witchcraft ​relates to​ tradition of persecuting women

Denying her cleverness

Subtle similarities ​between characters

eg/ Bertha fed a ​‘boiling mess’ ​in Thornfield relates to ​burnt porridge for Jane​ in ​Lowood

Bertha Mason’s Heritage + Marriage:

Complex family heritage

Half Creole, half English

Raised in ​Jamaica among​ British aristocrat​ part of family

Racial prejudice​ often described using ​animalistic/demonic imagery

eg/ snarling, snatching sound’

eg/ this was a demonic laugh’

eg/ goblin laughter’

Not part of one society ​or the other theme of​ foreignness and outsiders

Suffers from​ congenital insanity​ madness runs in her family

Rochester claims ​Bertha was young + promiscuous ​excesses ​brought on madness​ when she was young

Theme marriage

Marriage was arranged​ to Bertha her family was ​rich

Failure of their marriage ​is a clear argument​ against marrying for money

Rochester ​blames Bertha + family ​for being tricked into marriage makes people sympathise with him

Appearance and Characteristics:

‘A discoloured face’

‘A savage face’

‘Fearful and ghastly to me’

‘Roll of red eyes’

‘Fearful blackened inflation of the lineaments’ ​and​ ‘her mother, the Creole, was both a madwoman and a drunkard’

Mixed race​ racial prejudice

Jane has ​never seen someone mixed race

‘A woman, tall and large’​ and ​‘big woman’

Unconventional feminine attributes

Called​ ‘it’,‘beast or human being’​, and something at least human’


Not treated like a human

Possible ​justification for treatment

Extreme version​ of ​treatment of women​ at the time

Similarities + Differences Between Bertha + Jane:









Does not fit the​ English ‘norm’

No permanent home




Expresses sexuality​ to Rochester

Marooned in the attic,away from everyone


Fire ​Bronte shows ​potential dangers of leaving ​passion to be left uncontrolled

Air ​‘Jane Eyre’


Fire ​Helps reader understand strong feeling of passion​ in Jane Eyre

Represents ​unleashed, untamed passion ​without any control/reason

Fire imagery ​in the red room

‘deep red damask’

eg/ torches the bed curtains

‘rose high’​ (play on words rose = pink)


Imagery​, such as fallen candlestick symbolises destructive passion of Bertha





When she​ torches Thornfield ​

Used to show Jane’s​ overly passionate nature​ represented through​ physical objects

Similar to ​fire imagery of Bertha

described as : ​‘hair streaming against the flames’

Satanic nature


Used so reader can appreciate danger of uncontrolled passion


Locked up in the attic​ of Thornfield turns crazy​ ‘like some mad animal’

Jane ​locked in the red room overnight described as ​‘like a mad cat’

Bertha​ tries to escape ​her room

Jane​ escapes Thornfield + Rochester

Doesn’t run ​away

Almost dies

No prospects ​foreign

Difficult to survive ​+ find a home

Will not find a job/home​ due to her ethnicity



Sneaks around Thornfield​ at night to thwart Rochester’s plans ​of remarrying

Sneaks around Thornfield​ at night to ​thwart Rochester’s plans​ of using her to​ commit bigamy

Supposedly ​insane ​(according to Rochester)

Hears voices ​in her head

Similarities + differences between Bertha + Charlotte Bronte:

Bertha ​is an ​alter-ego ​to ​Charlotte Bronte


CHARLOTTE ​= fell in love with an​ unattainable man

BERTHA ​= ​rejected by the man​ who is supposed to ​love her

Constantin Heger


CHARLOTTE ​= spent most of her life shut in her father’s house in Yorkshire ​away from big-city culture

BERTHA ​= kept ​prisoner in a lonely house​ on the moors



omen novelists​ were common but often​ seen as inferior + ridiculous in

comparison to men around them

BERTHA ​= only able to ​show her power​ to the world in insane + destructive ways


Importance of St. John

Used to show how religion can be used in a controlling manner

Used to help Jane ​mature in her own morals + beliefs

Foil to Rochester:



Eyes described as ​‘flashing’​ and ​‘flaming’

Marrying Rochester​ abandonment of principle​ for sake of passion


Ambitious and austere

Associated with​ ice, rock and snow

Marrying St John ​would mean choosing​ principle over passion

Appearance and Characteristics:

He’s described as a ​handsome man in Jane’s first description of him

eg/ tall , fair, with blue eyes, and a Grecian profile’

Suggests that​ if looks were everything​, St John would be​ perfect for Jane ​theme in appearances

Bronte shows that​ looks aren’t everything

Neither Jane nor Rochester​ are ​attractive

Both find love in each other and their ​personalities are what count

Bronte suggests that ​in a relationship + marriage, love is key,​ which is what Jane and Rochester have, ​not Jane and St John

St.John could also be a foil to Jane

St.John says ​‘I am cold’

Jane replies saying ​‘I am hot, and fire dissolves ice’


During the​ 19th century​ in Britain, many believed that​ Christianity was the only true religion

Seen as ​noble and right​ to ​convert people overseas

St John made his decision to ​go to India as a missionary​ and serve God by ​spreading Christianity ​and he is determined to do so

Theme: Religion:

All his decisions ​are driven by his unswerving faith

Loves Rosamund Oliver

Throws his love​ away

Doesn’t think she will make ​a good missionary’s wife

Happy to ​deny himself of such pleasures​ (like love for Miss Oliver)

Feels that​ they will fade away

Loving and serving God is what he believes will give him ​eternal happiness and satisfaction

“Know me to be what I am - a cold, hard man” ​warns Jane of his ​cold personality​, opposite to Rochester’s ​passionate desires

Wants Jane to be his wife​ as she is ​‘made for labour not love’

Lack of emotional passion ​causes ​Jane to put down his proposal​ and return to Rochester

Jane is​ not prepared to be in a loveless marriage

St John ​uses religion as a means of justifying actions​, means of control + being able to judge others

“I do not speak to the feeble, or think of them”

Quite​ judgemental and ironic

Religion is supposed to be about ​spreading good to everyone

Not about creating divides​ between those that are​ “feeble” ​and those that are ​“worthy”

He has v​ery strong faith about the fact that what ​he’s done is correct

eg/ I am the servant of an infallible master”​ full of​ praise for God

eg/ It seems strange to me that all round me do not burn to enlist under the same banner​

He is ​certain that he’s chosen the right path

Surprised that​ others aren’t burning​ with desire to ​follow his path of serving God

He feels that​ he knows Jane’s destiny,simply because he is a ​dedicated follower of God

He blatantly tells her:

“God and nature intended for you a missionary’s wife”

“You are formed for labour, not love”

“I claim you - not for my pleasure, but for my Sovereign’s service”


Stone/rock imagery​ or ​coldness imagery​ is often used to describe him ​due to his cold, rigid personality

“Marble-seeming features”

“His high forehead, colourless as ivory”

“Marble kisses, or ice kisses”

“St John spoke almost like an automation”

Almost​ robot like​, no emotion

Whole life is​ fully dedicated to serving God


Importance of Mr Brocklehurst

Used to show how religion can be used in a controlling manner

Used to show the ​treatment of children​ in the ​19th century

Appearance and Characteristics:

Physical appearance:

Described as a​ ‘black pillar’​ with a face​ ‘like a carved mask’

Stone imagery​ represents his​ cold and imposing nature

Relates to​ stone + pillar imagery of ​St.John



‘[His daughters]​ were splendidly attired in velvet silk and furs’

When his​ wife and daughter appear ​at Lowood they are ​‘splendidly attired’ ​and have ​‘elaborately curled hair’

To the​ Lowood students ​Mr Brocklehurst says:


hat​ is that girl with curled hair”

Refers to ​child as an object

“Why has she or any other curled hair?

Extremely ​hypocritical

Clearly he​ sees the girls at Lowood to be significantly inferior​ to his own daughters, showing ​clear divides in social class

Mr Brocklehurst had also just ordered that Lowood students’ ​‘top-knots must be cut off’

Uncaring and harsh

‘My plan in bringing up these girls is

to render them hardy, patient, self denying’

Many deaths from typhus​ at Lowood

Indicates that the ​conditions ​imposed by Brocklehurst are ​too harsh

Theme: Religion

He has a ​rigid view of Christianity​ and he uses​ religion as a means of control

Tells Jane she has a wicked heart’​ because she​ doesnt read the Psalms

eg/ I have a Master to serve whose kingdom is not of this world: my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh”

Justifies his actions​ by saying that​ it’s what God wants

God has​ set as mission for him​ to deny these girls from even the slightest of luxuries


Importance of Helen

Used to show how​ religion can be used in a good way

Used to help Jane​ mature in her own morals + beliefs

Appearance and Characteristics:

Helen =​ Jane’s best friend

Very pious + almost​ mentors Jane at Lowood

Intelligent, caring + devout ​to her faith

Helen is a​ foil to Jane at Lowood

Helen is ​strong and and mature​ but she has a ​submissive and ascetic​ nature

This​ highlights Jane’s​ more headstrong and passionate​ character

Helen ​forgives easily,Jane ​holds grudges​ for long periods of time

Submissive and meek to ​Mr Brocklehurst and Miss Scatcherd

Jane is confused​ by Helen’s patient,​ loving response to mistreatment​, but she’s also ​awed by Helen’s brilliance and knowledge

Theme: Religion

Strongly religious

Represents a ​mode of Christianity​ stresses​ tolerance and acceptance​ + ascetically​ trusts her own faith

Endures this life​ simply because she​ looks forward to the joys of the next life

believes there’s ​nothing better than God ​and ​spreading God’s love

eg/ you must be sure and not grieve: there is nothing to grieve about’

Believes she will​ find belonging in heaven​ than in life on Earth

Jane ​wants to​ find love and happiness in this life

Death by consumption​ leads Jane to​ reject self-sacrifice​ in the name of religion

Allows Jane to ​progress with the Bildungsroman idea

Jane​ chooses 'Resurgam' ​to go on ​Helen's grave​ (I will rise again)

Stressing her ​faith in the afterlife​ and for worldly existence

Stark contrast ​to ​Mr Brocklehurst and St John's interpretations of religion

Believes that justice will be found in God in return for the ​unjust punishments Lowood girls receive

eg/​ ‘the Bible bids us return good for evil’


Importance of Mrs Reed and the children

Used to ​present Jane as an outsider​ from the outset of the novel

Used to help Jane​ mature in her own morals + beliefs

eg/ forgiving Mrs Reed

Key Quotations:

‘All John Reed’s violent tyrannies, all his sisters’ proud indifference, all his mother’s aversion, all the servants’ partiality, turned up in my disturbed mind like the a dark deposit in a turbid well’

Listing of people who ​have wronged Jane​ highlights ​loneliness

In her mind all the ​bad feelings have been pushed ​down but are now ​resurfacing

Water imagery​ she is upset

‘Why was I always suffering…?’ ‘Why could I never please’ ‘Why was it useless to try to win any one’s favour?’

Passionate questions​ + rule of three

‘I could not answer the ceaseless inward question-why I thus suffered’

Dual narrative

Mrs Reed​:

Widow of Jane’s uncle no blood tie​ to Jane

Lives at​ Gateshead Hall ​with her three children ​(John, Eliza + Georgiana)

Husband asked her to look after Jane​ and to treat her as a daughter she doesn’t though

A ​stern and cold woman​ who has no feelings for Jane at all

In spite of being close to death she refuses to be reconciled with Jane​, indeed ​managing to blame her

eg/​ ‘You were born, I think, to be my torment’


Cruel and unkind ​‘killed the little pea-chicks’

Bird imagery​ is central to the novel they​ represent freedom

John is​ described to be ruthless​ as he​ kills innocent birds

Resembles how he​ tortures Jane​ and​ deprives her of her freedom ​as a child

Jane has to ​constantly hide from him​ to avoid getting beaten for no reason

This injustice, how ​‘no-one thwarted​’ John for his behaviour reflects Bronte’s life

Bronte was never equal to her only brother ​Branwell

Father obviously favoured more

He hits Jane with a book ​and her head​ ‘ached and bled with the blow’

He commits suicide later ​in the novel due to ​gambling and bringing shame​ to his family


Described as ​‘headstrong and selfish’​ by Jane in her childhood

Meet again​ when Mrs Reed is at her deathbed

Eliza's ​ascetic appearance and crucifix ​signal her ​religious rebirth

Extremely ​rigid

She has​ every aspect of her day planned out

Jane cannot find any​ ‘result of her diligence’

When her mother dies, she plans to join a convent

Despite her seeming devotion, Eliza ​knows as little about compassion or love as does Mr. Brocklehurst

An​ angry, bitter woman,​ Eliza offers another ​negative image of Christianity

All of her w

Little interest ​in her mother's health

Doesn’t shed a tear​ when she dies.

ork is self-centered

Always ​cold, rigid, impassible,​ Eliza is an example of a character who is too icy, too lacking in generous, passionate feeling.

Jane's belief is that ​‘judgement untempered by feeling is too bitter and husky a morsel for human deglutition’

Jane ​seeks a balance between judgment and feeling​ that will allow her a full, but healthy share in human joy


Young Jane describes her as having a​ ‘spoiled temper’​ but was​ ‘universally indulged’ ​due to her prettiness

Admired very much​ in the ​victorian era ​‘the pink cheeks and golden curls’

Jane meets her again + she ​hasn’t changed much

She has ​feeling without judgment

Vain and shallow, Georgiana ​shows no interest in her brother's death​ or in her mother's illness

In a fashion ​similar to Céline Varens ​Adele’s mum, Georgiana's mind is​ fully devoted to recollections of past parties​ and​ "aspirations after dissipations to come​."

Neither ​Eliza's nun-like life nor Georgiana's fashionable fluff ​interests Jane




Female independence ​often ​achieved through financial security​ often for ​money or social status

For ​women of Bronte’s class,with no money of their own, ​marriage was the route​ to this financial security

For ​women of higher class,this meant ​staying in the family home​ until a​ suitable marriage​ came along

Marriage was seen as a way of​ securing and growing the family fortune​ more of a ​business arrangement​ than a romantic one

The family of a young lady would​ offer a dowry​ in the​ event of her marriage

A young lady would be ​expected to learn a range of accomplishments​, including:




Learned until such time that a ​suitable match could be found​ for her

Jane’s View on Marriage:

In ‘Jane Eyre’, marriage is about a​ combination of three things:




Bronte presents her view​ on marriage throughout the novel

She believes that there needs to be a​ balance between passion and duty​ to make a marriage ​successful

Jane’s quest is to be loved​ sense of​ belonging + value

eg/ To get some real affection


whom I truly love, I would willingly


a bull toss me’

Jane must learn through the course of the book to gain the love she deserves​ without sacrificing and harming herself​ in the process

Blanche Ingram + Mr. Rochester

People ​expect Mr Rochester to marry Blanche

Suitable match ​both from ​similar backgrounds

Blanche Ingram is beautiful + comes from a​ respectable family

Wants to marry Rochester because he’s from the ​upper class + wealthy

Easily discouraged​ when he hints that his fortune might be only​ ‘a third of what was supposed’

Bronte asserts that ​marriage based on passion​ and ignoring role of duty will ​bring more than loss of passion

Bertha Mason + Mr Rochester

Arranged marriage​ to Bertha for ​money

Entirely based on passion

Rochester ​does nothing​ to​ restrain/question his passion

Ruined Rochester’s life​, even before she went mad

Couldn’t talk to Bertha mind was ​‘common, low and narrow’

Bronte suggests a ​marriage based on money ​can’t be successful

Rosamund Oliver + St.John

Doesn’t marry Rosamund​ doesn’t think she’d be a good missionary’s wife

Shuns his passion ​completely opposite of Rochester

Thinks it is not God’s will

Proposes to Jane instead, ​‘for my Saviour’s service’

Admits that he doesn’t love Jane

Jane Eyre and Mr.Rochester

Jane believes​ that a person should:

Take care of their duties​ before they get married

Final decision ​should be​ based on passion

Structure of relationship:

Well suited

Need to be ​separated ​to experience a time of​ individual character development

Can then​ enjoy peace ​together

Jane needs to become Rochester’s equal in independence and maturity

Physical struggle and emotional torment ​strengthen her character

Turn her from a naive girl into a woman

Rochester commits a selfless act

Proves that he has ​seen the error of his former ways in order to become a whole person

Now ​needs Jane​ as much as she needs him

Better man without his sight and his hand ​ironic

Better vulnerable​ than when he was fiercely independent.

Key Quotation: Jane on Marriage

‘I will not be regarded in the light of a mere money speculation.’

‘I do not want a stranger - unsympathising, alien, different from me; I want my kindred’

When Jane discovers that she has​ inherited a large fortune​ from her dead uncle John

St.John suggests that this brings with it the opportunity to marry

Jane ​rejects this suggestion violently ​with that quotation

Highlights how​ unusual Jane’s feelings are​ in the context of ​attitudes towards marriage at that time


Bronte wrote the novel Jane Eyre to ​challenge female stereotypes at the time

Jane ​ strong, assertive, independent and outgoing

Unconventionally feminine attributes​ of the time

Male characters try to dominate Jane ​throughout the novel

John Reed

Mr Brocklehurst




19th century women​ seen as ​inferior to men

Women had​ few rights

Until they were married they had​ total control over any property​ they owned

Married women were ​not allowed to keep​ their own property funds went to the husband

Wife owed absolute fidelity, service, obedience and society​ to her spouse

Lost separate legal identity


Women​ often dependent on men

husband and wife seen as ​possessing separate identities

Women didn’t have the vote

Men earned a living ​rather than a women

Importance of finding a husband​ is shown by many female characters whose ​stories end with a marriage

eg/​ Miss Temple

eg/​ Miss Oliver​ gives up on St.John + ​marries Mr Granby

eg/ Georgiana Reed​ marries a​ rich older man

eg/ Jane, Diana + Mary​ all end up ​getting married

leaves Lowood ​when she gets married

John Reed:

Throws the book at Jane m

istreats her ​and is known to abuse her

‘Accustomed to John Reed’s abuse’

Verbally abuses​ Jane tells her that ​she does not have the right to anything ​in his house and never will

Claims the ​right of a gentleman

Expects to ​inherits the house​ when his m

other dies

‘For they are​ mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years’

Relates to ​Jane’s social class ​John implies that ​Jane is of a lower social class

Calls John a ​‘murderer’,‘slave-driver’​ and​ ‘Roman emperor’​ emphasizes the corruption that is inherent​ in the ruling classes

Class difference ​translates into physical difference​, and Jane believes that she is ​physically inferior to the Reed children (gives reason for John to bully her)

Her position as female leaves her vulnerable to the rules of a male tyrant

John overindulged​ only son, described as ​‘unwholesome’​ and thick’​ habitually gorges himself

Contrasts ​to Jane’s thin modest appearance John Reed is a ​picture of excess

Gluttony ​feeds his violent emotions ​eg/ bullying + punishing of Jane

By ​fighting back​ when John + his mother torment her, Jane ​refuses passivity ​expected for a women in her class position

Locked in the ‘Red Room’ ​as a result room that her ​uncle supposedly died in

Relates to ​locking up of Bertha

Extreme version ​of treatment of women

Inherited, and then spent, the family fortune Reed women got into financial trouble​ didn’t have much money themselves

Mr Brocklehurst:

Bullies Jane​ when visiting Gateshead uses religion as a method to control her

Jane ​still stands up for herself​ + challenges Mr Brocklehurst

eg/ I must keep in good health, and not die’

Challenging stereotypes​ of behaviour of children​ in ​19th century

Not meant to​:

Have their own opinion


Answer back

Educated children ​through children’s books

eg/ threats ​if you vex your mother, she might die due to the ‘wrath of God’

Witty + straightforward ​not expected of women,especially of women as young as Jane

Mr. Rochester:

Initially ​bosses Jane around​ + treats her like a ​servant

Even later when they become closer,​ he tries to maintain control

eg/ promise me to only stay for a week’​ when she leaves for Gateshead

Bronte also​ comments on masculinity

Mr Rochester ​described in a masculine way​ dark, strong, and stern’

Not conventionally handsome​ + has the features of a ​‘Byronic hero’

Takes its name from extravagant early 19th century poet

Moody, flawed, mysterious, passionate + sexually desirable

Society doesn’t judge Rochester​ for having mistresses

Bronte​ highlights inequalities ​Jane would be ​judged ​if she became his mistress

Rochester used to being obeyed +

doesn’t often ask for help

When in trouble ​he asked Jane for help

Needs + gets her help when ​Mr Mason is attacked

Asks for Jane’s advice​ when considering committing bigamy doesn’t listen​ to her advice

Had​ relationships with women​ in Europe

Saw them as ​‘inferior’

Time he spend with them as degrading’


Manipulative + intimidating ​towards Jane

eg/ spoke almost like an automaton’

Treats Jane​ like a servant​ + orders her about

eg/​ ‘when he said “go,” I went; “come,” I came; “do this,” I did it’

Jane says I did not like this servitude’

Shows that​ she knows her own mind​ +​ does not see herself​ as ​inferior to the opposite gender

Wants to marry Jane says ​“you shall be mine: I claim you”

More of an ​order than a proposal ​treats her more like an ​object ​that he owns + can ​claim

Feels like he has the right to control Jane’s destiny + manipulate her

eg/ you are formed for labour, not love’

Refuses to let Jane travel ​to India without them being married

Rare for a woman​ to ​travel abroad alone

Normally go as a​ companion to her husband

Unconventional Female Characters:

Jane ​isn’t pretty​, but wins Mr Rochester’s heart

Different + intelligent​ considered Mr Rochester’s​ intellectual rival

Unusual for 19th century​ women expected to be ​rich, beautiful or from a good family​ to find a good husband

Bronte ​valued women with independent spirits​ like Jane

eg/ I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will”

Portrayed ​when Jane:

Escapes Brocklehurst

Rejects St. John

Comes to ​Rochester ​only after ​ensuring that they marry as equals

‘Reader, I married him’

Jane is the ​active force​ in the sentence

More ​even power balance

Rochester ​becomes blind + is dependent​ on Jane (switching of gender roles)

Jane is now Rochester’s​ ‘prop and guide’​ in control

Jane ​voices how she feels ​about ​gender equality

Jane​ voices her physical desires​ dreams of Mr Rochester and being in his arms’

‘Women feel just as men feel’

Unusual as women ​didn’t openly talk​ about their ​physical desires​ at the time

Jane manages to​ stand up to the male character ​in the novel as best as she can and she sees herself as their equal again challenging stereotypes

Other independent women:

Diana and Mary

love learning and are ​kind + intelligent

Strong + ​independent


Violent + mad

Unconventionally beautiful

‘Big woman’

Physical appearance​ reminds Jane of a ​‘vampire’

Mr Rochester referred to her as ​‘impure and depraveddidn’t behave as an upper class woman ws expected to



Education provides the ​only route for social mobility​ in the ​19th century

Lowood school ​draws heavily on​ Bronte’s experiences at ‘Clergy Daughters’ School’​ at​ Cowan Bridge

Carus Wilson​ in charge of the school

To some extent was the ​model for Rev. Brocklehurst

Strict regime

Wilson believed in​ original sin

Had a Calvinistic view​ of predestination ​any misbehaviour was seen as a ​lack of God’s grace

Maria + Elizabeth​ fell​ ill in ​1825 ​+ ​died later

Charlotte + Emily removed​ from the school

Later, Charlotte was​ sent to Roe Head school​ father wanted to be sure that ​children began to acquire means of earning a living

In the ​19th century​, education was ​related to class

Governesses ​were normally ​lower or middle class

Education made them ​more elite than other middle class people

They were​ looked down upon ​by the rich

Jane becomes a​ teacher + governess​ partly from the ​lack of jobs available ​and that she is capable of this job

Education in Jane’s Life:

Motives for education ​are that Jane ​loves learning ​and wants to​ get out of Gateshead

eg/ School would be a complete change [


and an entrance into a new life.”

Early in life, ​books are the positive things ​in Jane’s life

Is her safe haven and ​escape from the confines of society

Gives her a ​world outside of Gateshead​ and enhances her language

eg/ Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting”

Education in ‘Jane Eyre’​ characters learn:

Basic music performance

Basic artistic skills

Foreign language (eg/ French)

Makes a person​ seem cultured​, but not to make them actually ​useful for anything except teaching music​, art, and foreign language

“Miss Temple had smiled approbation; she had promised to teach me drawing, and to let me learn French”

People​ she knows hate school​, she knows she will like it

Jane is ​interested in being accomplished​ in learning and being talented

In ​Lowood ​Jane uses learning as a way to:

Make ​friends

To be of a higher class

Learn how to​ respect others​ due to lack of outside communication

eg/​ “I had no communication by letter or message with the outer world: school rules, school duties, school habits"

At Lowood, Jane learns to ​forgive and to fight for the truth



Mid 19th century​ ideal beauty​ for a woman was a product of the desire to appear prosperous

Exhibited a ​woman’s potential as a mother

Ideal beauty:

Desire for​ fair skin​ (indicative of a woman’s social status that ​did not require outdoor work​)

Trend reached its height in ​Renaissance Europe​ with​ Queen Elizabeth I look​ often achieved with makeup that i​ncluded white lead

Norm until ​20th century

Pale complexion​ ideally set off by ​rosy cheeks + lips

eg/ Rosamund​, for whom St.John has an unrequited passion

Slim waist​ achieved using a ​corset

The ​rest of the effectwas created by:

Sleeves ​that were set​ off the natural shoulder​ (sloping shoulders​ were considered very attractive in women

Large skirts​ worn over multiple petticoats or a ​cage crinoline

Petticoats + large skirts​ used to create effect of​ large hips​ considered a good indicator of a ​woman’s ability to raise children

eg/ Jane’s admiration of Blanche Ingram’s shoulders

Jane chose ​ivory for her medium when creating a miniature of​ beautiful Blanche Ingram​ + and a veil when she travelled

Appearances in ‘Jane Eyre’

Almost always​ inversely related to actual nature​ of characters in ‘Jane Eyre’

eg/ Jane ​= plain, internally beautiful

eg/ Ingram ​= beautiful, malicious

eg/ Rochester ​= conventionally ugly, turns out to be loving to Jane

Bronte​ plays with the conflict​ between ​external beauty and internal beauty​ key idea

Bertha Mason + Blanche Ingram​ described as ​beautiful ​external beauty ​obscures an internal ugliness

Bertha ​beauty + sensuality blinded Rochester​ to her congenital insanity

Only​ after marriage​ that he gradually recognised her true nature

Blanche ​beauty ​hides haughtiness​ and pride

Beauty also hides her ​desire ​to marry Rochester​ for his money

Mr Rochester ​learned​ not to judge by appearances​ eventually ​rejects Blanche​ despite her beauty

Jane ​lacks the beauty​ of ​conventional Victorian heroines​ has inner beauty​ that appeals to Mr Rochester

Intelligence, wit + calm morality ​expresses a far​ greater personal beauty​ than any character in the novel

Described as ​‘plain​ and little’

Bronte intends to ​highlight the importance of personal development + growthrather than (often false) appearances

Rochester ​loses hand + eyesight

Jane + Rochester on ​equal footing ​in terms of appearance

Both must​ look beyond superficial qualities​ in order to love each other


Context: Jane Eyre as a Gothic Novel

Popular as a genre ​in nineteenth-century fiction

‘Strange places’

‘Wild and remote places’


Moor house + journey there

‘Imprisoning places’


Red room


‘Question of power ‘

John Reed powerful

Mr Brocklehurst powerful

Rochester powerful

Helen Burns vulnerable

Adele vulnerable

Bertha vulnerable + powerful

Rich, strong​ woman

Overpowered ​by Rochester

‘Perverse, weird and dangerous kinds of sexuality’

Jane + St.John cousins

Jane + Helen

Dies in her arms​ in bed

First​ true friendship

Jane + Rochester

Big age gap

Bertha abduction

‘Uncanny moments’

Role of Supernatural Forces in ‘Jane Eyre’:

Gypsy + Rochester ​

someone who seems familiar and strange

Discovery +​ meeting of Bertha

Already met Jane​ in her room

Thought to be ​Grace Poole


Jane believes ​Bertha is a ghost

Jane is called​ ‘imp’​ and ‘sprite’​ by Rochester


Damsel in distress ​Bertha

Jane rescuing Rochester

Clock striking 12​ Cinderella

All of these features are used by Bronte, especially during the ​Thornfield Hall period of the novel

Supernatural and mystical forces ​play an important role throughout the novel

Immense coincidences ​suggests a ​greater force is at work w

Dreams, premonitions, and visions ​they seem to​ guide Jane as she embarks upon her journey.

here this story is concerned.

Jane from a young age has a ​fascination with the magic​ and the unexplained

Such an unexplainable event ​reunites Jane and her Mr. Rochester at the novel's end.

Examples of Supernatural Forces:

The Red Room

A symbol in the novel

The place where Jane's ​uncle Mr. Reed passed away

Even the ​adults ​in the house ​avoid at all costs

Uncleaned ‘quiet dust(transferred epithet)


Jane, only ten years old locked in the ominous room​ without even a candle for comfort

Light and dark imagery

eg/​ ‘deep red damaskand​ ‘crimson cloth’​ deep/dark imagery

eg/ white’​ and​ ‘snowy Marseilles​contrast

More supernatural imagery:

‘white face and arms specking the gloom​

‘I thought it was like one of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp’

Rochester also describes Jane​ as how she is describing herself now another coincidence

Makes it m

Foreshadows​ Jane’s and Rochester’s ​spiritual relationship​ that has supernatural elements to it

ore supernatural

Bronte uses the​ ‘ghost’ ​to show the reader ​Jane’s state of mind​ very distressed

Jane​ wants revenge​ due to being an adopted child in the victorian era, ​she didn’t have many choices

Reed children​ got away with everything

Need for justice​ was reflected with the ​appearance of her dead uncle’s ghost​, angry that Mrs. Reed ​did not keep her promise​ to look after Jane

However Jane needs to learn to another and ​more controlled way to confront injustice

Thornfield hall

Very​ gothic and secretive​ reflected in the name

‘Strange laughter echoes above them, spooking Jane’

When Jane first goes to the​ third floor

Foreshadowing​ the appearance of ​Bertha​, a key character in the supernatural theme

She begins to have​ thoughts about her current occupation ​as a governess and wsociety

omen in her

Begins to feel ​‘confined’ ​and lets her imagination go wild

Further ​foreshadows Bertha,who is​ really imprisoned

First encounter with Rochester:

Jane describes ​Rochester’s dog Pilot ​as a ‘​Gytrash’ a ​spirit dog

Connected with her ​experience in the Red Room

One of the​ visions she had ​in the fit was something with A great black dog behind him’

Idea of ​darkness is reinforced with Jane’s description​ of Rochester’s appearance ‘had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow’

Spiritual connection ​between the vision that the​ young Jane saw and what the adult Jane sees when she first meets Rochester

Feeling that the​ events in Jane’s life a