Sample Questions

1) Discuss Bronte’s use of language in Jane Eyre.

Bronte uses deceptively simple language in the novel. Describe some of the features of her style – for example, it tends to be a blend of literary English and Yorkshire dialect. What are the implications for this? Think about Jane’s attempts to move forward in society, and how the use of language can reveal status and class. Are the provincial classes as narrow minded as the upper can be? Bronte’s style is also often journalistic, with quick-fire impressions jotted down: "Terrible moment: full of struggle, blackness, burning!" This immediacy impresses Jane’s passionate nature upon the reader, but then it is followed by an elaborate sentence quite distinct from the bullet responses that have gone before:

"Not a human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better

than I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely

worshipped: and I must renounce love and idol." (Vol. III, Chapter 1)

The dialogue reflects the education, station and attitude of the characters. In relation to Adele, Jane’s charge, the use of French reveals Jane’s intelligence and skill to the reader more noticeably.

Look at the conversations between Rochester and Jane. They express themselves directly and in an entirely natural manner. This colours everything they say with deep emotion and feeling, as they have a complete lack of pretension and artifice in their dealings with each other. Also look at Bronte’s description of extreme agitation. Jane’s feelings and conscience are given a voice. They fight to determine her actions, their personification helping us to understand Jane’s motives and identify with her. This is needed when she flees from Rochester in Volume III, Chapter 1, action that could jeopardize the reader’s sympathy with the heroine.

2) Discuss the style of narrative in Jane Eyre.

The novel is a fictional autobiography and consists of a first-person narrative. This means we see events and characters mostly from the narrator’s point of view. Gives the story authenticity and creates a close bond between the narrator and the reader, making them more involved with the events of the story. Indeed, the reader is directly addressed at moments of high drama, at moments when an observer would expect to be least wanted. So when Rochester asks for Jane’s forgiveness after their first wedding-day, she tells us "Reader, I forgave him"; when she runs away: "Gentle reader, may you never feel what I felt!" she continues and, when she marries him for a second time, "Reader, I married him".

Go on to discuss the difference in tone used to describe each location. The tone for Gateshead is passionate and wild, befitting the child that Jane is. We are made aware of the irrational and wild part of her personality. At Lowood the language is sold and hard, reflecting the constraint placed upon women in society and the restrictions they faced from religious thought. But at Thornfield the setting is personal and symbolic. The house is aligned with the master himself and the varying pace of the language makes us aware of how Jane is veering between passion and the need for self-control. Her slip into more conventional behaviour at Moor House is reflected in the stifling tone of voice. The novel swings between the irrational and rational, represented in the locations, which in turn reflect our divided heroine. It is only at Ferndean, with the now tempered Rochester, that resolution can be achieved.

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