An Analysis of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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An Analysis of Jane Eyre

The novel is rich in poetry, symbolism and metaphor. It does not fit easily into a definite pattern, being neither a novel of "manners" in the tradition of Austen, or a straightforward Gothic Romance in the style of Mrs Radcliffe. What Charlotte Bronte did was to create a work which cleverly blends elements of the two styles, and which remains uniquely independent of them at the same time, since it addresses issues which were at the time rather controversial.

The novel is written in the first person, and thus magnifies the central character - the reader enters the world of Jane Eyre and is transported through her experiences at first hand. This at once makes the work subjective, especially since we know that Charlottes Brontes own life and experiences were so closely interwoven with the heroine's. As well as this we learn only at the end of the novel that the events are being related to us ten years after the reconciliation with Rochester - thus the narrative is RETROSPECTIVE (looking back). CB is clever in blending the narrative so that at times Jane seems to be speaking as an adult with adult hindsight , while at others she she is "in the middle" of them, as a child or young woman. The indecision which is a central issue in the book, is heightened by this device. We never know, as readers, whether to be entirely trustful of Janes actions and thoughts, because we are never sure wheher she is speaking impulsively or maturely.

This intensifies the readers dilemma as to what is "right" and "wrong" in the dramatic relationships which are part of JE's life. Can we believe what the heroine says, or is she deceiving herself? The novel is primarily a love story and a "romance" where wishes come true but only after trials and suffering. The supernatural has its place, as do dreams, portents and prophesies. The heroine begins poor and lonely and ends up rich and loved; the orphan finds a good family to replace the wicked one; all the basic ingredients of classic romantic fairytale are present.

The romantic element is present in two forms in Jane Eyre; the "family" aspect is dealt with in the Gateshead, Lowood and Moor House episodes, which involve the exchanging of the wicked Reed family for the benevolent Rivers one; and the Love romance is dealt with in the Thornfield and Ferndean episodes.
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