Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre: A reconsideration

analytical Essay
2890 words
2890 words

Few have looked into the different shades of "visibility" and "invisibility" and the "power of the gaze" in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. A brief look at some of the critical literature on Jane Eyre shows that there has been more focus on the personal than on the textual aspect of the novel. Moreover, "visibility," and "invisibility" as well as "the power gaze" have rarely been the target of rigorous academic research. A number of earlier studies used "The Brontes" as a part of their titles.1 Others have busied themselves with matters of "plot," "too much melodrama" and "coarseness of language."2 In this study I propose to focus on some textual aspects that have been less at the center of critical attention. However, this is not the only vantage point that characterizes this research work. Indeed, the very selection of these textual aspects may shed some new light on the possibilities of future critical reception of Bronte's text.

This study makes use of certain terms that draw the reader's attention to a new way of reading Bronte's Jane Eyre. The three key terms are "visibility," "invisibility," and "gaze." While "visibility" here stands for notions such as the "presence," "ability to see or to be seen, felt or noticed," "invisibility" stands just for the absence/lack of "visibility." By "the power of the gaze" I mean how most of the characters in this text fashion the world around them and are themselves fashioned by different ways of looking at things (i.e. in both the literal as well as the metaphorical senses of the word "looking": A more brilliant example here is Brocklehurst's accusations against Jane at Lowood). Indeed, the term "gaze" as I use it here is meant to subsume all senses of gazing, glancing, looking at,...

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...slave or victim, and imparted strength in the transit (Ch. 7, p. 63)

Despite her claim to have "mastered the rising hysteria," Jane's pain, to borrow her own words, "no language can describe." This girl's particular "gaze" seems to have surpassed all other gazes.

The most pivotal incident in Bronte's text where the title of this study is evidenced is what Jane experiences in the red-room introduced as early as Chapter Two of the text. This is more likely an indication of the significance of the relationship between the power of the gaze and the question of visibility of petrifying scenes for such a young child like Jane. Of this experience, Jane tells us that she "never forgot the … frightful episode of the red-room." For it was in this room her aunt locked her in the dark and even Jane's "wild supplications for pardon" were not listened to (Ch. 8, p. 67).

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how critical literature on jane eyre has focused more on the personal than the textual aspect of the novel.
  • Analyzes how bronte's jane eyre uses three key terms: "visibility," "invisible," and "gaze" to connect events, characters, and themes.
  • Analyzes how bronte's text is rich in shades of "visibility/invisible" and in the different roles of power associated with the term "gaze."
  • Opines that a close reading of bronte's text invites closer look at the different roles "(in)visibility" and the "gaze" play in most parts of this long text.
  • Explains that jane eyre presents different shades of (in)visibility and the power of the gaze. the research project relies on a close reading of textually selected materials.
  • Analyzes how bronte's text attracts the reader into a short trip of visibility and invisibility.
  • Analyzes how the words in the introductory pages connected themselves with the subsequent vignettes, and gave significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray.
  • Analyzes the relationship between (in)visibility and (immobility in different parts of jane eyre.
  • Analyzes how rochester's keenness to keep his weak points invisible to jane is related to his desire not to be "transfixed" by her.
  • Analyzes how jane's escape from her cousin, st. john, changes the smooth relationship between them. jane, as she tells us in the next chapter, has "sisterly affection for him."
  • Analyzes how jane eyre's power emerges from her ability to use her gazes to build her personality right from the outset of her journey into self-discovery.
  • Analyzes how jane's torture at the hands of her cousin is partly attributed to the absence of the gaze of john’s mother.
  • Explains that mrs reed was blind and deaf on the subject. she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he did both in her presence.
  • Analyzes how john reed's character is partly drawn by the absence of his mother’s gaze, and the lack of the passionate motherly gaze of her late mother.
  • Analyzes john's order to jane to "show the book" and his reproach to her that she has "no business to take our books" may as well mean that he means to deny her the right to knowledge.
  • Analyzes how jane tells us that miss temple's departure of lowood has changed her drastically.
  • Analyzes how mr. broclkehurst tries to convince all attendants of the type of character he himself took jane to be.
  • Analyzes how the focus on the power of the gaze and the issue of visibility is intensified in another incident in the text.
  • Narrates how they wrote in conspicuous characters on a piece of pasteboard the word "slattern" and bound it around helen's large, mild, intelligent, and benign-looking forehead.
  • Analyzes how jane reacts to the "visible" mark on helen's forehead, classifying her on the wrong side of the conforming folk at the institute.
  • Recounts how they ran to helen, tore it off, and thrust it into the fire. the fury of which she was incapable had been burning in their soul all day.
  • Analyzes how "visibility" is used as a disciplinary technique that takes the individual while aiming at the collective. jane's reaction is not exaggerated.
  • Explains that miss scatchred's eyes are blind to the full brightness of the orb, which is a case of 'dysfunctional visibility'.
  • Analyzes how jane regrets the accusations raised against her by mr brocklehurst despite her attempts "to be so good and do so much at lowood," and discloses to readers two more important aspects of victorian conditions for women's "visibility."
  • Analyzes how helen burns sympathizes with jane's emotional injury and her broken heart. helen assures her friend that the gazes won her will make her "visible" to the gazers only for a short time.
  • Describes how they were exposed to general view on a pedestal of infamy, who had said they could not bear the shame of standing on their natural feet.
  • Analyzes how jane's "infamy" is fostered by another incident that follows this immediately. the girl "lifted her eyes"
  • Describes how a strange light inspired them i.e. the girl's eyes. what an extraordinary sensation that ray sent through them!
  • Analyzes how jane's "gaze" surpassed all other gazes, despite her claim to have "mastered the rising hysteria."
  • Analyzes the pivotal incident in bronte's text where the title of this study is evidenced is what jane experiences in the red-room introduced as early as chapter two.
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