Jane Eyre – Female Madness/ the Gothic (7 quotes) Flashcard Example #52903

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“She’s like a mad cat’ ‘what shocking conduct, Miss Eyre, to strike a young gentleman… your young master’ ‘you must be tied down” AO3
A03 The ideal young girl in Bronte’s society was an angelic figure, calm, serine and completely in control of their emotions. Female children were expected to be subservient and obedient and were not supposed to stand up for themselves or protest against injustice. Therefore, her rebellion against John read and her passionate disobedience in an era that demands absolute self-control is “shocking” to Bessie and Miss Abbot. Miss Abbot saying “what shocking conduct Miss Eyre” reinforces society’s view that passionate display is appalling behaviour.
Violent displays of emotion in this society, especially from women, meant that you were out of control and the showed signs of madness. Bessie likens Jane to a “mad cat” to suggest that her current behaviour is bordering on insanity. During this era, mentally ill people were not treated properly and were restrained, because they were believed to have the devil inside them. There are echoes of insanity in Bessie’s suggestion that Jane “must be tied down”.
“She’s like a mad cat’ ‘what shocking conduct, Miss Eyre, to strike a young gentleman… your young master’ ‘you must be tied down” Themes
Slavery and Oppression,
Rebellion against Oppression, Social Class and Society, Gender Roles, Mental Illness, Reason vs Passion
“God will punish her… something bad might be permitted to come down the chimney and fetch you away” AO1
AO1 A cruel parting from Miss Abbot, shows her to be a cold and emotionless woman.
Divinely sanctioned
Jane is an imaginative child and this will surely terrify Jane. Children believe that adults always know and tell the truth, and if you lie to a child, they will trust you were telling the truth.
The red room represents her uncle, whose body was left in this room until the funeral. Miss Abbot says this to break down Jane psychologically by making her terrified that the devil is going to get her (by showing her a room associated with death) so that she is desperate to be good in the future.
“God will punish her… something bad might be permitted to come down the chimney and fetch you away” AO3
A03 First reference to the gothic. This was becoming a popular literary genre in the Victorian era, when this novel was written. Bronte appears to be drawn towards this fascination with darker themes, and begins suggesting satanic or supernatural things are happening within the novel.
In Bronte’s society, it was believed that God would judge and condemn the wicked people like Jane. Bronte questions this view throughout the novel, by making the reader side with Jane, and therefore question society.
This method of cruel punishment to make a child be good was common in Bronte’s society.
“God will punish her… something bad might be permitted to come down the chimney and fetch you away” Themes
Childhood, the supernatural/the gothic
“Red room” “A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask” “a crimson cloth” AO2/AO5
A02/A05 – symbolises danger and fear
– the red imagery represents hell fire, the devil, punishment for her sins. Society has convinced her that this is where she will end up.
– the result of her passion, red of passion has led her to a room of death
– Associated with a ‘scarlet woman’, sexuality and prostitution. Lust, desire and passion are associated with this deep red colour, and contrasts greatly to the white worn by a bride to symbolise purity and virginity.
– Symbolic of a womb (the red being menstrual blood, or the inside of a womb), where Jane’s passionate, rebellious, angry side is growing and developing. Hysteria (meaning womb) is linked to insanity (look at context).
– A symbol of extreme passion – the colour of blood, the colour used often by revolutionaries
“Red room” “A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask” “a crimson cloth” AO3
A03 If the red room symbolises a ‘scarlet woman’ – A Victorian male was frightened of female sexuality and upper class women were not supposed to understand sexuality or enjoy sex. The double standard was that men could have prostitutes and enjoy sex with them, but their upper-class wives were supposed to hate it and only have sex for ‘duty’, to have children.
If the red room symbolises ‘the womb’, then popular attitudes at the time believed that female insanity stemmed from the womb and Jane is put inside this womb-like room where her insanity begins to develop. This was widely believed because the word ‘hysteria’ (uncontrollable emotion) comes from the greek word for uterus (hysterika), because ancient Greeks believed a discontented uterus was the reason for excessive emotion in women, hysteria.
“Red room” “A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask” “a crimson cloth” Themes
Fire and Ice (Weather), the Gothic/the Supernatural, Gender Roles, Reason vs Passion
“One of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp” AO1/AO2
AO1 Jane is terrified of herself and fears the fact that she is different to everyone else.
“Half fairy, half imp” suggests that she is a creature from another world. What she did to John Reed has transformed her into something strange and frightening that she cannot recognise.
“Fairy” and “imp” suggests something monstrous, mischievous, devilish.
“One of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp” AO3
AO3 Jane does not conform; she is not society’s ideal submissive and conforming child, so she believes she is different, peculiar. Society rejected those who would not conform to conventional gender and class stereotypes.
“One of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp” AO5
AO5 This is a view of her Rochester often echoes, but he calls her this in a fond way, she is a fairy who has bewitched him.
Could represent Bronte’s fear of her own views – she does not conform to societies expectations by daring to question fundamental ideas and beliefs of her society and by encouraging the reader to empathise with a misbehaving, rebellious child. For the daughter of a priest, this could be quite frightening.
“One of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp” Themes
the Supernatural/the Gothic, Illusion vs Reality, Foreshadowing, madness
“It was only candlelight” “my blood crept cold through my veins” AO1
AO1 Bronte builds suspense and fear for her readers, to create the supernatural atmosphere for Bertha’s introduction. “Candlelight” is a typical Gothic literature setting, where the dim and hazy light can create shadows and distort reality
The consonance of “crept cold” also creates suspense and seems supernatural. When in a ghost or demon passes through someone, it is often describes as making their blood creep through them or making them shiver. This suggests that Jane is in the presence of something sinister and dangerous
“It was only candlelight” “my blood crept cold through my veins” Themes
Themes The Supernatural/the Gothic, Foreshadowing/Omens, Bertha Mason, Female Madness
“tall and large” “thick and dark hair” “gown, sheet or shroud I could not tell” “discoloured face – it was a savage face” “purple: the lips were swelled and dark” “bloodshot eyes” “foul german spectre – the vampire” AO2
AO2 Surrounded by a web of gothic imagery – a vampire, a savage – all to make her seem like ‘the other’ – the thing standing in the way of Jane and Mr Rochester. “Savage” and “vampire” = animalistic, uncivilised, lack of humanity = insanity.
“The vampire” is a massively gothic description, would deeply unsettle readers in Bronte’s society. “Bloodshot eyes” links to vampirism.
“tall and large” “thick and dark hair” “gown, sheet or shroud I could not tell” “discoloured face – it was a savage face” “purple: the lips were swelled and dark” “bloodshot eyes” “foul german spectre – the vampire” AO3
AO3 to a modern reader, this description would be considered quite racist. But in Bronte’s society, mixed race people were not often seen in England and so were commonly perceived as ‘alien’ because they were so different to White English people.
“tall and large” “thick and dark hair” “gown, sheet or shroud I could not tell” “discoloured face – it was a savage face” “purple: the lips were swelled and dark” “bloodshot eyes” “foul german spectre – the vampire” AO5
AO5 Alternatively her “savage face” and “bloodshot eyes” could represent her understandable anger and hatred towards Mr Rochester and her entrapment. After years of being confined, Bertha is not going to be civilised or calm.
“tall and large” “thick and dark hair” “gown, sheet or shroud I could not tell” “discoloured face – it was a savage face” “purple: the lips were swelled and dark” “bloodshot eyes” “foul german spectre – the vampire” Themes
Themes Female Madness, the Supernatural/the Gothic, Slavery and Oppression, Rebellion against Oppression
“It removed the veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two parts” AO1
AO1 This makes the reader feel uneasy, because it is symbolic of the union of Mr Rochester and Jane. The discovery of Bertha will metaphorically tear them apart. This symbolic action makes the reader feel uneasy and afraid for Mr Rochester and Jane, because it suggests to the reader that the wedding will go horribly wrong. The ripping of the veil could also represent Jane and Mr Rochester being torn apart.
“It removed the veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two parts” AO2
AO2 “Gaunt” means she is haggard and thin, and possibly suggests that this is from years of suffering, neglect and hunger.
“It removed the veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two parts” AO5
AO5 – a terrifying image of a Bride, which parallels Jane’s anxieties about her marriage. She also rips up the veil, which Jane saw as a symbol of the luxuries Mr Rochester was trying to force on her that she doesn’t want, so in a way she is echoing Jane’s views, and she is also showing rebellion which Jane also does.
– Bertha is a mirror of Jane because Jane’s passionate, rebellious side is worryingly similar to Bertha’s descriptions. Jane has many opinions and feelings which are unconventional and not ‘British’, such as passion and desire for liberty.
– Symbol for Jane’s fear of madness, Bertha is the Victorian idea of what happens when a weak mind loses control and expresses emotions such as anger and passion.
– Bronte’s views towards Mrs Heger. Perhaps Bertha is the subconscious result of the hatred and jealousy she feels towards Heger’s wife, the barrier standing in the way of their union.
– An extreme version of the oppression that all women face in the Victorian patriarchy.
“It removed the veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two parts” Themes
Themes Foreshadowing/omen, the Supernatural/the Gothic, mental illness, illusion vs reality, Bertha Mason, Rebellion against Oppression, Oppression and Slavery.
More Context (Passion and Insanity)
Passion and lust are sinful in Bronte’s society, and outbursts and passionate emotions suggests an imbalance in your brain. Therefore, those who were unable to control their passionate emotions were deemed insane. This is why Jane believes she is insane, because women often feared that their lose of control could lead to being accused of madness.
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