Jane Eyre Flashcard Example #72138

Analysis of main characters
Jane Eyre:
– She possesses a sense of her self-worth and dignity, a commitment to justice and principle, a trust in God, and a passionate disposition
– Her integrity is continually tested over the course of the novel
– She feels the need to belong somewhere and wants freedom
– What kind of freedom though?
– if she becomes Mr. Rochester’s mistress, she would be sacrificing her dignity and integrity for the sake of her feelings
– if she travels to india with Mr. Rivers, then she would be sacrificing her freedom of having feelings and acting on them for the sake of exercising her talents
– Jane waits until she is not dependent on Mr. Rochester for money or general company to go back to him
– Shows she has matured and become a stronger and more independent woman

Edward Rochester:
– He is Jane’s moral and intellectual equal
– Portrays himself to be stronger than he is
– Stern and passionate
– He is weaker than Jane from the beginning but it becomes more prominent when he is blinded by the fire set by Bertha Mason, his wife

St. John Rivers:
-*Mr. Rochester’s foil
– marriage with John would represent sacrificing passion for principal while marriage with Rochester would represent sacrificing principal for passion

Helen Burns:
-*Foil for Mr. Brocklehurst
– Brocklehurst uses religion to gain power and control others
– Makes him seem tougher and all his ideas with religion seem wrong by using Helen as a comparison
-*Foil for Jane Eyre
– Helen uses religion for tolerance and acceptance
– Helen’s submissiveness brings out how headstrong Jane is
– Helen believes that justice will be found in God’s ultimate judgement while Jane judges for herself and takes action for justice because her search for happiness and love is in THIS world, not heaven

Themes:
Love vs. Autonomy
– Jane searches for love (romantic and non-romantic–belonging)
– in the process, Jane doesn’t want to lose her autonomy/independence (ex: refusing to marry Rochester- emotional satisfaction while sacrificing integrity)
– A test of Jane’s autonomy would be how she can only let herself marry Rochester after proving self sufficiency to herself

Religion
– 3 large religious figures: Mr. Brocklehurst (too violent), Helen Burns (too passive) and St. John Rivers (too intense)
– each represents Jane trying to find the right balance of religion by her rejecting all 3 and forming her own ideas
– Jane finds a middle ground for religion where she uses Christianity for comfort, not too intense in either direction (always forgiving/always punishing)

Social Class
– Victorians England’s strict social hierarchy
– complicated social position of the governess
– extreme tension from the characters around Jane mainly come from Jane being a figure of ambiguous class (manners, sophistication, education)
– ex: Jane is Rochester’s intellectual but not social equal

Gender Relations
– in addition to class hierarchy, Jane must overcome patriarchal domination
– 3 male figures that threaten her desire for equality and dignity: Mr. Brocklehurst (she escaped), Edward Rochester (she could only marry him until she was his equal), and St. John Rivers (she rejected)
– each want Jane to be submissive; she finds her own way around it however

Symbols:
Bertha Mason
Some critics have read her as a statement about the way Britain feared and psychologically “locked away” the other cultures it encountered at the height of its imperialism.
Others have seen her as a symbolic representation of the “trapped” Victorian wife, who is expected never to travel or work outside the house and becomes ever more frenzied as she finds no outlet for her frustration and anxiety.

The Red Room
The red-room can be viewed as a symbol of what Jane must overcome in her struggles to find freedom, happiness, and a sense of belonging. In the red-room, Jane’s position of exile and imprisonment first becomes clear. Although Jane is eventually freed from the room, she continues to be socially ostracized, financially trapped, and excluded from love; her sense of independence and her freedom of self-expression are constantly threatened.
It reappears as a memory whenever Jane makes a connection between her current situation and that first feeling of being ridiculed.

Motifs
Fire and Ice
Fire and ice appear throughout Jane Eyre. The former represents Jane’s passions, anger, and spirit, while the latter symbolizes the oppressive forces trying to extinguish Jane’s vitality. Fire is also a metaphor for Jane, as the narrative repeatedly associates her with images of fire, brightness, and warmth. Images of ice and cold, often appearing in association with barren landscapes or seascapes, symbolize emotional desolation, loneliness, or even death.

Substitute Mothers
Jane encounters a series of nurturing and strong women on whom she can model herself, or to whom she can look for comfort and guidance: these women serve as mother-figures to the orphaned Jane. Ex: Bessie, Helen Burns, Miss Temple, and Diana and Mary Rivers

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