lunedì 30 aprile 2007

Jane Eyre - Charotte Bronte

Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead and subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield Hall, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a richer life than that traditionally allowed women in Victorian society.

Until the age of 10, Jane Eyre grew up with her abusive aunt and cousins. She was then sent to Lowood where the conditions were unlivable. It wasn't until Jane turned 18 that she saw hope in her future as a governess for a French coquette. When Jane arrives at Thornfield, her world is completely changed: amidst a mystery of the house and a friendship with the matron of the house, Jane finds herself in love with the master of the house. Thornfield promises to change her life forever.

Jane Eyre is obviously written from the first person point of view or "I". When the novel was initially published, the subtitle was An Autobiography. The subtitle was dropped in subsequent editions of the novel. In general, a first person point of view has the advantages of being a constant point of view and helping to make the work consistent; also, it tends to give authority and credibility to the narrative, since the person telling the story observed and/or was involved in all the incidents. Its drawbacks are that the story is limited to what the narrator saw or heard and to the narrator's interpretation of the other characters. Because the action is completed before the story begins, the narrative may not be as vivid as fiction using other points of view, and the characters and action may seem more distant. Jane Eyre has the virtues of this method; most readers accept Jane's interpretation and explanations of herself, the other characters, and events. However the problem of too great an aesthetic distance does not arise. Jane's emotional intensity and openness cause the reader to identify with her, so that her experiences and feelings temporarily become those of most readers.


Jane Eyre makes particularly powerful and complex uses of setting, which it intertwines with plot, characterization, and, of course, symbolism and imagery.
The setting of the story is carefully divided into five distinct locales, each of which has its particular significance in Jane's history and each of which is like an act in a five-act drama. Her early childhood is spent in Gateshead Hall, the home of the Reeds; from there she goes to Lowood, where she comes under the influence of Mr. Brocklehurst, Miss Temple, and Helen Burns; as governess to Adele at Thornfield she falls in love with Rochester; after the discovery of the existence of Bertha, Jane runs away and is taken into Moor House, the home of her cousins, the Rivers family; in the conclusion of the book she and Rochester are united at his crumbling hunting-lodge, Ferndean Manor. There are, in addition, two scenes in which Jane returns to an earlier home to discover changes in both herself and those she has known in the past: from Thornfield she returns to the deathbed of Mrs. Reed at Gateshead, and from Moor House she returns to Thornfield to find only its blind windows and gaping walls.


JANE EYRE: An orphan who spends her unhappy childhood under the care of her aunt. She is sent away to Lowood for her education and later becomes a teacher there. At Thornfield Hall, where she serves as a governess, she forms an attachment to Mr. Rochester, the wealthy owner of the estate. The relationship is a troubled one, and Jane finally leaves Rochester. After Jane seeks and finds "family," she slowly forms, through deprivation and poverty. She triumphs over various difficulties eventually returns to Mr. Rochester, who is then blind and disfigured, and they enjoy a quiet and happy married life.

EDWARD FAIRFAX ROCHESTER: The second son of a wealthy landowner. He has a gruff, self-important manner. He has lived an interesting life, filled with travel and adventure. His attitude towards Jane is at first vague and questionable. He then grows affectionate with her; finally, he treats her with the honour she deserves. Mr. Rochester is married to Bertha Mason, an insane woman whom he hides in the attic of Thornfield Hall. Since Jane does not know about Bertha, she accepts Mr. Rochester's proposal of marriage. After his wife's death and his own disfigurement, he is quite humbled, and when he marries Jane, he is a changed man.

ST JOHN RIVERS: A young minister at Morton who lives at Marsh End. He saves Jane from starvation after she runs away from Thornfield Hall. He has a generous impulse towards the poor, but Jane suspects that he does not perform his work with much real feeling. He wants to marry Jane, but she rejects him.


SARAH GIBSON REED: The widow of Jane Eyre's uncle. She treats Jane badly, preferring to indulge her own children. Jane resents her.

JOHN REED: The pampered son of Sarah Reed. He is a source of anxiety for his mother and enjoys tormenting Jane. He suffers a violent death at a young age.

ELIZA REED: The elder daughter of Sarah Reed. She is cold and indifferent to her dying mother. She becomes a nun and attains the position of mother superior.

GEORGIANA REED: The second daughter of Sarah Reed. She marries a wealthy man in London.

MISS TEMPLE: The superintendent of Lowood. She is one of the few adults in Jane's childhood who treats her with anything like affection. Jane truly loves Miss Temple, and when Miss Temple marries, Jane feels abandoned.

MR BROKELEHURST: A hypocritical clergyman who oversees Lowood School and is cruel to Jane.

HELEN: An ill, motherless girl at Lowood School. With her tender, ethereal qualities, she becomes Jane's friend and first confidante. Many years after Helen's death, Jane erects a gray marble tablet over her grave, in fond remembrance of her friend.

CELINE VARENS: A French performer who was Mr. Rochester's mistress during his time in Paris. The relationship between the two ends when she deceives him.

BERTHA ANTOINETTA MASON: The beautiful woman Mr. Rochester married in the West Indies. She is imprisoned in the attic of Thornfield Hall because she has lost her mind and can be violent. She kills herself after setting fire to the house.

ADELE: The daughter of Céline Varens. She is Mr. Rochester's ward. She is portrayed as coquettish beyond her years. She becomes very attached to Jane and grows into a proper young woman.

BLANCHE INGRAM: She wants to marry Edward Rochester for his wealth and social status, a desire that reveals her base and undeserving nature.

MRS FAIRFAX: The kindly housekeeper of Thornfield Hall. She treats Jane very well.


- FIREcan be destructive, as seen in Bertha's burning of Thornfield Hall. The domestic fire is associated with human vitality, while cold and damp are associated with death. A great deal of narration is spent on the fire in Miss Temple's room. The stress is not only on the physical comfort of fire, but also on fire as a symbol of kindness, friendship and acceptance.
The fire becomes a symbol at times for a life of sacrifice and self- abnegation. St. John suppresses his passion for the charming Rosamond because of his call to the missionary life. It is almost as if his "heart is already laid on a sacred altar: the fire is arranged around it".

- The CHESTNUT TREE stuck by lightning into two halves symbolizes the fact that Jane and Mr. Rochester are to separate. The incident in which Bertha rips apart the wedding veil symbolizes Mr. Rochester's betrayal of his wife and also that of his now beloved Jane.

- The MOON is a symbol of deception. In the scene of Mr. Rochester's proposal to Jane, Jane is a victim of deception. Mr. Rochester asks Jane if she would be his beloved. Jane wants to see him, and so she asks him to turn to the moonlight because she wants to read his face. The moonlight becomes here a symbol of deception, mystery and evil.

Read the book online:

There's also a film on "Jane Eyre":


What do you think of the book? And what about the film? Have you ever watched it?
Do you prefer "Jane Eyre" or "Wuthering Heights"?
I like them both.

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