Jane Eyre Study Guide

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" A haunting tale of young love and deadly secrets"

Jane Eyre Study Guide

Chapter Questions

These questions may form the basis for class discussion, homework, or quizzes. However, you should familiarize yourself with these questions even if they are not assigned--they may help you sort out difficulties with the text. You should try to answer the questions in a figurative sense, not just in a literal sense. In other words, look for the deeper meaning behind each question by asking yourself if there is any symbolism involved.

Preface

  • Analyze the quote "Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion." (vii) In light of what critics of the time had to say about Jane Eyre, what is the thrust of Brontë's response?

Chapter 1

  • What purpose do the descriptive passages from Berwick's History of British Birds serve at this stage of the text?
  • What are your impressions of John Reed? What do you make of the abuse that Jane suffers? Is it realistic?

Chapter 2

  • On page 10, note Jane's thoughts of suicide.
  • Jane Eyre was a watershed novel at the time it was written because it blended two styles of novels: the romantic novel and the gothic novel. According to Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, romanticism emphasized content rather than form; encouraged "freedom of treatment," "introspection," and celebrated "nature, the common man, and freedom of the spirit." The same source defines the gothic novel as a type of fiction "characterized by picturesque settings; an atmosphere of mystery, gloom, and terror; supernatural or fantastic occurrences; and violent and macabre events." Where do you see both elements in the novel so far?
  • Jane's fears of the ghost are consistent with her vivid imagination; yet the ghost never appears, and Jane is returned to cruel reality.

Chapter 3

  • Most readers of today are familiar with the signs of child abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. While these terms were arguably unknown to Brontë in the mid 19th century, how does her treatment of Jane reflect what we know about them?

Chapter 4

  • On page 26, what is unexpected in Jane1s answer to how she plans to avoid going to Hell?
  • How does the anecdote of the "little psalm angel" (26) heighten our contempt for Brocklehurst?
  • Why does Bessie begin to treat Jane with kindness at this point in the text? What lesson does Jane learn on how to deal with people she fears? How is this unusual when compared with the depiction of the other children of this time period, such as the "little psalm angel" and the "girls of the school" (27-8)?

Chapter 5

  • On page 40, notice "Jane's" first direct address of the "reader."
  • How does Miss Temple fit in with your expectations of her from Brocklehurst's interview with Jane? In fact, how does her character compare to most of the other adult characters encountered in the text so far?

Chapter 6

  • In this chapter, Jane receives another lesson in strength, this time from Helen Burns. What do you think of Burns' diction and speech? What do you think of her philosophy?

Chapter 7

  • What do you think of Mr. Brocklehurst's philosophy of education in this chapter?
  • Discuss Brontë's feelings on the "nature of man" (60). Is she being serious or tongue-in-cheek?

Chapter 8

  • Compare Jane Eyre to other mistreated heroines from children's stories (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White). Knowing that Jane Eyre is the novel that broke many rules about how a mistreated heroine should act, compare and contrast them to Jane.

Chapter 9

  • Pay attention to the lush descriptions of Miss Temple in chapter 8 and spring at Lowood in chapter 9. How would descriptions like these affect readers in the mid 19th century? How do they affect readers of today?
  • Notice the parallels between life at Lowood in the spring and Jane's new lifestyle. How is this "pathetic fallacy" a form of foreshadowing?

Chapter 10

  • Read the first paragraph of chapter 10. If Brontë means that she has only related events that are important, what are those important events and how are they important to Jane's development as a character?
  • What do you think of Jane's prayers for a "new servitude"?
  • What can you make of Bessie's character in her differing reactions to Jane's looks and her abilities? What is the effect that Brontë is trying to convey to the reader?
  • Pay attention to the appearance of a mysterious Mr. Eyre.

Chapter 11

  • What do you make of the first two paragraphs in chapter 11? Analyze this passage with regard to literary theory and the nature of the narrator.
  • What affect does Mrs. Fairfax's description of Rochester have on the reader? How does Brontë achieve this affect?

Chapter 12

  • Read the passages on pages 100-101. What do you make of them? What is the link between the paragraphs? What opinions does Brontë show here, and how does she direct them through these paragraphs?

Chapter 13

  • How has Thornfield changed with the arrival of Mr. Rochester? What is the significance of this?
  • On page 110, as well as other places in the text, Brontë makes liberal use of French in her dialogue. What does this say about her audience? How do you compare to that audience?
  • Rochester studies Jane's paintings on pages 115-117. What do you make of the paintings? What does this incident add to the story?
  • Comment on the character and appearance of Rochester. How does he measure up to other romantic heroes?

Chapter 14

  • When Rochester says he is "paving hell with energy" and that he is "laying down good intentions," he is alluding to an old saying: "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." This quote has been attributed to Karl Marx, but I think it has been around longer than that. However, this might make an interesting jumping-off point for someone to analyze Jane Eyre from a Marxist perspective.
  • This chapter gives more insight on the nature of Rochester through his battle of wits with Jane. What is revealed about Rochester here? What is the outcome of their conversation?

Chapter 15

  • Why does Jane become more affectionate and tolerant of Adèle, both literally and figuratively?
  • We see that something odd is going on at Thornfield with Rochester's demand that he "like it if he can"(133), the strange laughter, and the attempt on his life.
  • Note at the end of the chapter the change in the relationship between Jane and Rochester.

Chapter 16

  • The discussion of Miss Blanche Ingram between Jane and Mrs. Fairfax should recall Rochester's opinions of love and jealousy in his romance with Adèle1s mother, Céline Varens.
  • What do you make of Jane creating a harsh piece of artwork for herself and a lovely piece of artwork depicting Miss Ingram?

Chapter 17

  • Beginning with the serving of coffee on page 162, Brontë shifts her narrative into the present tense. Why does she do this, and what is the effect on the reader?
  • How does Brontë transmit the characters of the Ingram ladies successfully to the reader?

Jane Eyre Study Guide Ch18-38

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Analyze the quote "Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion." (vii) In light of what critics of the time had to say about Jane Eyre, what is the thrust of Brontë's response?