Questions for Jane Eyre


chapter 1

RL.4 What symbolic meaning is there in this description of the desolate landscape of the arctic? 

RL.3 Why does Bronte represent John as a glutton? 

RL.2 In this passage, Bronte is setting up one of the novel's main themes: the class system. John describe's Jane as a dependent and himself as the child of a gentleman. What do these terms, dependent and gentleman, mean? 

RL.2 The violent fight between John and Jane in this opening chapter sets up another of the novel's main themes: gender relations. What does Jane's reaction to John tell us about her? Does her reaction contrast with what would be expected of females at the time? 

chapter 2

RL.4 What is a benefactress in this case? Why would Mrs. Reed be described as Jane's benefactress? 

RL.4 How does this choice of language, "your place to be humble," reflect the class consciousness of the period? 

RL.2 In this passage, Bronte begins developing another theme: the conflation of fantasy and reality. What does Jane imagine she sees when she looks in the mirror? Does Jane see herself, or at least imagine herself, as a magical figure? How does this relate to the escapism she employs to bear the cold emotional life she leads with the Reeds? 

RL.2 This paragraph is important as it not only begins a period of self-reflection for Jane, but also reveals her logical thinking. She tries to be good, but is punished, while the other children exhibit numerous faults, but are praised. Is Bronte using this passage to question conventional wisdom? Is the author revealing society's hypocrisy through a ten-year-old girl's understanding of fairness? Be mindful of the author's tendency to expose society's falseness and insincerity. 

RL.2 Gothic fiction was a creative extension of nineteenth-century romanticism and conflated elements of both horror/terror and romance. Make a list of the features of and beliefs about the red room. Do these features match usual gothic imagery? 

chapter 3

RL.4 Does the symbolic importance of the color red change in this paragraph? While it was a sense of fear in the previous chapter, is it a sense of comfort here? 

RL.3 Mr. Lloyd, an outsider in relation to the Reed family and household, constituted a sense of relief and comfort for Jane, a relief that disappeared once he left the room. Does Bronte effectively capture here the oppression Jane felt not only by the Reed family, but by the house and grounds of Gateshead Hall as well? 

RL.2 How does this passage show us that a mature Jane is narrating the story and recounting what happened in the Reed household from an adult's perspective? 

RL.3 Why did Jane take so much pleasure in the fantasy world of books? 

RL.4 What story does this song tell? How does it relate to Jane's situation? Jane is not happy with the song. Do you think she seeks comfort in the notion that heaven will provide her a home? Or, does she want a home while she is still on Earth? 

RL.3 This passage reveals a moment of Jane's honest reflection. Though she desires freedom and escape from Gateshead Hall, she is not willing to sacrifice all comfort for it. What does this illustrate about Jane's ideals for life beyond Gateshead? 

RL.3 Why does Jane consider school, rather than living with poor relations, a more suitable mode of escape from Gateshead Hall? 

RL.2 The ending of this chapter brings to light one of the most unconventional aspects of Bronte's novel, namely, the fact that Jane, the heroine, is not pretty, but rather a "little toad." Beauty and social rank typically defined a woman's standing in Victorian patriarchy (consider the brief description of Georgiana's beauty and the praise heaped on her because of it). Make a list of Jane's qualities. Though she is plain and without family, what qualities does she possess? 

chapter 4

RL.2 Jane's impertinence to Mrs. Reed elevates to a new level her rebellion against the tyranny of the Reed family. While before she reacted to the children, she now berates Mrs. Reed herself. Is it important that Jane invokes her deceased Uncle Reed, a supernatural being, in her reproach of Mrs. Reed? Is Jane appealing to an authority that exceeds even Mrs. Reed's power? 

RL.4 Are Jane's feelings toward the doll at all similar to the escapism she enjoys in novels? Does Jane confuse fantasy and reality? 

RL.4 Bronte describes this man as a "black pillar" with a "grim face" which is like a "carved mask". He is a "stony stranger." Is he the opposite of the fiery, passionate Jane? What does this first impression foretell of this new character? 

RL.4 Re-read how Bronte describes Mr. Brocklehurst from the young Jane's close-up perspective. What fairy-tale figure does he represent? 

RL.5 This is Jane's first encounter with a figure from organized religion. She disagrees with him over preferences of the books of the Bible. What does this disagreement signal or foretell? At this point, how do you imagine Jane will relate to mainstream religion throughout the novel?  

RL.3 Considering her station in life at this point, what are Jane's prospects? 

RL.4 Contrast Jane, who is "shaking from head to foot, thrilled with ungovernable excitement," with the icy Mrs. Reed. Is Jane more alive than her antagonists? 

RL.3 What does Mrs. Reed fear more Jane's passion or the possibility of being exposed in public for mistreating her dependent?

RL.3 Jane is at first pleased with herself for reproaching Mrs. Reed. But why does she feel bad later even acknowledging that it left a "metallic and corroding" taste in her? Does she regret rebuking Mrs. Reed specifically? Or, is she realizing that letting loose her fiery side does not in the end make her happy? 

RL.5 Why do Bessie and Jane become friends by the chapter's end? 

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