In the Gothic literary tradition, the narrative structure of a text is meant to evoke a sense of horror or suspense, often through the use of the supernatural, hidden secrets, mysterious characters, and dark passion. Brontë incorporates each of these elements into the novel and especially highlights the importance of the mysterious Byronic hero in the form of Mr. Rochester. Brontë also emphasizes the Gothic nature of Thornfield Hall and incorporates the figure of the Madwoman in the Attic as the primary conflict of the novel. Brontë uses these Gothic elements as a way to heighten the tension and emotion over the course of the narrative, as well as to reveal an almost supernatural connection between Jane and Mr. Rochester.
Is Jane Eyre a likable protagonist? Why or why not?
Jane is an atypical heroine for the Victorian period, and even for contemporary literature, because she is not beautiful in a traditional sense. Unlike Georgiana and Blanche Ingram, who are each lauded as exceptional beauties in the text, Jane is small and slight, with ordinary features and a slightly elvish appearance. With that in mind, Jane is particularly likable protagonist because she is not an idealized figure; her personal and physical faults make her seem more realistic and allow readers to relate to her more closely. At the same time, however, Jane's firm morality and harsh rejection of Mr. Rochester may seem rather cold and unlikable to the more passionate readers. Still, Jane's independent spirit and courage against all obstacles ensure that she is a protagonist to be valued and encouraged.
How does Jane Eyre compare to Bertha Mason?
As the stereotypical Madwoman in the Attic, Bertha is presented as a clear antagonist to Jane in the novel. Not only does she personify the chaos and dark animal sensuality that contrasts so sharply to Jane's calm morality, Bertha is ultimately the sole obstacle between Jane and Mr. Rochester and their eventual happiness. However, while Jane and Bertha seem to be wholly distinct from each other, Bronte does suggest that the two characters have significant similarities. Although Jane is calm and controlled as an adult, she exhibits much of the same passion and bestiality as a child that Bertha displays in her madness. Moreover, though Jane leaves Thornfield rather than become Mr. Rochester's mistress, she still possesses the same qualities of sensuality as Bertha but is simply more successful at suppressing them.
How does the novel comment on the position of women in Victorian society?
As a woman, Jane is forced to adhere to the strict expectations of the time period. Thought to be inferior to men physically and mentally, women could only hope to achieve some sort of power through marriage. As a governess, Jane suffers under an even more rigid set of expectations that highlight her lower-class status. With this social construct in mind, Jane has a submissive position to a male character until the very end of the novel. At Lowood, she is subservient to Mr. Brocklehurst; at Moor House, she is under the direct control of St. John Rivers; and even at Thornfield, she is in a perpetually submissive position to Mr. Rochester. Over the course of the narrative, Jane must escape from each of these inferior positions in an effort to gain her own independence from male domination. After her uncle leaves her his fortune, Jane is able to achieve this independence and can marry Mr. Rochester on her own terms, as an equal. Yet, Bronte emphasizes that Jane's sudden inheritance and resulting happy ending are not typical for women during the time period. Under most circumstances, Jane would be forced to maintain a subservient position to men for her entire life, either by continuing her work as a governess or by marrying an oppressive husband.
Considering his treatment of Bertha Mason, is Mr. Rochester a sympathetic or unsympathetic