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-In what ways is Jane Eyre influenced by the tradition of the Gothic novel?

What do the Gothic
elements contribute to the novel?
-What do the names mean in Jane Eyre? Some names to consider include: Jane Eyre, Gateshead,
Lowood, Thornfield, Reed, Rivers, Miss Temple, and Ferndean.
-Discuss Jane as a narrator and as a character. What sort of voice does she have? How does she
represent her own actions? Does she seem to be a trustworthy storyteller, or does Brontë require us to
read between the lines of her narrative? In light of the fact that people who treat Jane cruelly (John
Reed, Mrs. Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst) all seem to come to unhappy endings, what role does Jane play as
the novel’s moral center?
-In what ways might Jane Eyre be considered a feminist novel? What points does the novel make
about the treatment and position of women in Victorian society? With particular attention to the
book’s treatment of marriage, is there any way in which it might be considered anti-feminist?
-What role does Jane’s ambiguous social position play in determining the conflict of her story? What
larger points, if any, does the novel make about social class? Does the book criticize or reinforce
existing Victorian social prejudices? Consider the treatment of Jane as a governess, but also of the
other servants in the book, along with Jane’s attitude toward her impoverished students at Morton
-Compare and contrast some of the characters who serve as foils throughout Jane Eyre: Blanche to
Jane, St. John to Rochester, and, perhaps, Bertha to Jane. Also think about the points of comparison
between the Reed and Rivers families. How do these contrasts aid the development of the book’s
-Explain the importance of paranormal experiences in the novel. What do the characters learn from
dreams and visions? How do these experiences modify your understanding of the characters? How do
the supernatural elements interact with the novel's realism?
-Discuss the representations of the various women in the novel: Mrs. Reed, Miss Temple, Céline
Varens, Blanche Ingram, Bertha Mason, and Diana and Mary Rivers. What does Jane learn about
proper feminine behavior from these women? Which are positive role models? Negative?
-Explore Jane's ideas of religion. What does she learn about Christianity from Helen Burns, Mr.
Brocklehurst, and St. John Rivers? How do their views of Christianity contrast with hers? What
problems does she see in their values?
-Discuss two scenes that show the ambiguity of Jane's social class. What are Jane's opinions of the
upper classes and the lower classes? What does the novel say about the social class system in
England? Does Brontë critique the system or support it?
-The narrator in the novel is an older Jane remembering her childhood. Find a few places where the
voice of the older Jane intrudes on the narrative. What is the effect of this older voice's intrusions on
the story? Does it increase or decrease your sympathy for the young Jane?
-Analyze the importance of the five major places Jane lives on her journey: Gateshead, Lowood,
Thornfield, Moor House/Marsh End, and Ferndean. What do their names signify? What lessons does
Jane learn at each place? Jane provides detailed descriptions of the natural world around each place:
What do these descriptions reveal about their character?

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