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Introduction to Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte, Romanticism/Gothicism, Victorian England, etc.
Transcript of Introduction to Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte, Romanticism/Gothicism, Victorian England, etc.
Unit 3: Jane Eyre
father: a reverend
attended Clergy Daughter's School at Cowan Bridge until two of her sisters died there
Periodically worked as a governess
1846: Charlotte discovered Emily's poetry and the three sisters published a collection of their poetry as Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (male pseudonyms)
Jane Eyre (Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (Emily) and Agnes Grey (Ann) published (as the Bells)
1854: father marries her to a reverend she does not love
1855: Charlotte dies
Jane Eyre: plot overview
An orphan, Jane is raised by her maternal uncle's widow
Sent to Lowood, a school for orphaned and/or poor girls
After working at Lowood as a teacher, Jane places an ad seeking work as a governess, and is hired at Thornfield
Parallels to Charlotte Brontë's life
Jane: character details
1st person narration: reliable?
physically plain: indicates her strong morals
opinionated but humble
approaches life as a student, eager to learn
early critical response: negative
set in North England at beginning of 1800s
Industrial Revolution —> profound change
Brontë uses the novel to comment on three major issues of the time: education, women's employment opportunities, and marriage
Haworth Village, home of the Brontë family
Romantic or Victorian?: A blend
View of Nature
Inward/Individual, common man, imagination, introspection
Outward/nation, middle class, reality, work
1. Charity begins at home.
2. A woman’s place is at home.
3. People are often judged based on their
social class or level of wealth.
4. A loving family can be worth more than affluence.
5. Young women should not marry men who are much older than they are.
6. A person's past determines his/her future; we cannot escape our origins or our mistakes.
rejection of clarity, rationalism
joys of extreme emotion
thrills of fearlessness
awe of atmosphere
inevitable decay/collapse of human creation
terror, mystery, the supernatural, madness, death, superstition, secrets, and hereditary curses
stock characters: Byronic hero, tyrant, maniacs, femme fatale, persecuted maiden, fallen angels
Gothic: Horror with Romance
Notable Neo-Gothic edifices: top: Palace of Westminster, London; left: Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh; right: Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk, Ostend.
Queen Victoria (reigned 1837-1901)
slavery abolished 1833
sexual restraint, low tolerance for crime, strict social codes
homosexuality a capital offense until 1861; queer theory has its roots here (see: Foucault)
YET: increase in child labor and prostitution
"noblesse oblige" - belief that the wealthy have a duty to the poor
Marx's theories = reaction to Victorian Britain and its class divisions
other prominent writers: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen