This section looks at the language, structure and form used in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
The novel Jane Eyre is self-conscious and narrative – Jane refers to herself as a writer and to the reader at various points, most famously at the end when she opens with the last chapter with the words‘ Reader, I married him.’ She draws attention to both narrator and reader (in Chapter 35 she openly states‘ the reader shall judge’) creating a relationship between the two which generates empathy with and a sympathy for Jane.
Journey’s feature both figuratively and literally in the novel. Jane’s movement to new locations throughout the novel reflects her spiritual and moral growth.
Place names are significant within the novel – Lowood for instance could symbolise the lowest point in Jane’s life.
The novel’s narrative uses both past and present tense for different effects.
There are numerous examples of gothic episodes in the novel including: the red room, Jane’s first meeting with Rochester, the visit to Bertha in the attic and Jane’s desperate journey to Marsh House.
Structure and Form
The novel’s structure can be described as Bildungsroman – a novel which follows the moral and spiritual growth of the protagonist in the form of a journey whereby the character finds their role and place in the world once they have discovered their ‘true self’ and identity. In the case of Jane Eyre this is also true of Rochester and in this respect it is a double bildungsroman.
It can also be viewed as a romance novel at the heart of Jane Eyre is a romance with a brooding, unfulfilled Byronic hero and a passionate heroine who yearns for love and security. Their love emerges triumphant after a series of moral trials which they have had to overcome in order to be rewarded with each other and a life of happiness together.
Also as a social critique, there are strands of social criticism throughout the novel: education, class divisions, the treatment of women, colonialist attitudes and social and economic injustice (including inherited wealth).
It is also considered a semi -autobiographical novel - Jane Eyre was first published as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography. Although it is not an autobiography because Jane is a fictional character, it can be described as semiautobiographical because certain events, places, situations and characters in the novel are taken from Brontë’s own experience. It is said that Jane bears a strong similarity to Charlotte Brontë herself.