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Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

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Literary motifs and allusions

Jane Eyre uses many motifs from Gothic fiction, such as the Gothic manor (Thornfield Hall), the Byronic hero (Mr. Rochester) and The Madwoman in the Attic (Bertha), whom Jane perceives as resembling "the foul German spectre—the Vampyre" (Chapter XXV) and who attacks her own brother in a distinctly vampiric way: "She sucked the blood: she said she'd drain my heart" (Chapter XX). The mystery of Thornfield Hall with its dark secrets creates a typically Gothic atmosphere of suspense. When resolved, we then get the theme of madness, also common in Gothic fiction, as is the motif of two characters, John Reed and Bertha Mason, who commit suicide. Although the novel contains no overt supernatural occurrences, hints of apparently supernatural happenings are frequently mentioned such as Jane's prophetic dreams, her sense of the ghost of her uncle, the lightning striking the chestnut tree on the night she agrees to marry Mr. Rochester, and Jane and Mr. Rochester being able to hear each other's call over miles of separation when St John forces Jane into a decision to marry him.

Jane Eyre also combines Gothicism with romanticism to create a distinctive Victorian novel. Jane and Rochester are attracted to each other, but there are impediments to their love. The conflicting personalities of the two lead characters and the norms of society are an obstacle to their love, as often occurs in romance novels, but so also is Rochester's secret marriage to Bertha, the main Gothic element of the story.

Literary allusions from the Bible, fairy tales, The Pilgrim's Progress, Paradise Lost, and the novels and poetry of Sir Walter Scott are also much in evidence.[14] John Reed is compared to Caligula. Jane is compared to Guy Fawkes. Both Biblical figures like Samson and figures from Greek myths such as Apollo are referred to at various times.

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