- After reading the lecture, answer one of the main questions, which will appear in bold type. This question is due no later than Thursday, April 12. Following that will be other questions, in black, which you should read and think about--they may help you answer the main question. However, you are not required to answer these questions in writing.
- Your responses to other students' answers are due by midnight on Sunday, April 15. Remember: in order to get the full 20 points, you MUST respond thoughtfully to at least 3 or 4 other people's postings. This set of discussion questions is worth a possible 20 points.
- Late answers and responses receive 0 points, so post early :)
We will be using the Canvas Discussion Board for this class. Click on the link below to get to the Canvas portal, sign in, and then click on the box for this class. You will find the "Discussions" link on the left side of the screen:
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
1. Jean Rhys's novel, The Wide Sargasso Sea, is a modern retelling of the Rochester-Bertha story, from Bertha's point of view. This novel makes it clear that Bertha's madness is largely Rochester's doing. Do you find anything in Jane Eyre that would support such a point of view?
2. Jane certainly deviates from some of the social standards of her time about what roles women should play; we know, also, that Charlotte Bronte, like her character, chafed against the restrictions she faced because she was a woman. Is Jane Eyre, then, a "feminist" novel? Explain.
3. Some critics have seen the numerous coincidences in the novel as a weakness. They especially point to Jane's ending up at the Rivers household, to her "hearing" Rochester's voice in the garden, and to Bertha's ever-so-convenient death. Do you feel that the coincidences in the novel weaken it?
- How does Bronte create sympathy for Jane immediately?
- How does the weather, throughout the novel, function?
- How important is Jane's appearance to her character? Jane thinks she is ugly; is this confirmed by others in the novel?
- Does Mrs. Reed treat Jane badly because she thinks she deserves it, or because she believes it is good for her? Is her conscience clear?
- Where does Jane's shyness come from?
- In this novel, how do people's looks reflect their characters?
- What clues, besides his looks, are you given to Brocklehurst's character right away? How does Bronte make Brocklehurst hateful?
- What parts of Helen Burns's doctrine does Jane adopt for herself?
- Who put a grave marker on Helen Burns's grave? What does "Resurgam" mean?
- Jane tells of her childhood, and then skips 8 years to the time when she gets the job with Rochester. Why tell of her childhood at all? Why not just begin with Rochester?
- What is the first indication that Jane has other relatives?
- What is Bronte's purpose in creating such a strong contrast between the view and the inside of the house?
- What is the first indication that something may be amiss at Thornfield? Does Mrs. Fairfax know the truth?
- Charlotte Bronte, like most English people at the time, had strong prejudices against the French. How are these prejudices revealed in Jane Eyre?
- Take a close look at Jane's first meeting with Rochester. In the typical Gothic novel, or in the typical fairy tale, how do the man and woman typically meet? How do they act? How does Charlotte Bronte violate these conventions in this scene?
- In their second meeting, what is Rochester's attitude toward Jane? What is her response? What does Bronte intend to convey to the reader by having her two characters converse about fairies? He blames her for his horse's fall; is that fair? Why does he do it?
- How do Rochester's behaviour and character change during the course of the novel?
- What is Rochester's attitude toward Adele?
- How does Jane respond to Rochester's attempt to boss her around?
- In Victorian society, it was assumed that men were crude and active; women were passive, pure, and spiritual. Do Jane and Rochester fit into these stereotypes?
- What are the clues that there may be more than meets the eye at Thornfield?
- Why is Jane attracted to Rochester?
- How do Jane's feelings for Rochester develop and change over time? How does Jane try to deny and resist her feelings for him?
- What role does money play in their relationship? How does Rochester try to gain more influence over Jane by using money?
- Why is the interlude with the Reeds set into this portion of the novel? What does Jane learn about herself? What does the reader learn about Jane?
- When do you begin to suspect Rochester's feelings for Jane?
- What hints or omens of evil attend their marriage plans?
- Why does Jane hold Rochester at arm's length during their courtship? Does this mean she doesn't love him?
- Jane sees Rochester almost as a god; is this, in the context of the novel, a good or bad thing? What hints are given that Jane is deceiving herself about Rochester?
- How did Mason find out about the upcoming marriage between Jane and Rochester?
- What secret does Mason reveal on Jane's wedding day?
- How does Jane react to Mason's story? How does Rochester react?
- Take a close look at the scene between Jane and Rochester after Jane emerges from her room. How does Rochester try to manipulate Jane into doing what he wants her to do? What makes her able to resist him?
- When Jane leaves Thornfield, where does she go? What is the symbolic significance of her journey? Where does she end up?
- Many critics have said that this section of the novel--the part she spends with the Rivers family--is the weakest part of the novel. Do you agree?
- How does the Rivers family differ from the Reed family?
- Why does St. John Rivers's attention to Jane become a burden to her? She likes to be productive; why does she not feel satisfied by her work with St. John?
- How is St. John different from Rochester? Which would society, in general, say is the better man? What is Bronte's point in making them so different?
- Why does St. John want to marry Jane? Why does she refuse him?
- What makes her return to Thornfield? What does she find when she gets there?
- How have the events of his life changed Rochester? How does Jane feel about him now?
- Why doesn't Jane tell Rochester right away how she feels about him?
- Why (aside from his wife's death) does Jane agree to marry Rochester now? What reservations did she have before, that have now been removed?
- Does the novel have a "happily ever after" ending?
- What is Bronte saying in this novel about the role of women in her society?
- Jane Eyre begins as a penniless orphan, and ends up with a very good life. How does she gain the personal power that leads her to happiness?