Jane Eyre

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The Spiritual and the Supernatural Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
Social Class and Social Rules Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Feeling vs. Judgment Theme Icon
The Spiritual and the Supernatural Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Jane Eyre, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
The Spiritual and the Supernatural Theme Icon

Brontë uses many themes of Gothic novels to add drama and suspense to Jane Eyre. But the novel isn't just a ghost story because Brontë also reveals the reasons behind supernatural events. For instance, Mr. Reed's ghost in the red-room is a figment of Jane's stressed-out mind, while Bertha is the "demon" in Thornfield. In Jane Eyre, the effects of the supernatural matter more than the causes. The supernatural allows Brontë to explore her characters' psyches, especially Jane's inner fears. The climactic supernatural moment in the novel occurs when Jane and Rochester have a telepathic connection. In the text, Jane makes it clear that the connection was not supernatural to her. Instead, she considers that moment a mysterious spiritual connection. Brontë makes their telepathy part of her conceptions of love and religion.

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The Spiritual and the Supernatural Quotes in Jane Eyre

Below you will find the important quotes in Jane Eyre related to the theme of The Spiritual and the Supernatural.
Chapter 2 Quotes
Returning, I had to cross before the looking-glass; my fascinated glance involuntarily explored the depth it revealed. All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: … the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the effect of a real spirit.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Red-Room, Portraits and Pictures
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Locked in the red-room after her outburst against John Reed, Jane Eyre looks into the mirror and thinks about the dire straits in which she finds herself, now that her kindly uncle has died and she is a ward of a family that hates her. Here Jane looks at herself as if at a stranger - and, what's more, as if at a ghost. In some ways, this effect of estrangement, or making the familiar strange, underlines how isolated and alone Jane feels. She cannot feel herself a part of this family, but has nowhere else to turn, no one else to love her; and as a child, she must continue to rely on others. 

This passage also sets up an interest in the otherworldly that will characterize the rest of the book. Even the most realistic, bodily characters can slip into and out of a feeling of grounded reality - one that can easily feel not so real when the circumstances become strange enough.

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Chapter 4 Quotes
Ere I had finished this reply, my soul began to expand, to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible bond had burst, and that I had struggled out into unhoped-for liberty.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

During an interview between Jane, Mrs. Reed, and the headmaster of the Lowood school, Mr. Brocklehurst, Mrs. Reed warns Mr. Brocklehurst that Jane is a compulsive liar. Jane, almost in spite of herself, exclaims that Mrs. Reed is the real liar, and a despicable person besides. Up until this point, Jane has largely retained control of her feelings, keeping her despair and unhappiness inside (except, perhaps, for the one time she lashed out at John). Now she does not feel guilty for letting her feelings override her sense of propriety, but rather relieved and exuberant.

The rest of the book will take a more measured tone on the proper balance between feeling and judgment. Indeed, since Jane is a girl in nineteenth-century England, such shows of passion are to be considered shocking if not dangerous. Here, though, Jane is shown to be so repressed and so unhappy that a rude outburst is really her only chance to express herself, to regain some sense of her own person above and beyond the cruel way she's been treated. Her declaration of the truth about Mrs. Reed is the first time that she senses that things may not always remain as they were, and that she might be able to set her own standards for what is right, outside the confines of the Reed family. 

Chapter 8 Quotes
The refreshing meal, the brilliant fire, the presence and kindness of her beloved instructress, or, perhaps, more than all these, something in her own unique mind, had roused her powers within her … [Helen] suddenly acquired a beauty more singular than that of Miss Temple's—a beauty neither of fine color nor long eyelash, nor pencilled brow, but of meaning, of movement, of radiance.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Maria Temple, Helen Burns
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

Helen and Ms. Temple have reacted to Jane's story with grace and goodness, and after the shame of Mr. Brocklehurst's visit, Jane begins to recover. Even the tea and cakes given to her by Miss Temple are a sign of generosity until now largely absent in Jane's life. Now, she begins to feel that this particularly female bond is actually giving her the strength to carry on - a strength that has something mystical or spiritual about it, as Jane connects it to a sense of her budding "powers."

Although Jane has long been an admirer of Miss Temple's beauty, she now starts to realize as well that there can be an even more striking beauty that comes from inner, rather than external, attractiveness. Helen is the most devout person she's ever met, and her religion seems to give her a kind of physical as well as spiritual glow. As she further develops her friendship with both Helen and with Miss Temple, Jane learns certain lessons and chooses certain role models that were simply not available to her in the Reed family's home.

Chapter 11 Quotes
While I paced softly on, the last sound I expected to hear in so still a region, a laugh, struck my ear. It was a curious laugh; distinct, formal, mirthless. I stopped: the sound ceased, only for an instant; it began again, louder: for at first, though distinct, it was very low. It passed off in a clamorous peal that seemed to wake an echo in every lonely chamber; though it originated but in one, and I could have pointed out the door whence the accents issued.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Bertha Mason
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane is attempting to settle into her new life at Thornfield, but as Mrs. Fairfax finishes up her tour, Jane hears something entirely unexpected in such a quiet, gloomy house: laughter. Here the supernatural quality of the scene is, paradoxically, described in careful, measured detail. Jane attempts to determine the exact qualities of the laugh, the exact properties of its pitch and location. Indeed, she is soon able to fix her judgment on the exact spot from which the sound is coming.

For now, Brontë keeps the reader, as well as Jane, in the dark regarding this mysterious element of Thornfield. Rather than showing the laugh to be a figment of Jane's imagination, this passage stresses her careful capacity of judgment, underlining the book's understanding of the supernatural and the real as not opposites but as mutually productive.

Chapter 20 Quotes
What crime was this that lived incarnate in this sequestered mansion, and could neither be expelled nor subdued by the owner?—what mystery, that broke out now in fire and now in blood, at the deadest hours of night? What creature was it, that, masked in an ordinary woman's face and shape, uttered the voice, now of a mocking demon, and anon of a carrion-seeking bird of prey?
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Bertha Mason
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane has accompanied Rochester to Grace Poole's upper-floor room, where they have found Mr. Mason bleeding and writhing. While Rochester goes to fetch a doctor, Jane is left alone with Mr. Mason and with her own thoughts. This chapter had begun with a frightening scream that had echoed through the mansion, and Jane now wildly begins to wonder what might be the source of such a cry.

In a series of questions, posed far more out of anxiety and fear than out of a scientific desire to get to the bottom of the mystery, Jane becomes progressively more eloquent and descriptive, even if morbidly so. She calls the source of the scream a "mystery," "creature," and "voice," thus underlining how she has only the vaguest sense of what has taken place. The book leaves us, too, in suspense: will the novel now turn even more to the assumptions of Gothic fiction, and embrace the supernatural, or will it remain within the realm of realistic prose? 

Chapter 23 Quotes
I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.
Related Characters: Edward Fairfax Rochester (speaker), Jane Eyre
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

Rochester has told Jane that he is to marry Blanche, and that he has found a governess job for her in Ireland. Soon, though, it becomes clear that Rochester's motivations in telling this to Jane are different. He seems to be attempting to determine what her feelings for him are, before he shares his own. If Jane doesn't share them, he has a ready-made solution and can send her away - thus ensuring that his social superiority over her escapes unscathed. Here, though, Rochester does make tentative steps towards suggesting that he loves Jane.

Though not exactly eloquently, he tries to do justice to the feeling he has around Jane, a feeling that proves to be almost too difficult for words. In general, this sentiment is one of profound unity between two people: Rochester feels such so closely tied to Jane that it is as if a truly physical bond united them. The book accepts that such unity can exist, and indeed describes it in terms of spiritual communion, which gives Rochester and Jane a religious analogy for the love they feel for each other.

Chapter 25 Quotes
I faced the wreck of the chestnut-tree; it stood up black and riven: the trunk, split down the centre, gaped ghastly … their great boughs on each side were dead, and next winter's tempests would be sure to fell one or both to earth: as yet, however, they might be said to form one tree—a ruin, but an entire ruin.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire and Ice
Page Number: 318
Explanation and Analysis:

On the day of the wedding, Jane wanders outside and sees a chestnut tree that has been struck by lightning. Turning all her powers of observation on the tree, Jane finds it to be a powerful image, though at the same time ominous and troubling. The tree is in a vulnerable, delicate state at the moment: its many boughs are dead, but have not yet fallen to earth, though it is inevitable that they will do so. Trees struck by lightning are sometimes used in the Bible as a sign for the power and will of God. Jane, cognizant of this history, most likely is troubled by the thought that, on a day that should be joyful and carefree, there is such a frightening symbol of what may lie ahead. The "ruin" of the tree, for a reader who has finished Jane Eyre, also foreshadows the ruin of the place that she and Rochester call home. Although the novel ends up revealing certain supernatural-seeming elements as based in reality (though still disturbing), in other ways it continues to stress the possibility of connecting natural, supernatural, and social affairs symbolically.