Jane Eyre

by

Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre: Mood 1 key example

Definition of Mood
The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes in the reader. Every aspect of a piece of writing... read full definition
The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes in the reader. Every aspect... read full definition
The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes... read full definition
Chapter 21
Explanation and Analysis—Ominous and Confessional:

The prevailing mood of the novel is ominous and confessional, with descriptions that often bring to life Jane's inner sense of angst about her future. For example, in Chapter 21, Jane worries that the dreams she has been having about an infant are ominous premonition:

It was a wailing child this night, and a laughing one the next: now it nestled close to me, and now it ran from me; but whatever mood the apparition evinced, whatever aspect it wore, it failed not for seven successive nights to meet me the moment I entered the land of slumber.

Jane does not quite know how to interpret what her mind is telling her, but she has the sense that it is important. As it turns out, she is about to return to Gateshead, where she spent the first and most turbulent part of her childhood. Her mind is nagging her about the confrontation she is about to have with her complicated and difficult past.

Asides sprinkled throughout the novel, in which the narrator (an older version of Jane) addresses the reader directly, emphasize how intensely personal the narrator gets as she recounts her life. She is not only recounting the events of her life, but also confessing the thought processes and emotions that went along with these events. On the one hand, this confessional aspect of the novel makes the reader suspicious about the truth of Jane's narrative. On the other hand, it creates an intense link of trust between the narrator and the reader. The reader feels like a confidant who is in Jane's memories alongside her. This sense of togetherness is bolstered by Jane's confused sense that her dreams are telling her something. This feeling of confusion and suspicion matches the reader's frequent sense that odd details around Thornfield are going to become significant, and that they might presage danger. Like the child in Jane's dreams, the laughing and strange happenings at Thornfield turn out to mean something: Mr. Rochester has a dark history and a woman locked in his attic.

The mood of the novel lightens a little when Jane moves in with the Rivers family and finally feels herself to be part of a family of her own social class. However, the anxiety cultivated earlier in the novel never quite dissipates and in fact grows more pronounced over time. Longing now for excitement and even danger, Jane often dreams and reads of far moodier places and events while she is ensconced at the cozy cottage. Once again, her reading parallels the reader's escape into Jane's exciting narrative. As Jane moves closer and closer to a well-matched marriage with St. John, the reader might expect the mood to become happier. Because the novel narrates Jane's perspective, and Jane does not feel as though she belongs with the Rivers family as St. John's wife, the mood becomes increasingly unsettled as this "happy ending" approaches. By the time Jane decides to marry Mr. Rochester, the reader likely feels wary of their relationship. This wariness functions as part of the novel's payoff: the reader gets to experience Jane confessing a dangerous decision she made, and the reader gets to return to imagining, with bated breath, what all this could mean for Jane's future.