Jane Eyre

by

Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre: Motifs 5 key examples

Definition of Motif
A motif is an element or idea that recurs throughout a work of literature. Motifs, which are often collections of related symbols, help develop the central themes of a book... read full definition
A motif is an element or idea that recurs throughout a work of literature. Motifs, which are often collections of related symbols, help develop the... read full definition
A motif is an element or idea that recurs throughout a work of literature. Motifs, which are often collections of... read full definition
Chapter 1
Explanation and Analysis—Housing Insecurity:

Housing insecurity is a motif throughout the novel because Jane depends on others to keep a roof over her head. The first hint of housing insecurity occurs on the "drear November day" when Chapter 1 begins:

The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mamma in the drawing-room […]. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group [...] Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves in my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.

Everyone has come into the drawing room to get inside from the chilly winter day. The rain is "ceaseless" and "wild," and the wind blows in "lamentable blasts." The weather outside is so bad that, as the first line of the chapter notes, "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day." The idea of a walk is framed as a leisure activity that rich people might take on a quiet afternoon, but it is also clear that being left outside on a day like this could be life-threatening. Unlike Mrs. Reed's biological children, Jane does not automatically belong "clustered" around Mrs. Reed, sheltered from the storm by a mother who is bound to protect her. Jane relies on Mrs. Reed to keep her inside the protective windows with their "folds of scarlet drapery," but Jane's marginal status means that she will never truly be "separated" from the world outside that protection.

Jane is soon sent to Lowood, another temporary home. Eventually, she must find a way to support herself when she leaves Lowood. This means entering into "a new servitude" as a governess. At Thornfield, Jane's housing is again contingent, this time on her employment and Mr. Rochester's good graces toward her. But as opposed to feeling always on the verge of being turned out, Jane feels "stagnant" and stifled at Thornfield, as though she is stuck there. Mr. Rochester wants to keep her there even when she wants to leave, and so Jane comes to long for housing insecurity and the freedom it has previously given her to forge her own path. The narrator psychologizes her own former longing for housing insecurity in Chapter 12:

What good it would have done me at that time to have been tossed in the storms of an uncertain struggling life, and to have been taught by rough and bitter experience to long for the calm amidst which I now repined!

Jane fights to leave Thornfield and suffers the consequences. After refusing to be Mr. Rochester's mistress and after striking out on her own again, Jane nearly dies without a roof over her head. She recovers in the Rivers family cottage and finally comes to appreciate a certain kind of security. The security she wants is tinged with excitement and freedom. When she eventually marries Mr. Rochester on her own terms, she also rejects a man (St. John) who promises a more stable marriage. With Mr. Rochester in a household they build together from the ground up, Jane finds a mix of security and freedom.

Chapter 2
Explanation and Analysis—Ghosts and Apparitions:

Even though there is a natural explanation for everything that happens in the novel, ghosts and apparitions appear as a motif—manifestations of Jane's inner feelings and anxieties. For example, in Chapter 2, Jane is locked in the red room with what she imagines to be the ghost of Mr. Reed:

[P]repared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings: something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated: endurance broke down; I uttered a wild, involuntary cry; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort.

Jane knows, even as a child, that she is being superstitious. Still, she imagines that she sees Mr. Reed's ghost when she is locked up in the room where he died. In a way, she is haunted by his ghost and the ghosts of her parents. If she wants to hang onto the fantasy of adults loving and protecting her, she must allow these dead people to haunt her. If she doesn't want to be haunted, she must run away from her past.

As Jane gets older, she learns to tamp down her anxiety by reminding herself of the difference between reality and imagination. In Chapter 11, Jane convinces herself not to be "superstitiously afraid" of a mysterious laugh she hears echoing at Thornfield:

[T]he laugh was as tragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard; and, but that it was high noon, and that no circumstance of ghostliness accompanied the curious cachination; but that neither scene nor season favoured fear, I should have been superstitiously afraid.

Jane stops herself from imagining that Thornfield is haunted, willing herself to believe that Bertha's laughing is simply a servant making a noise. Although Jane's ability to calm her own nerves helps her get through the moment, it turns out that she would be wise to listen to her "superstition" in this case. It is not superstition at all, but rather her own ears and intuition telling her that there is something amiss at Thornfield.

As Jane grows into adulthood, her ghosts become less spooky, turning into something like religious visions. In Chapter 27, Jane's mother visits her in a dream and tells her

‘My daughter, flee temptation.’

Jane ultimately decides to heed this warning, and it saves her from being there when Bertha burns down the house. Whereas Jane learned as a young girl that ghostly apparitions were best ignored in favor of "reality," she is now beginning to learn that she should neither ignore nor fear them. Instead, she should follow them to see what they have to tell her. By Chapter 35, Jane's willingness to be "haunted" by ghostly apparitions allows her to hear Mr. Rochester calling her name from an impossible distance.

I saw nothing, but I heard a voice somewhere cry – ‘Jane! Jane! Jane!’ – nothing more.

The climax of the novel, this "apparition" leads Jane away from St. John and back to Mr. Rochester. Thornfield and Mr. Rochester have been cleansed of their gothic ghost, and Jane's "ghosts" have integrated into her as a sort of religious intuition that leads her on to the ending she wants.

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Chapter 9
Explanation and Analysis—Illness and Disability:

Illness and disability serve as a motif in the novel, contributing to the anxious gothic atmosphere. For instance, in Chapter 9, conditions at Lowood leave the students there vulnerable to a horrific typhus outbreak:

Semi-starvation and neglected colds had predisposed most of the pupils to receive infection: forty-five out of the eighty girls lay ill at one time.

Illness was more common in 19th-century England than it is today: there were no antibiotics to treat bacterial infections like typhus, and medical science in general was in a very different place. Although virtually anyone in this time period would have been more vulnerable to disease than people are today, it is also true that, like today, wealth could protect people from disease. The narrator points out that "semi-starvation and neglected colds" create the conditions for more than half of the girls to become infected with typhus. The narrator thus asks readers to be anxious that conditions in charity schools predispose students to worse outbreaks than might happen were more money and care put into the schools.

Helen's own illness, "consumption" (tuberculosis), makes Jane anxious not just about poor living conditions, but about heaven and the afterlife. Later in Chapter 9, Jane speaks with Helen on her deathbed:

‘And shall I see you again, Helen, when I die?’

‘You will come to the same region of happiness: be received by the same mighty universal Parent, no doubt, dear Jane.’

Illness is everywhere, and the stakes are high. Helen is one of the only true friends Jane has ever had. Should Jane suddenly fall gravely ill (which, given how many other students are ill, is more than likely), she needs to be ready to follow Helen to heaven. The prevalence of illness emphasizes the importance that Jane cultivate faith and morality throughout her life.

Just as illness functions as a morality lesson for Jane, disability functions as Mr. Rochester's way to redemption. Mr. Rochester is injured when Jane first meets him. His sprained ankle immediately introduces dependency into their relationship: he must physically lean on her to get his footing. This dependency forces him to give up some of his aloofness and open himself to human connection with Jane. Mr. Rochester's disabilities, here and after the fire later on, are a metaphor at least as much as a genuine representation of disability. Damaged by his first marriage, he needs Jane to nurse him back to social and moral health. His central conflict is learning to rely on her as an equal partner whose opinion and perspective matters. In a way that leaves a great deal of room for critique, his disabilities make room in the novel for Jane to become his disability aid, the feet and eyes that walk him back to the path of morality. Ultimately, the recovery of Mr. Rochester's sight after he has married Jane and had a child with her functions as a cosmic and narrative reward for his spiritual redemption.

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Chapter 10
Explanation and Analysis—Disruptive Marriages:

Although the novel resolves with a marriage, marriages throughout the book are a motif that serves most often to disrupt Jane's life and future. One early example of this disruption occurs in Chapter 10, when Miss Temple leaves Lowood to be a wife:

[D]estiny, in the shape of the Rev. Mr Nasmyth, came between me and Miss Temple: I saw her in her travelling dress step into a post-chaise, shortly after the marriage ceremony. I watched the chaise mount the hill and disappear beyond its brow; and then retired to my own room, and there spent in solitude the greatest part of the half-holiday granted in honour of the occasion.

Some scholars have noted that we might read Jane Eyre as a queer character. Whether or not her attachment to Miss Temple has anything to do with her sexuality, Jane imagines herself in competition with Miss Temple's husband. This marriage disrupts one of the first nurturing relationships Jane has ever had and encourages her to leave Lowood.

At Thornfield, before Bertha is revealed in the attic, Jane also believes that Rochester is going to marry Blanche Ingram. This marriage, too, ignites Jane's jealousy. In Chapter 16, Jane draws twin portraits of herself and Blanche to carry around so that she can remind herself that she does not deserve Rochester's attention:

‘Whenever, in future, you should chance to fancy Mr Rochester thinks well of you, take out these two pictures and compare them: say, “Mr Rochester might probably win that noble lady’s love, if he chose to strive for it; is it likely he would waste a serious thought on this indigent and insignificant plebeian?”'

Once again, the prospect of others' marriage gets in the way of Jane's desires. In order to get over her feelings for Mr. Rochester, Jane must rationalize them away by dwelling on her own unworthiness because of her class status. It is her belief that Mr. Rochester is going to marry Miss Ingram that first leads her to declare that she is going to leave Thornfield. Others' marriages thus pile onto Jane's unhappiness and her feelings that she doesn't belong anywhere.

Of course, the central disruptive marriage is Mr. Rochester's marriage to Bertha. This ill-fated marriage gets in the way of both Jane's and Mr. Rochester's happiness and is the central obstacle in the plot. Jane has no control over all of the marriages that are thwarting her happiness until St. John Rivers proposes to her. Jane realizes that she does not want to be married to St. John, and that marrying him would get in the way of the future she wants with Mr. Rochester. Jane's refusal of St. John's marriage proposal represents a refusal, at last, to neglect her own desires. Even though Bertha must die in a fire before Mr. Rochester is free to marry Jane, Jane's "no" to St. John nonetheless represents the major turning point for Jane's character.

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Chapter 11
Explanation and Analysis—Ghosts and Apparitions:

Even though there is a natural explanation for everything that happens in the novel, ghosts and apparitions appear as a motif—manifestations of Jane's inner feelings and anxieties. For example, in Chapter 2, Jane is locked in the red room with what she imagines to be the ghost of Mr. Reed:

[P]repared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings: something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated: endurance broke down; I uttered a wild, involuntary cry; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort.

Jane knows, even as a child, that she is being superstitious. Still, she imagines that she sees Mr. Reed's ghost when she is locked up in the room where he died. In a way, she is haunted by his ghost and the ghosts of her parents. If she wants to hang onto the fantasy of adults loving and protecting her, she must allow these dead people to haunt her. If she doesn't want to be haunted, she must run away from her past.

As Jane gets older, she learns to tamp down her anxiety by reminding herself of the difference between reality and imagination. In Chapter 11, Jane convinces herself not to be "superstitiously afraid" of a mysterious laugh she hears echoing at Thornfield:

[T]he laugh was as tragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard; and, but that it was high noon, and that no circumstance of ghostliness accompanied the curious cachination; but that neither scene nor season favoured fear, I should have been superstitiously afraid.

Jane stops herself from imagining that Thornfield is haunted, willing herself to believe that Bertha's laughing is simply a servant making a noise. Although Jane's ability to calm her own nerves helps her get through the moment, it turns out that she would be wise to listen to her "superstition" in this case. It is not superstition at all, but rather her own ears and intuition telling her that there is something amiss at Thornfield.

As Jane grows into adulthood, her ghosts become less spooky, turning into something like religious visions. In Chapter 27, Jane's mother visits her in a dream and tells her

‘My daughter, flee temptation.’

Jane ultimately decides to heed this warning, and it saves her from being there when Bertha burns down the house. Whereas Jane learned as a young girl that ghostly apparitions were best ignored in favor of "reality," she is now beginning to learn that she should neither ignore nor fear them. Instead, she should follow them to see what they have to tell her. By Chapter 35, Jane's willingness to be "haunted" by ghostly apparitions allows her to hear Mr. Rochester calling her name from an impossible distance.

I saw nothing, but I heard a voice somewhere cry – ‘Jane! Jane! Jane!’ – nothing more.

The climax of the novel, this "apparition" leads Jane away from St. John and back to Mr. Rochester. Thornfield and Mr. Rochester have been cleansed of their gothic ghost, and Jane's "ghosts" have integrated into her as a sort of religious intuition that leads her on to the ending she wants.

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Explanation and Analysis—Gaslighting:

The term "gaslighting" didn't originate until the 20th century, but it explains well a motif of mental manipulation Jane experiences throughout her life, and especially at Thornfield. For example, in Chapter 11, Mrs. Fairfax deflects Jane's questions about a mysterious "loud laugh" she has heard:

‘Mrs Fairfax!’ I called out – for I now heard her descending the great stairs. ‘Did you hear that loud laugh? Who is it?’

‘Some of the servants, very likely,’ she answered; ‘perhaps Grace Poole.’

‘Did you hear it?’ I again inquired.

Mrs. Fairfax knows that Jane is hearing Bertha, but she won't give her a straight answer. She lets Jane believe she didn't hear anything especially noteworthy, and Jane goes on to reflect that she is a "fool for entertaining a sense even of surprise." The term "gaslighting" originates from Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play Gas Light, which is also set during the Victorian era. In the play, a man manipulates his wife into believing that she is insane. He does this by, among other things, dimming the gas lights in the house and telling his wife that she is imagining it. Although she is not deliberately trying to hurt Jane, Mrs. Fairfax attempts to keep the secrets of Thornfield through a similar manipulation tactic: she makes Jane believe she is a "fool" for noticing the laugh.

Mr. Rochester is the worst perpetrator when it comes to gaslighting. In Chapter 15, he tries to get a pulse on what Jane has seen and heard to figure out what he can make her believe about the fire in his bedroom:

"I forget whether you said you saw anything when you opened your chamber-door."

"No, sir, only the candlestick on the ground."

"But you heard an odd laugh? You have heard that laugh before, I should think, or something like it?"

"Yes, sir: there is a woman who sews here, called Grace Poole – she laughs in that way. She is a singular person."

"Just so. Grace Poole – you have guessed it. She is, as you say, singular – very.["]

Mr. Rochester tries to normalize the strange event in Jane's eyes so she won't leave Thornfield. Again, it is not clear that he wants to make Jane believe she is insane for the fun of it, but he is certainly messing with her mind to get the outcome he wants. By making Jane second-guess the evidence that he has his wife locked in the attic, he draws out the gothic anxiety of the novel. What natural phenomenon could explain the seemingly haunted house? As it turns out, there is no fantastical mystery. Mr. Rochester is simply an abusive husband with a secret wife who has lost her mind. Mr. Rochester remains convinced to the end that Bertha's mental health issues are hereditary and have nothing to do with him, but the novel leaves room for the reader to hold him responsible for messing with her head like he messes with Jane's. There is also room to critique the novel for presenting Jane as immune to the effects of Mr. Rochester's gaslighting in a way that Bertha is not.

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Chapter 12
Explanation and Analysis—Housing Insecurity:

Housing insecurity is a motif throughout the novel because Jane depends on others to keep a roof over her head. The first hint of housing insecurity occurs on the "drear November day" when Chapter 1 begins:

The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mamma in the drawing-room […]. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group [...] Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves in my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.

Everyone has come into the drawing room to get inside from the chilly winter day. The rain is "ceaseless" and "wild," and the wind blows in "lamentable blasts." The weather outside is so bad that, as the first line of the chapter notes, "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day." The idea of a walk is framed as a leisure activity that rich people might take on a quiet afternoon, but it is also clear that being left outside on a day like this could be life-threatening. Unlike Mrs. Reed's biological children, Jane does not automatically belong "clustered" around Mrs. Reed, sheltered from the storm by a mother who is bound to protect her. Jane relies on Mrs. Reed to keep her inside the protective windows with their "folds of scarlet drapery," but Jane's marginal status means that she will never truly be "separated" from the world outside that protection.

Jane is soon sent to Lowood, another temporary home. Eventually, she must find a way to support herself when she leaves Lowood. This means entering into "a new servitude" as a governess. At Thornfield, Jane's housing is again contingent, this time on her employment and Mr. Rochester's good graces toward her. But as opposed to feeling always on the verge of being turned out, Jane feels "stagnant" and stifled at Thornfield, as though she is stuck there. Mr. Rochester wants to keep her there even when she wants to leave, and so Jane comes to long for housing insecurity and the freedom it has previously given her to forge her own path. The narrator psychologizes her own former longing for housing insecurity in Chapter 12:

What good it would have done me at that time to have been tossed in the storms of an uncertain struggling life, and to have been taught by rough and bitter experience to long for the calm amidst which I now repined!

Jane fights to leave Thornfield and suffers the consequences. After refusing to be Mr. Rochester's mistress and after striking out on her own again, Jane nearly dies without a roof over her head. She recovers in the Rivers family cottage and finally comes to appreciate a certain kind of security. The security she wants is tinged with excitement and freedom. When she eventually marries Mr. Rochester on her own terms, she also rejects a man (St. John) who promises a more stable marriage. With Mr. Rochester in a household they build together from the ground up, Jane finds a mix of security and freedom.

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Chapter 15
Explanation and Analysis—Gaslighting:

The term "gaslighting" didn't originate until the 20th century, but it explains well a motif of mental manipulation Jane experiences throughout her life, and especially at Thornfield. For example, in Chapter 11, Mrs. Fairfax deflects Jane's questions about a mysterious "loud laugh" she has heard:

‘Mrs Fairfax!’ I called out – for I now heard her descending the great stairs. ‘Did you hear that loud laugh? Who is it?’

‘Some of the servants, very likely,’ she answered; ‘perhaps Grace Poole.’

‘Did you hear it?’ I again inquired.

Mrs. Fairfax knows that Jane is hearing Bertha, but she won't give her a straight answer. She lets Jane believe she didn't hear anything especially noteworthy, and Jane goes on to reflect that she is a "fool for entertaining a sense even of surprise." The term "gaslighting" originates from Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play Gas Light, which is also set during the Victorian era. In the play, a man manipulates his wife into believing that she is insane. He does this by, among other things, dimming the gas lights in the house and telling his wife that she is imagining it. Although she is not deliberately trying to hurt Jane, Mrs. Fairfax attempts to keep the secrets of Thornfield through a similar manipulation tactic: she makes Jane believe she is a "fool" for noticing the laugh.

Mr. Rochester is the worst perpetrator when it comes to gaslighting. In Chapter 15, he tries to get a pulse on what Jane has seen and heard to figure out what he can make her believe about the fire in his bedroom:

"I forget whether you said you saw anything when you opened your chamber-door."

"No, sir, only the candlestick on the ground."

"But you heard an odd laugh? You have heard that laugh before, I should think, or something like it?"

"Yes, sir: there is a woman who sews here, called Grace Poole – she laughs in that way. She is a singular person."

"Just so. Grace Poole – you have guessed it. She is, as you say, singular – very.["]

Mr. Rochester tries to normalize the strange event in Jane's eyes so she won't leave Thornfield. Again, it is not clear that he wants to make Jane believe she is insane for the fun of it, but he is certainly messing with her mind to get the outcome he wants. By making Jane second-guess the evidence that he has his wife locked in the attic, he draws out the gothic anxiety of the novel. What natural phenomenon could explain the seemingly haunted house? As it turns out, there is no fantastical mystery. Mr. Rochester is simply an abusive husband with a secret wife who has lost her mind. Mr. Rochester remains convinced to the end that Bertha's mental health issues are hereditary and have nothing to do with him, but the novel leaves room for the reader to hold him responsible for messing with her head like he messes with Jane's. There is also room to critique the novel for presenting Jane as immune to the effects of Mr. Rochester's gaslighting in a way that Bertha is not.

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Chapter 16
Explanation and Analysis—Disruptive Marriages:

Although the novel resolves with a marriage, marriages throughout the book are a motif that serves most often to disrupt Jane's life and future. One early example of this disruption occurs in Chapter 10, when Miss Temple leaves Lowood to be a wife:

[D]estiny, in the shape of the Rev. Mr Nasmyth, came between me and Miss Temple: I saw her in her travelling dress step into a post-chaise, shortly after the marriage ceremony. I watched the chaise mount the hill and disappear beyond its brow; and then retired to my own room, and there spent in solitude the greatest part of the half-holiday granted in honour of the occasion.

Some scholars have noted that we might read Jane Eyre as a queer character. Whether or not her attachment to Miss Temple has anything to do with her sexuality, Jane imagines herself in competition with Miss Temple's husband. This marriage disrupts one of the first nurturing relationships Jane has ever had and encourages her to leave Lowood.

At Thornfield, before Bertha is revealed in the attic, Jane also believes that Rochester is going to marry Blanche Ingram. This marriage, too, ignites Jane's jealousy. In Chapter 16, Jane draws twin portraits of herself and Blanche to carry around so that she can remind herself that she does not deserve Rochester's attention:

‘Whenever, in future, you should chance to fancy Mr Rochester thinks well of you, take out these two pictures and compare them: say, “Mr Rochester might probably win that noble lady’s love, if he chose to strive for it; is it likely he would waste a serious thought on this indigent and insignificant plebeian?”'

Once again, the prospect of others' marriage gets in the way of Jane's desires. In order to get over her feelings for Mr. Rochester, Jane must rationalize them away by dwelling on her own unworthiness because of her class status. It is her belief that Mr. Rochester is going to marry Miss Ingram that first leads her to declare that she is going to leave Thornfield. Others' marriages thus pile onto Jane's unhappiness and her feelings that she doesn't belong anywhere.

Of course, the central disruptive marriage is Mr. Rochester's marriage to Bertha. This ill-fated marriage gets in the way of both Jane's and Mr. Rochester's happiness and is the central obstacle in the plot. Jane has no control over all of the marriages that are thwarting her happiness until St. John Rivers proposes to her. Jane realizes that she does not want to be married to St. John, and that marrying him would get in the way of the future she wants with Mr. Rochester. Jane's refusal of St. John's marriage proposal represents a refusal, at last, to neglect her own desires. Even though Bertha must die in a fire before Mr. Rochester is free to marry Jane, Jane's "no" to St. John nonetheless represents the major turning point for Jane's character.

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Chapter 27
Explanation and Analysis—Ghosts and Apparitions:

Even though there is a natural explanation for everything that happens in the novel, ghosts and apparitions appear as a motif—manifestations of Jane's inner feelings and anxieties. For example, in Chapter 2, Jane is locked in the red room with what she imagines to be the ghost of Mr. Reed:

[P]repared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings: something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated: endurance broke down; I uttered a wild, involuntary cry; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort.

Jane knows, even as a child, that she is being superstitious. Still, she imagines that she sees Mr. Reed's ghost when she is locked up in the room where he died. In a way, she is haunted by his ghost and the ghosts of her parents. If she wants to hang onto the fantasy of adults loving and protecting her, she must allow these dead people to haunt her. If she doesn't want to be haunted, she must run away from her past.

As Jane gets older, she learns to tamp down her anxiety by reminding herself of the difference between reality and imagination. In Chapter 11, Jane convinces herself not to be "superstitiously afraid" of a mysterious laugh she hears echoing at Thornfield:

[T]he laugh was as tragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard; and, but that it was high noon, and that no circumstance of ghostliness accompanied the curious cachination; but that neither scene nor season favoured fear, I should have been superstitiously afraid.

Jane stops herself from imagining that Thornfield is haunted, willing herself to believe that Bertha's laughing is simply a servant making a noise. Although Jane's ability to calm her own nerves helps her get through the moment, it turns out that she would be wise to listen to her "superstition" in this case. It is not superstition at all, but rather her own ears and intuition telling her that there is something amiss at Thornfield.

As Jane grows into adulthood, her ghosts become less spooky, turning into something like religious visions. In Chapter 27, Jane's mother visits her in a dream and tells her

‘My daughter, flee temptation.’

Jane ultimately decides to heed this warning, and it saves her from being there when Bertha burns down the house. Whereas Jane learned as a young girl that ghostly apparitions were best ignored in favor of "reality," she is now beginning to learn that she should neither ignore nor fear them. Instead, she should follow them to see what they have to tell her. By Chapter 35, Jane's willingness to be "haunted" by ghostly apparitions allows her to hear Mr. Rochester calling her name from an impossible distance.

I saw nothing, but I heard a voice somewhere cry – ‘Jane! Jane! Jane!’ – nothing more.

The climax of the novel, this "apparition" leads Jane away from St. John and back to Mr. Rochester. Thornfield and Mr. Rochester have been cleansed of their gothic ghost, and Jane's "ghosts" have integrated into her as a sort of religious intuition that leads her on to the ending she wants.

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Chapter 35
Explanation and Analysis—Ghosts and Apparitions:

Even though there is a natural explanation for everything that happens in the novel, ghosts and apparitions appear as a motif—manifestations of Jane's inner feelings and anxieties. For example, in Chapter 2, Jane is locked in the red room with what she imagines to be the ghost of Mr. Reed:

[P]repared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings: something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated: endurance broke down; I uttered a wild, involuntary cry; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort.

Jane knows, even as a child, that she is being superstitious. Still, she imagines that she sees Mr. Reed's ghost when she is locked up in the room where he died. In a way, she is haunted by his ghost and the ghosts of her parents. If she wants to hang onto the fantasy of adults loving and protecting her, she must allow these dead people to haunt her. If she doesn't want to be haunted, she must run away from her past.

As Jane gets older, she learns to tamp down her anxiety by reminding herself of the difference between reality and imagination. In Chapter 11, Jane convinces herself not to be "superstitiously afraid" of a mysterious laugh she hears echoing at Thornfield:

[T]he laugh was as tragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard; and, but that it was high noon, and that no circumstance of ghostliness accompanied the curious cachination; but that neither scene nor season favoured fear, I should have been superstitiously afraid.

Jane stops herself from imagining that Thornfield is haunted, willing herself to believe that Bertha's laughing is simply a servant making a noise. Although Jane's ability to calm her own nerves helps her get through the moment, it turns out that she would be wise to listen to her "superstition" in this case. It is not superstition at all, but rather her own ears and intuition telling her that there is something amiss at Thornfield.

As Jane grows into adulthood, her ghosts become less spooky, turning into something like religious visions. In Chapter 27, Jane's mother visits her in a dream and tells her

‘My daughter, flee temptation.’

Jane ultimately decides to heed this warning, and it saves her from being there when Bertha burns down the house. Whereas Jane learned as a young girl that ghostly apparitions were best ignored in favor of "reality," she is now beginning to learn that she should neither ignore nor fear them. Instead, she should follow them to see what they have to tell her. By Chapter 35, Jane's willingness to be "haunted" by ghostly apparitions allows her to hear Mr. Rochester calling her name from an impossible distance.

I saw nothing, but I heard a voice somewhere cry – ‘Jane! Jane! Jane!’ – nothing more.

The climax of the novel, this "apparition" leads Jane away from St. John and back to Mr. Rochester. Thornfield and Mr. Rochester have been cleansed of their gothic ghost, and Jane's "ghosts" have integrated into her as a sort of religious intuition that leads her on to the ending she wants.

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