Jane Eyre

by

Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre: Style 1 key example

Chapter 27
Explanation and Analysis—Meta-Reflective:

The novel's overall style is meta-reflective: the narrator is an older version of the protagonist who not only recounts her coming-of-age story, but also analyzes it for the reader.  One example of the narrator's trademark self-reflective asides to the reader occurs in Chapter 27, when Mr. Rochester expresses regret for having hurt Jane by concealing his marriage to Bertha:

Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot. There was such deep remorse in his eye, such true pity in his tone, such manly energy in his manner: and besides, there was such unchanged love in his whole look and mien – I forgave him all: yet not in words, not outwardly; only at my heart’s core.

The narrator often reports on the events of her life in a way that obviously centers her memory of her own behaviors and the secret feelings behind them. In this case, for example, the narrator describes Mr. Rochester's demeanor not to provide an objective portrait to the reader, but rather to explain to the reader why she secretly forgave him at her "heart's core." These asides are often deeply personal and are addressed directly to "Reader," as though the novel's reader is sitting at a table with the older Jane and listening to her story. This stylistic choice gives the novel the air of a confession. Much as a devout Catholic might visit a priest to confess their sins, the narrator confesses to the reader the long line of complicated choices she made in her childhood and young adulthood. Like a confession, the novel is meant to help the narrator come to terms with her own secrets by sharing them with a confidant.

Paradoxically, the reflective, confessional style also draws attention to the narrator as an artist who might well be taking some artistic license with the truth. The notion of artistic license is not necessarily at odds with the narrator's earnest attempt to grapple with and share her own history and memory. For instance, when Jane has set out from Thornfield at the start of Chapter 28, the narrator adopts a style that almost reads like stage directions:

From the well-known names of these towns I learn in what county I have lighted; a north-midland shire, dusk with moorland, ridged with mountain: this I see. There are great moors behind and on each hand of me; there are waves of mountains far beyond that deep valley at my feet.

The shift to the present tense as the narrator describes Jane's new surroundings is conspicuous. This style doesn't fit in the novel, but would be more at home in a play. By drawing attention to genre in this way, the narrator draws attention to the text as a work of art and not an objective report of the truth. But playing with the stylistic limits of genre in this way also allows the narrator to get at a more subjective kind of truth. The "great moors" and "waves of mountains" come as vividly into the reader's imagination as into the narrator's memory, as though the reader, too, has seen them through Jane's eyes. The narrator thus uses artistry to bring the reader deep into her own perspective.

Chapter 28
Explanation and Analysis—Meta-Reflective:

The novel's overall style is meta-reflective: the narrator is an older version of the protagonist who not only recounts her coming-of-age story, but also analyzes it for the reader.  One example of the narrator's trademark self-reflective asides to the reader occurs in Chapter 27, when Mr. Rochester expresses regret for having hurt Jane by concealing his marriage to Bertha:

Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot. There was such deep remorse in his eye, such true pity in his tone, such manly energy in his manner: and besides, there was such unchanged love in his whole look and mien – I forgave him all: yet not in words, not outwardly; only at my heart’s core.

The narrator often reports on the events of her life in a way that obviously centers her memory of her own behaviors and the secret feelings behind them. In this case, for example, the narrator describes Mr. Rochester's demeanor not to provide an objective portrait to the reader, but rather to explain to the reader why she secretly forgave him at her "heart's core." These asides are often deeply personal and are addressed directly to "Reader," as though the novel's reader is sitting at a table with the older Jane and listening to her story. This stylistic choice gives the novel the air of a confession. Much as a devout Catholic might visit a priest to confess their sins, the narrator confesses to the reader the long line of complicated choices she made in her childhood and young adulthood. Like a confession, the novel is meant to help the narrator come to terms with her own secrets by sharing them with a confidant.

Paradoxically, the reflective, confessional style also draws attention to the narrator as an artist who might well be taking some artistic license with the truth. The notion of artistic license is not necessarily at odds with the narrator's earnest attempt to grapple with and share her own history and memory. For instance, when Jane has set out from Thornfield at the start of Chapter 28, the narrator adopts a style that almost reads like stage directions:

From the well-known names of these towns I learn in what county I have lighted; a north-midland shire, dusk with moorland, ridged with mountain: this I see. There are great moors behind and on each hand of me; there are waves of mountains far beyond that deep valley at my feet.

The shift to the present tense as the narrator describes Jane's new surroundings is conspicuous. This style doesn't fit in the novel, but would be more at home in a play. By drawing attention to genre in this way, the narrator draws attention to the text as a work of art and not an objective report of the truth. But playing with the stylistic limits of genre in this way also allows the narrator to get at a more subjective kind of truth. The "great moors" and "waves of mountains" come as vividly into the reader's imagination as into the narrator's memory, as though the reader, too, has seen them through Jane's eyes. The narrator thus uses artistry to bring the reader deep into her own perspective.

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