Jane Eyre

by

Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre: Tone 1 key example

Definition of Tone
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical or mournful, praising or critical, and so on. For instance... read full definition
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical or mournful, praising or critical... read full definition
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical... read full definition
Chapter 27
Explanation and Analysis—Faithful Terror:

The tone of the novel is often a mix of terror and steadfast faith that everything is going to be okay. For example, in Chapter 27, Jane must hold her own against an angry Mr. Rochester who does not want her to leave Thornfield:

[Mr. Rochester's] fury was wrought to the highest: he must yield to it for a moment, whatever followed; he crossed the floor and seized my arm and grasped my waist. He seemed to devour me with his flaming glance: physically, I felt, at the moment, powerless as stubble exposed to the draught and glow of a furnace: mentally, I still possessed my soul, and with it the certainty of ultimate safety.

The narrator recalls being afraid for her physical safety because of Rochester's uncontrolled anger. Much of the novel centers on Jane's relationship to fear. For instance, when Mrs. Reed has her locked in the Red Room as a child, she spends the night terrified of Mr. Reed's ghost. At Lowood, Jane must learn how to make a life for herself without succumbing to a reasonable fear of death or abuse. In this case, Jane has every reason to be afraid for her life. Mr. Rochester is a large man who has demonstrated his willingness to lock a woman up in the attic. By comparing his power over Jane to that of a furnace over dry kindling, the narrator produces a terrifying visual of how quickly this man could kill her.

But the tone of this passage and of the novel as a whole is not pure fear. Rather, it is confidence that fear cannot destroy a person's "ultimate safety" in their own soul. In one of the scariest moments of her life, Jane turns to the deep sense of spirituality and self-reliance she learned from Helen at Lowood. Jane's understanding that she remains in possession of her own soul allows her not to be driven out of her mind by the horror of the moment. Her calm confidence in her ability to handle fear reflects her older, narrating self's confidence in telling the story. This narrator trusts in her own ability to confront the dark and dangerous parts of her and her husband's past, such as abuse and colonialism, and come out clean.