Literature in Time

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Jane Eyre - Society and Class

  • Those characters who are most interested in wealth and status are hypocritical or morally misguided
  • Jane Eyre implies that poverty can be thoroughly respectful if you have a desire to better yourself
  • Jane's manner, sophistication and education are that of an aristocrat yet she remains powerless and penniless
  • With regards to Rochester, Jane is of his intellect but not his social
  • She speaks out about Class Prejudice
  • However ultimately Jane is only able to marry Rochester because she came into money from her uncle and therefore got the education
  • Class in Jane Eyre has no absolute boundaries
  • Depsite her change in class and involvement with all different classes in Victorian England she still remains the same character throughout.
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Jane Eyre - Gender

  • Jane must also fight against patriarchal domination and against those who think women are inferior to men
  • Brocklehurst, Rochester and Rivers all try to keep Jane in her place and in a position where she cannot express her own thoughts and feelings
  • She cannot depend solely on Rochester for love and be independant financially
  • At the novel's end Rochester is blind and must rely on Jane to be his 'prop and guide'.
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Jane Eyre Quotes

"If God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you".

(Jane on class prejudice)

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Jane Eyre Quotes

"My sould began to expand, to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt".

  • From Jane's outburst at her Aunt just before she leaves Gateshead
  • The passage marks Jane's emotional liberation
  • She asserts her authority for the first time
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Jane Eyre - Religion

  • She encounters 3 main religious figures; Mr Brocklehurst, Helen Burns and St John Rivers. They represent a different model of religion that Jane rejects
  • Brocklehurt represents the evangelical movement in the 19th century which Charlotte Bronte deemed hypocritical and dangerous. Brocklehurt subjects his students to privations and humiliations in the novel eg. Cutting the curly haired girls hair so it lies straight. He is very hypocritical in his views and with his wealth. This appears to be very unchristian
  • Helen Burn's meek view of Christianity is too passive for Jane to adopt but she loves and admires Helen for it.
  • St John Rivers' is christianity of glory, ambition and self importance.
  • However Jane does not abandon belief in a christian God or spirituality. She puts her survival in the hands of God and prays when her marriage is interrupted.
  • She ultimately finds a comfortable middle ground
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Thomas Gray - Elegy Written in a Country Churchyar

  • Elegy asks us to honour the lives of common, everyday people
  • Often interpreted as a turning point into the Romantics
  • Probably inspired by his sadness of his friend Richard West's death
  • It's also about how people are remembered after death
  • He muses about what happens after people die and admits fear of his own death
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Thomas Gray - Night and Darkness Imagery

  • Poem takes place around sunset in a cemetary 
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Thomas Gray - Quotes

The Church bell 'knells the toll' of the day.

  • Night and dark imagery and death
  • When a person dies you ring the church bell to commemorate their death and this is a death 'knell'. 
  • The poet is saying that the bell is ringing at the death of a sunset like it is a person.
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Thomas Gray - Quotes

'Solemn stillness'

  • Alliteration at the sunset scene
  • Repeated sibilence is a sort of shushing maybe to emphasise the calm and still atmosphere
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Thomas Gray - Quotes

'Sleeping in the shade of the tree'

  • Metaphor that the dead villagers are just 'sleeping'
  • Euphemism
  • Could be that he's afraid of death and his own death so prefers to think of them sleeping rather than rotting in the ground
  • This is also quite childlike 
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Jane Eyre - Quotes

"if she were to turn you off, you would have to go to the poor-house."

(Society and Class Quote)

  • Jane's early life is a constant reminder that she is poor
  • Even her aunt and cousins consider her lower class 
  • Thinking herself as lower than others, even in the same house is something she learns very early on
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Jane Eyre - Quotes

"poverty for me was synonymous with degradation"

(Society and Class Quote)

  • The Reeds have taught Jane that poverty is always accompanied by immortality and unpleasantness
  • Wealthy people can be just as easily degraded as poor ones 
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Jane Eyre Quotes

"Any one may serve: I have served here eight years; now all I want is to serve elsewhere." 

  • She's being realistic
  • Wants a change of scenery
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Jane Eyre - Gender. A Feminist Novel?

  • Women can live one equal terms and independently of men
  • Jane achieves true parity with Rochester at the end of the novel 
  • She breaks away from the stereotypical ideal of a victorian woman 
  • Jane is motivated purely by her own desire to be with Rochester, not anyone else 
  • We must keep in mind the historical context
  • Is it now 'equal footing' because Rochester has been reduced metaphorically and physically after he has been blinded by the fire
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Jane Eyre - The Supernatural

  • Some things in the novel seem eerie, uncanny and gothic 
  • "I thought it like one of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp" - Jane sees herself in the mirror as a child and sees herself as something uncanny. Even Jane perceives herself as unnatural.
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