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11. The child Jane Eyre uses the romantic illustrations in History of British Birds as a trigger for escapist fantasies. The drawings she does at Lowood serve a similar function, as Rochester notices when he comments on their "elf-like," dreamy character (Chapter 13). Later, Jane paints one portrait emphasizing her own plainness and another of beautiful Blanche Ingram as an exercise in self-discipline. When she revisits the Reeds at Gateshead (Chapter 21), her sketching is a constructive way to fill the idle hours that weigh so heavily on Georgiana and Eliza. At Moor House, she uses her portrait of Rosamond Oliver to draw out St. John about his feelings, and it is from her signature on a portrait that he learns Jane's identity.
Here are some points to think about: Why are Jane's most carefully done portraits of Blanche and Rosamond, women she doesn't especially admire? What is her attitude toward physical beauty? What's the meaning of the sketch of Rochester that she makes in Chapter 21? What does it mean that (in Chapter 38) she becomes the "eyes" of her blind husband?
12. The structure of the novel follows, chronologically, the personal development of its central character, Jane Eyre. Beyond this, there is no single "right" answer. You might base your discussion on the "five-act play" structure of Robert Bernard Martin, showing how each new locale (Gateshead House, Lowood, Thornfield, Moor House, and Ferndean) corresponds to a stage in Jane's inner quest. In this case, pay particular attention to the journeys that link the sections. Or you could make a different breakdown. For instance, try dividing the story into three parts: Jane's childhood, her stay at Thornfield, and her growth to maturity at Moor House and after.
13. One starting point for a discussion could be Jane's reasons for deciding to leave Thornfield in Chapter 27. Notice that she says then: "I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man." Isn't her goal always to make a respectable marriage? Or you might want to consider why Jane returns to Thornfield when she does. How can she forgive Rochester for lying to her and yet accuse St. John of trying to "kill" her by the kind of marriage he offers?
14. "Nature must be gladsome when I was so happy," Jane thinks when she wakes to a "brilliant June day" on the morning after Rochester's proposal. Be as specific as you can be about the language used to describe weather and its relationship to the mood of various scenes. For example: the crimson sunset and icy cold of her first meeting with Rochester, the "sky of steel" (Chapter 15) under which Rochester tells the story of Celine; the lovely spring morning (Chapter 20) when Rochester offers Jane a "half-blown rose" and tells her he thinks he has found a "cure" for his dissipation; the lightning storm on the night he proposes.
Some other questions to think about: Why is the weather particularly beautiful in Chapter 5 when Helen Burns
lies dying? What's the significance of the weather during the night Jane sleeps outdoors on the moors (Chapter
15. You may choose to argue that Bronte presents a very vivid and realistic portrait of the situation of a governess, precisely because it is so personal. Don't forget Jane's prejudices about the "French defects" of her pupil Adele and her "coarse" students at Morton school. Remember also the views of governesses expressed by others-the complaints of the Ingrams and Rochester's deprecating comments on governesses who play the piano "a little," but not well.
On the other hand, you might want to talk about Jane's ideas about wealth. Jane considers herself rich when she has five thousand pounds. Rochester is rich, too, and so is Rosamond Oliver. How much information does the novel give us about the different ways of life associated with varying amounts and kinds of wealth? Does Jane understand the problems of the rich, or does she simply equate money with freedom?