In the novel Jane Eyre, the central consciousness is the narrator and heroine Jane Eyre herself, who tells the story of the first thirty years of her life. The autobiographical form that Charlotte Brontë has used, suggesting that it will present a subjective point of view, sets the novel in the Romantic tradition of writing, as it is the essence of Romantic philosophies that man only regards, and singles out for special comment, those aspects of life which are of importance to himself, making use of nature as a visible manifestation of the inward state. Coleridge, who is the most lucid commentator on that mode, states that the Romantic writer strives ‘to make the external internal, to make nature thought and thought nature’. This is what Charlotte Brontë has done in Jane Eyre: she not only gives the reader a picture of the evolution of Jane from childhood to adulthood, in the external events of education, independence, falling in love, and marriage, but she also depicts the internal changes that take place in Jane’s personality at these significant periods of her life. To present the prosaic events of a governess’s life, simultaneously with an account of her inward state, at any given point of time, requires a high standard of competency in writing, and in the systematic use of the chosen imagery, if the novel is to show a balance between event and attitude.


Mirror Reflection Objective Picture Objective Correlative True Love Romantic Writer 
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Notes and References

  1. Langford, T., ‘The Three Pictures in Jane Eyre’, Victorian Newsletter, 30 (1966), pp. 47–8. Mr Langford interprets the pictures as an allegory of the three most crucial situations in the novel. Mr R.B. Martin, in The Accents of Persuasion and Miss J. Millgate, in an article entitled ‘Narrative Distance in Jane Eyre’, Modern Language Review, LXIII (1968), also comment on the art passages as being evidence of Charlotte Brontë’s interest in art, but none of the critics sees the dramatic possibilities of paintings to illustrate the past.Google Scholar
  2. Benvenuto, R., ‘The Child of Nature, The Child of Grace’, Journal of English Literary History, vol 39 (1972), p. 622. Mr Benvenuto’s thesis is that ‘Charlotte Brontë approaches the opposition between nature and grace as a partisan of both … By drawing the line fairly between them, she sets up the conflict in a way that cannot be resolved. The result is a tension and a discord that I do not think Charlotte Brontë intended’.Google Scholar
  3. Lock, J. and Dixon, W.T., A Man of Sorrow: The Life and Times of the Rev. Patrick Brontë (London, Nelson, 1968), pp. 110–12. An interesting biography, which gives some details that neither Mrs Gaskell nor Mrs Gérin mention.Google Scholar
  4. Romieu, Emilie and Georges, The Brontë Sisters (London, Skeffington, 1931), p. 172.Google Scholar
  5. Vol III of The Works of John Ruskin, edited by E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (London, George Allen, 1903). Modern Painters, vol I, p. 234.Google Scholar
  6. Millgate, Miss J., ‘Narrative Distance in Jane Eyre: The Relevance of the Pictures’, Modern Language Review, LXIII, No. 2 (April, 1968), p. 319.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Cynthia A. Linder 1978

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  • Cynthia A. Linder

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