Jane Eyre

by: Charlotte Brontë

Suggested Essay Topics

1. Discuss Jane as a narrator and as a character. What sort of voice does she have? How does she represent her own actions? Does she seem to be a trustworthy storyteller, or does Brontë require us to read between the lines of her narrative? In light of the fact that people who treat Jane cruelly (John Reed, Mrs. Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst) all seem to come to unhappy endings, what role does Jane play as the novel’s moral center?

2. In what ways might Jane Eyre be considered a feminist novel? What points does the novel make about the treatment and position of women in Victorian society? With particular attention to the book’s treatment of marriage, is there any way in which it might be considered anti-feminist?

3. What role does Jane’s ambiguous social position play in determining the conflict of her story? What larger points, if any, does the novel make about social class? Does the book criticize or reinforce existing Victorian social prejudices? Consider the treatment of Jane as a governess, but also of the other servants in the book, along with Jane’s attitude toward her impoverished students at Morton.

4. Compare and contrast some of the characters who serve as foils throughout Jane Eyre: Blanche to Jane, St. John to Rochester, and, perhaps, Bertha to Jane. Also think about the points of comparison between the Reed and Rivers families. How do these contrasts aid the development of the book’s themes?