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Main Ideas

Themes

Main Ideas Themes

Anxiety and Uncertainty

Brontë draws on frightening Gothic imagery to highlight anxiety and uncertainty surrounding Jane’s place in the world, especially by describing the supernatural. The reader’s first encounter with the Gothic and supernatural is the terrifying red-room. Uncle Reed may not literally haunt the room, but his connection to the room haunts Jane as a reminder of the unfulfilled promise that she would have a home at Gateshead and the reality that Uncle Reed cannot ensure that she will be loved. Later, the storm that splits the chestnut tree where Rochester and Jane kiss creates a portentous atmosphere, as if nature itself objects to their marriage. This occurrence serves to warn Jane that despite appearances, her happiness with Rochester is not truly secure. Further, many scholars have identified Bertha as a Gothic double of Jane, or a physical manifestation of the violent passions and anger that Jane possessed in her younger years. This connection between Bertha and Jane highlights anxieties around Jane becoming Rochester’s bride. Even without knowledge of Bertha, Jane worries Rochester will tire of her, and their marriage would upend rigid Victorian social class structure by having a governess marry her master. In this way, Bertha’s looming presence expresses Jane’s fear about their impending marriage and the ambiguity of Jane’s social position.