Jane Eyre

by: Charlotte Brontë

Tone

Main ideas Tone

The tone of Jane Eyre shifts between a confessional, philosophical tone and a brooding, mysterious tone that permeates the events of the story. Jane often addresses the reader directly. She speculates as to why others behave the way they do, often pausing to philosophize, and explains herself and her actions. These asides suggest Jane may be self-conscious that her audience could judge her. The reader can also interpret these direct addresses from a feminist perspective. Although Brontë published Jane Eyre under a male pseudonym, her insistence on giving Jane an opinionated voice – in contrast to the Victorian ideal of the docile woman – demonstrates the intelligence and value of women’s voices. The more Gothic, brooding elements (like supernatural events) appear in moments of heightened emotion, such as during Jane’s punishment in the red-room, her first encounter with Rochester, and Bertha’s nighttime wanderings. These frightening and dramatic moments add excitement and emphasize Jane’s internal turmoil. Throughout the novel, Jane cannot be assured of her place in the world because of her lack of wealth and family connections, and the unsettling tone of these sections externalizes Jane’s insecurity.