Study Help Essay Questions


1. Explain the importance of paranormal experiences in the novel. What do the characters learn from dreams and visions? How do these experiences modify your understanding of the characters? How do the supernatural elements interact with the novel's realism?

2. Discuss the representations of the various women in the novel: Mrs. Reed, Miss Temple, Céline Varens, Blanche Ingram, Bertha Mason, and Diana and Mary Rivers. What does Jane learn about proper feminine behavior from these women? Which are positive role models? Negative?

3. Explore Jane's ideas of religion. What does she learn about Christianity from Helen Burns, Mr. Brocklehurst, and St. John Rivers? How do their views of Christianity contrast with hers? What problems does she see in their values?

4. Discuss two scenes that show the ambiguity of Jane's social class. What are Jane's opinions of the upper classes and the lower classes? What does the novel say about the social class system in England? Does Brontë critique the system or support it?

5. The narrator in the novel is an older Jane remembering her childhood. Find a few places where the voice of the older Jane intrudes on the narrative. What is the effect of this older voice's intrusions on the story? Does it increase or decrease your sympathy for the young Jane?

6. Jane gives descriptions of several of her paintings and drawings. Why are these artistic renditions important? What do they reveal about Jane's imagination? About her inner self?

7. Discuss the contrast between images of ice and fire in the novel. What moral attributes are associated with fire and with ice? How is this image pattern used to reveal personality? For example, which characters are associate with fire and which with ice? Does Jane achieve balance between fire and ice?

8. Analyze the importance of the five major places Jane lives on her journey: Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Moor House/Marsh End, and Ferndean. What do their names signify? What lessons does Jane learn at each place? Jane provides detailed descriptions of the natural world around each place: What do these descriptions reveal about their character?

9. Compare and contrast Rochester and St. John Rivers. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Why does Jane choose Rochester over St. John?

10. Discuss the representation of foreigners in the novel — Bertha and Richard Mason, Céline and Adèle Varens. How are the colonies represented? What is the source of Rochester's wealth? Of Jane's inheritance?