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Hidden Conlicts in Jane Eyre
essay [ ]

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by [seniors2004 ]

2003-12-05  |     | 

Jane Eyre, a novel written by Charlotte Bronte, has become one of the most famous literary works of our time. The reason for the novel’s vast popularity and literary achievement is due to the numerable themes it portrays. Jane Eyre is one of the few novels that has been able to encompass broad themes that have universal appeal. Although the novel has an overall serious undertone due to Jane’s constant struggles to achieve her ideals, it is also characterized by moments that show a humorous tone. Nonetheless, these episodes, although comical at first, have a serious purpose behind it. Often in literature, many scenes are given a humorous tone to mask the true gravity of the situation. This is done to relieve tensions in the atmosphere caused by the severity of the moments. In Jane Eyre, one the scenes that has a comical effect is when Mr. Rochester disguises himself as a gypsy in order to find out Jane’s true emotions towards him. Although this scene is humorous at first, it has a serious purpose behind it.
After Jane completes her studies in Lowood, and also serves as a teacher for a few years, she begins to want a new life. Jane looks for employment in the newspaper in order to leave Lowood and become self sufficient. Jane becomes the new employee of Thornfield Hall, in which she will become a teacher of a little girl named Adele. During her time at Thornfield, she begins to feel an attraction towards the owner of the house, Mr. Rochester. He is an extremely mysterious and abrupt man, since his temper changes from one moment to another. Nonetheless, Jane becomes drawn to him, although she stubbornly wishes she did not have these feelings. During a visit of Mr. Rochester’s friends, Jane is introduced to Blanche Ingram, a woman thought to be romantically involved with Mr. Rochester. Upon her arrival, Jane develops mixed emotions. She envies Blanche’s beauty, poise, and most of all, her relationship with Mr. Rochester. During Blanche’s visit, the guests of the house are told that an old gypsy woman has arrived demanding to tell the ladies’ fortune. Startled by this unusual visit, Blanche is the first to visit the gypsy. Little do the women know that the gypsy woman is indeed, Mr. Rochester. The old gypsy woman, disguised with a red cloak, was eager to see one specific lady, Jane. Jane is asked various questions related towards her feelings and emotions towards the people in the house and her life at Thornfield. She immediately becomes skeptical of the situation, since the gypsy is only focusing on Mr. Rochester and Thronfield instead of telling her fortune. It was when Jane noticed the gypsy’s hand that she knew it was Mr. Rochester.
This scene has a definite humorous tone since we get to see how far a character is willing to go in order to obtain information. Since Mr. Rochester’s introduction to the novel, he is portrayed as a particularly somber man. We get to see Mr. Rochester’s vulnerability and true personality, when we learn that he is willing to disguise himself as an old lady. Even though the scene is handled in a manner to create a comical effect, both Mr. Rochester’s and Jane’s purpose is serious, since they are both struggling with mixed emotions. Jane becomes deeply infuriated by the realization that the gypsy is in fact, Mr. Rochester. She is startled because she cannot believe Mr. Rochester is trying to find out her true emotions towards him, something she is extremely sensitive with.
By covering a serious situation with a humorous scene, the characters can be studied in a different manner. If Mr. Rochester had not disguised himself as a gypsy, the reader would not have known the extremes the character was willing to go in order to achieve a purpose. Consequently, Jane would have behaved differently if Mr. Rochester had not disguised himself as a gypsy. If Mr. Rochester would have simply asked her those questions himself, she probably would have not expressed her true feelings. This is why it is extremely important to study the situations a character is placed in because depending on the circumstances, characters will behave differently and affect the development of the novel.

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