Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jane Eyre: Passage Explication Volume I

"I lingered in the long passageway to which this led, separating the front and back rooms of the third story: narrow, low, and dim, with only one little window at the far end, and looking, with its two rows of small black doors all shut, like a corridor in some Bluebeard's castle...the laugh was as tragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard; and, but that it was a high room, and that no circumstance of ghostliness accompanied the curious cachinnation, but that neither scene nor season favoured fear, I should have been superstitiously afraid." Chapter 11. P. 114

Bronte incorporates the “Gothic” theme in most of Volume I of Jane Eyre. Most of Jane’s experiences involved dark rooms and dim environments, which demonstrate the tension that takes over her life and the amount of secrets that are unrevealed.

When Jane is given the tour around Thornfield Hall, she hears a strange and disturbing laugh coming from the attic. As she questions this, the only response she obtained was that it was only Grace Poole, sewing with Leah. But Jane’s above description of the house, completely lets the reader know that there is more to the story than the simple answer she was given. The gothic theme reappears when Jane describes the third floor of the house as “narrow, low, and dim, with only one little window at the far end…” demonstrating the evidence that there must be something or someone hidden in the house.

This takes us to the reference of the “Bluebeard’s castle”. The Bluebeard’s castle is known to be a Gothic French fairy tale where a Duke who “murders” all his wives and locking their bodies in different rooms of the castle, forbidding the new wife to open these doors. When the new wife disobeys and finds the bodies, she is then murdered. This reference provides an interesting foreshadow of what is behind the attic door. Bronte, while using a tale base on a pre-gothic plot, creates another gothic tale where perhaps the same tragedy is about to take place. Both tales have several factors in common, the dim-gothic looking castle, the master (Duke) of the house, a hidden secret behind doors, and a new victim.

To add more to this passage and the story behind it, another event occurs creating intrigue in Jane to know more about this mysterious person living in the attic. Towards the end of Volume I, while Mr. Rochester is asleep one night, Jane finds him in his bed and his covers are lighted up on fire. She quickly moves and saves Mr. Rochester. Both came to the conclusion that the responsible for this was “Grace Poole” but this is not a satisfactory response. Who really is Grace Poole? Why would Poole do this to the master? Putting this incident together with the plot of Bluebeard’s castle, and his unfaithful wife, create this idea that perhaps the person or secret hidden in the attic could be his ex- wife. Several questions are being asked and the gothic theme continues to appear in the story.

Bronte successfully creates curiosity in the audience by introducing this new mysterious character who would probably reveal the secret hidden in this castle. As for Jane, what the Bluebeard’s story foreshadowed seems to be an ugly and sad ending for her.

No comments: