Jane's characterization in terms of elfin or fairy-like qualities creates a dark, eerie undertone to her usually staid and proper exterior.
Morgan Taylor
2/12/2013 11:26:40 pm

Thoughout the novel repeatidly we notice things that seem eerie, uncanny, Gothic, or supernatural that are explained away by rational circumstances. But later those rational explanations will turn out to be far more sinister than anything resembling that of a world other than the actual world.

2/12/2013 11:31:23 pm

I agree that the supernatural and disturbing imagery utilyzed in Jane Eyre (i.e. when Jane is in the Red Room, in the death of Helen, and the burning of Mr Rochester's bed) are used to create a thick gothic atmosphere, and while social criticism of class and the condition of woman is present throughout the piece, the two literary elements don't exactly coincide. As in, I don't feel like Jane Eyre's Gothic thick scenes (or the ones that I've read thus far) really enhance her social criticism, instead scenes that utilyze said supernatural imagery are used to represent other themes, such as the red room scene representing guilt and alienation. Bronte's social criticisms are more present in her realist descriptions and dialogue with such characters as Mr Rochester and Mr Brocklehurst... IMO...myan...

2/12/2013 11:34:31 pm

Derp, that was meant for the post, "The Supernatural Statement #2"
Also; "but not actual supernatural elements"

What do "ACTUAL supernatural elements" entail? o.O

M. Woodard
2/12/2013 11:54:38 pm

Well this sort of only applies to Mr. Rochester as he is the only that really refers to Jane as an elf or fairy. Most people view Jane as the "plain, Quakerish" woman she claims or at the very worst a nuisance.
Fairy, to me, implies something that is fanciful or wild, not frightening or scary. It wouldn't make much sense for Mr. Rochester to enjoy the company of something "dark" or "eerie."

Melanie M
2/27/2013 05:47:00 am

This is an interesting idea. I think a reason to why Fairy could be considered dark and eerie is because they are not real and therefore an unknown.

Ashton T
3/1/2013 01:59:07 pm

I agree with Melanie. Jane is so strange but alluring to Mr. Rochester. She is unique to him. "Is this my pale, little elf? Is this my mustard-seed?This little sunny-faced girl with dimpled cheeks and rosy lips?" (page 270)

2/28/2013 06:29:14 am

"Jane's characterization in terms of elfin or fairy-like qualities creates a dark, eerie undertone to her usually staid and proper exterior."

It is interesting that only Mr Rochester refers to her as "elfin", while others see her as "plain, Quakerish". Why is that?

I'm reminded of our in-class discussion where we discussed her "plainess". I don't believe these qualities create a "dark" or "eerie" atmosphere, but rather these qualities, with her plain image, symbolize the juxtaposition of her humble Christian restraint in contrast to her emotional and independent-minded spirit

2/28/2013 09:25:13 am

It is interesting to me that Jane is thought "elfish" looking by Mr. Rochester and called a "strange child" (both in looks and mannerisms) by Bessie and the people from her chilhood. Throughout all the changes of character Jane goes through, and as she grows into a young woman, she keeps her fascination with the supernatural. She constantly thinks of the fantastic. Her looks mimic what she dwells on. It is similar to the way that Rev. Dimmsdale from The Scarlet Letter physically manifests the guilt inside him.

Alex Price
2/28/2013 11:49:39 pm

I mostly agree with this. I do see the fanciful, and wild with the the comparison with elfin or fairy like characteristics but for me it implies a sense of being dainty or fragile. I see Jane as more of a Alice in Wonderland who also had her proper exterior. As a child she was tossed into new environments and experienced the supernatural like the red room ghost. I think that like the broad plot of Alice and Wonderland it's kind of creepy and eerie thinking that there is another world full of things no one thinks exists. I don't know that's just my opinion.

Nathan M.
2/13/2013 12:38:16 am

As Jane arrives at Thornfield, after visiting the now late Mrs. Reed at Gateshead, Mr. Rochester describes her arrival in a supernatural quality: "She comes from the other world--from the abode of people who are dead; and tells me so when she meets me alone here in the gloaming! If I dared, I'd touch you, to see if you are substance or shadow, you elf! but I'd as soon offer to take hold of a blue ignis fatuus light in a marsh." Describing Jane as an elf, unknown to him as real or unreal, shows how her latest experience with death has left her a shadow of her former self. She was grief stricken when Helen died, but she is quite indifferent after her Aunt's passing. This indifference towards her benefactress's death creates the dark, eerie undertone that Mr. Rochester sees.

Jasmine T
2/14/2013 10:16:29 am

Mr. Rochester is the only one who describes her as elf-like. "If I dared, I’d touch you, to see if you are substance or shadow, you elf! – but I’d as soon offer to take hold of a blue ignis fatuus light in a marsh." (pg. 281)

Lydia F.
2/19/2013 05:39:32 am

I agree with Michael, elves/fairies do not imply eeriness or darkness. Mr. Rochester is wanting to fix his life, and become a better person, with doing that he would not want to marry someone that suggests darkness, unless Charlotte Bronte is wanting to be rather ironical.

Emily R.
2/19/2013 06:38:23 am

I disagree, I think Jane is described like this to make her seem mysterious and mischievous. Such as when Rochester is telling Adèle the story with the fairy and Rochester says "Mademoiselle is a fairy, he said, whispering mysteriously"

Emily R
2/19/2013 06:49:42 am

On page 308

Lucia E.
2/23/2013 02:37:47 am

I disagree on the statement that qualities creates a dark, eerie undertone of Jane, I think rather that Mr. Rochester makes this comment about Jane being an elf, to set the tone of how he feels the strong attraction to her and that this attraction is foreboding that he believes that he is bewitched, when in reality he is just in love (p 281).

Gold C.
2/25/2013 07:50:39 am

I believe that Mr. Rochester compares her to a fairy because his love for her his magical. When Jane goes back to Mr. Rochester, she asks him if he can see her and he replies "No, my fairy: but I am only too thankful to hear and feel you." (pg 507) Although he could not see her, the moment itself was magical because he can hear and feel her. And the fact that he still calls her a fairy despite her being gone for so long creates an immortal love.

Hunter H.
2/25/2013 07:57:05 am

Im not sure if saying Jane has elfish qualities really makes the story more eerie. I believe it is used to show the reader the there is more to Jane than meets the eye and that is why Mr. Rochester fell in love with her.

Anna H
2/27/2013 12:49:33 am

When Jane is scared or nervous, she tends to think of supernatural creatures such as Mr. Reeds ghost in the red room and the story Bessie told her of a North-of-England spirit called Gytrash when she hears a noise on the hill before meeting Rochester for the first time.

Rachel W.
2/27/2013 02:31:17 am

Agree. Rochester refers to Jane as "my fairy" (538) because of the circumstances in which they met and because she is unlike any other woman he has encountered.

Abigail H.
2/27/2013 02:33:37 am

Mr. Rochester even describes her paintings (which her emotions and thoughts are put into) as elfish. "As to the thoughts, they are elfish." (speaking of Janes's paintings) pg. 142. She's not only separated from society in the way she looks but the way she thinks, her thoughts are not the same as other women from her time-- that is what I think makes Jane seem elfish to Rochester.

Tori Burris
2/28/2013 09:34:22 am

I think that the references to Jane as a fairy, imp etc-while lending supernatural elements- may also just be another representation of how Rochester manages to see all of Jane, even the things she may not see herself. The contrast and imagery used to describe Jane is actually almost better suited to Bertha, who truly is exotic and utterly unexplainable. The generally positive connotation with the gothic imagery used by Rochester could be equally as negative; for instance many in the UK and Ireland did- and some still do- believe in fairies, however they believe that they are impish, terrifying creatures that purposefully make mischief and that one would be incredibly stupid to attempt to even encounter a fairy. Therefore I am unsure as to whether the commentary on this aspect of her nature is positive, negative or simply unfounded in her actions.

Morgan S
2/28/2013 11:44:33 pm

I disagreed simply on connotation alone. The words “elfin” and “fairy-like” do not create and eerie undertone for me. It’s actually the opposite. It makes me think of mystical wonder and happy things and this description of Jane from the eyes of other people is such a stark contrast of her own description of herself as a “plain, quakerish woman.” It brings up the question of whether or not Jane is a reliable narrator.

Crissy T.
3/1/2013 08:08:37 am

The description of her being elfish and fairy-like does create a somewhat dark undertone, but I think it goes along with Jane's appearence. She is described as very small and delicate, like a fairy, but her wit and bluntness throughout the novel gives her a mischievious quality.

Tatiana C.
3/1/2013 08:43:45 am

I think jane being described as a fairy does not make her appear dark at all. If anything that description was to make Jane seem mysterious or distinguish her from other Victorian women. Which she was in the sense that she was adventurous, not wealthy, and unattractive. Rochester says, No, my fairy: but I am only too thankful to hear and feel you." (pg 507), because he does not understand his attraction to Jane, just as people do not understand magic 9elves and fairies).

Brian H.
3/1/2013 01:55:06 pm

Our discussion today in 2nd hour about the old/British representation of a "fairy" shed some new light on this statement. Instead of the stereotypical Disney fairy of today, they were portrayed as dark, scary, and malicious. This also makes me wonder more about Mr. Rochester's references to Jane as a fairy of elf. If fairies were frightening and evil, what could he mean by calling Jane one?


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    Online Discussion

    Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil's advocate.  Respond to the statements, with textual support, that either agrees/disagrees, proves/disproves, or responds to a classmate's post.  Sentences and ideas gathered from www.shmoop.com.


    February 2013