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How is tone used as a literary device in Jane Eyre?

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ddespaigne | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:40 AM via web

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How is tone used as a literary device in Jane Eyre?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 1, 2012 at 3:44 AM (Answer #1)

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With tone as the writer's attitude toward the readers and toward the subject of the literary work, in Jane Eyre there is a sympathetic tone used in the descriptions of Jane's plights and her search for feminine independence.  It is certainly apparent that Bronte is an advocate for women's convictions and rights. For instance, when the long-suffering Helen accepts the castigations of Scatcherd meekly,

"My things were indeed in shameful disorder," murmured Helen to me, in a low voice....regarding it as a deserved punishment.

But, a week later, Jane tears the sign that Miss Scatcherd has put upon Helen, thrusting it into the fire with "fury."  The angry words of Jane seem to echo Bronte's attitudes, and when Jane is vindicated of some wrong, Bronte has the teacher's murmur their pleasure.

Indeed, there is much authorial voice that comes through the narrative, as well. When Mr. Rochester and Jane have their verbal challenges, for instance, little Jane is admired by Rochester for her pluck. Jane's words, "I deserved liberty; for liberty I gasped" are echoed throughout the narrative as she walks away from Mr. Rochester and she refuses the proposal of St. John Rivers. Clearly, too, the tone of approval for Jane's strivings to establish her independence is prevalent throughout the novel.

Closely connected to tone is diction, and Charlotte Bronte employs the Gothic with the angered interior dialogue of little Jane as in Chapter 3 when she tells the servant Bessie of the injustices of her aunt and cousins after she is released from the red room. Along with the Gothic diction, there is, of course, the romantic mixed in as in Chapter 25 when Rochester asks Jane to marry him,

“I would not—I could not marry Miss Ingram. You—you strange, you almost unearthly thing!—I love as my own flesh. You—poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are—I entreat to accept me as a husband.”

Some critics refer to Charlotte Bronte's tone as "transparent" because many of Jane Eyre's attitudes are those of the author; yet, there is also a subtle tone of Gothic and Romanticism that echoes through the narrative of Jane Eyre

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