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What are the stylistic peculiarities of Charlotte Bronte's individual style?

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vijaykumar16 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 23, 2011 at 10:11 PM via web

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What are the stylistic peculiarities of Charlotte Bronte's individual style?

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neneta | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:04 AM (Answer #1)

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In order to answer to this question I focused on “Jane Eyre”:

To begin with we have to consider the genre of the novel,bildungsroman, which is a German word to indicate an account of the youthful development of a hero or heroine.

Then, in order to define the style of a literary work one has to refer to diction, sentence structure and imagery. In this case, the language used by Charlotte Bronte is worked up and refined. We see that compound-complex sentences are preferred to simple and short sentences. They are linked with colons or coordinated conjunctions, showing balance, like in the following example:

"I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed" .

Charlotte Bronte’s prose is rich in Symbolism and Imagery. In Jane Eyre, she has used many elements from nature to suggest the characters’ state of mind. Here we can talk about "Pathetic Fallacy", in which the inanimate is personified to emphasize the feelings of the characters, as we see in:

"There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.  We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning;
but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question."

Here, the adjectives "sombre" and "penetrating" are human attributes. However, they reflect the feeling of isolation and loneliness the child Jane experiments. Other relevant symbols throughout the novel are the moon, the landscape, and the element fire. Thus, we can speak about the so-called “word painting” technique, in which the detailed description of elements of nature relates to pivotal moments in the plot.

In order to analyse CB’s style is equally important to consider the idea of Narrative Situation, which refers to two essential questions we normally ask when reading novels: who tells the story and who sees what's happening in the story? The answer to the first question is obviously Jane, who is also the narrator-in this case we have a first- person narrative. Furthermore, we have to consider that the narrator voice, Jane, has a distinctive personality and explicitly emits her opinions and judgements. In order to refer to the second question we may think about perspective or focalization-in this case, we tend to perceive things from Jane's perspective, and then we can say that the narrator is limited- the focus of perception is of a character in the story. 
 
Lastly, because "Jane Eyre"  contains an element of the supernatural-e.g., desolate landscapes, dark corridors, Byronic hero- we may also relate the novel to the Gothic tradition.

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