During the red room incident, how does Charlotte Brontë play with colour and shadows within this passage?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As part of the gothic genre, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is a narrative of darkness, shadows and eerie light.  With imagery, Chapter 2 of this novel highlights the contrast between Jane's passionate nature and her terrible isolation, themes of the novel. Locked into the room in which Mr. Reed died, Jane perceives the red carpet, dark mahogany furniture, dark red damask curtains and crimson bedcovers against the ghostly, glaring whiteness of the pillows of the "pale throne" of Mr. Reed's deathbed. 

The room is chill as no fire is ever built in it and it is only used as a vault for Mrs. Reed's jewelry and valuables, that she periodically checks.  Alone in the dark, Jane contemplates her sad state of always being made to suffer:

What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon!  How all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in insurrection!  Yet in what darkness, what dense ignorance, was the mental battle fought!  I could not answer the ceaseless inward question--why I thus suffered....  

Like the room, Jane is in "discord" in Gateshead Hall; she feels that there is no harmony with Mrs. Reed and her children.  As she contemplates these thoughts in the crimson darkness of her passions and the room, Jane sits looking at the shroud of "the white bed and overshadowed walls."  She, then, worries that her sobs might awaken the spirit of Mr. Reed, who could appear with "a strange pity" for her whom he wanted cared for after his death.  Jane feels that "the swift darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world," and she involuntarily cries out, alerting Bessie and Abbot, who rush to the door.  Their actions anger Mrs. Reed, who tells Jane that her ploy will not release her from her punishment; she shoves Jane back into the room, and poor Jane falls unconscious.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial