Explain the literary technique that Bronte uses in the following quotation: "What sweet madness has seized me?" What effect does it have on the text?

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The blind Rochester exclaims this near the end of the novel, when Jane returns to him. As he realizes, from the sound of her voice, that it is really her, he simply can't believe it. At first, he wonders aloud if he is deluding himself and hearing voices.

Rochester's question...

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The blind Rochester exclaims this near the end of the novel, when Jane returns to him. As he realizes, from the sound of her voice, that it is really her, he simply can't believe it. At first, he wonders aloud if he is deluding himself and hearing voices.

Rochester's question "what sweet madness has seized me?" uses the literary device of antithesis, or the joining of opposites, in the words "sweet madness." These convey Rochester's heightened sense of mingled joy and confusion. The idea that it might really be Jane is "sweet" to him; nevertheless, it is seems so impossible that he wonders if he is suffering from insanity. He also uses alliteration in the juxtaposition of "sweet" and "seized," also heightening the impact of the moment.

The compactness of the phrase "sweet madness" conveys the giddy intensity of Rochester's emotions. The entire reunion scene is fraught with emotional intensity, because the two never thought they would meet again.

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The phrase combines several different figures of speech. The first is apostrophe, or direct address, in which a person is addressing someone absent, or even herself, and "overheard" as it were by the intended audience of the reader. It is a "rhetorical question" which differs from a normal question in that it is intended for effect rather than being an address of one person to another intended to elicit information. In describing madness as "seizing", the phrase employs personification, treating an emotion as though it were an individual person or agent capable of action. This externalizes the emotion, making the reader sense the character being swept away by emotions descending from the outside, which the character is powerless to resist. This amplifies the effect of the reading situation, in which our emotions are engaged by the external voice of the author, an effect also created by the engagement of the reader directly by use of apostrophe and rhetorical question.

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