What is an example of a character learning from paranormal experiences such as dreams or visions in Jane Eyre?

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An example of a supernatural occurrence is when Jane dreams of a baby and then gets news that her aunt is dying.

Jane Eyre is a gothic book, meaning that it contains elements of the spooky and supernatural.  One example of this is premonitions.  A premonition is a hint that something is going to happen.  When Jane was younger, she learned that dreaming of children was a premonition of danger, because “to dream of children was a sure sign of trouble, either to one's self or one's kin” (ch 21, p. 160).  Therefore when she begins to have dreams of a baby, she is worried.

I did not like this iteration of one idea—this strange recurrence of one image; and I grew nervous as bedtime approached, and the hour of the vision drew near. (ch 21, p. 160)

The news turns out to be that her aunt is dying and has sent for her.  Jane’s cousin John Reed is dead.  When Jane goes to see her aunt, who tells her she never liked Jane and she kept a letter from her uncle John Eyre secret because she did not want Jane to be raised comfortably.

In Jane’s dream, the baby both laughs and fusses.  This foreshadows the good and bad news Jane gets when she goes home to her aunt.  She learns that she did have an uncle who wanted her at one time, but she also learns that her aunt prevented her from having led a better life.

The baby’s two moods can also represent Jane’s attitudes toward her aunt’s death.  She is not so horrible a person to really be happy the woman who is no longer in her life is dead (she refers to her as "Poor suffering woman!" (p. 173), but she also can be relieved.  She forgives her aunt but does not show her kindness.

“Love me, then, or hate me, as you will,” I said at last, “you have my full and free forgiveness: ask now for God's; and be at peace.” (ch 21, p. 173)

Jane is able to move on.  As an adult, she is no longer at her aunt's mercy.  She has made a life for herself, and can close this chapter.

Although it is easy to laugh off the gothic undertones as pure fun, they do contribute to the theme of the book. The mood is often dark as a result of the supernatural elements.  Bronte is telling us something important about life.  Sometimes you know things, and you need to trust your instincts. 


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