What to teach on Jane Eyre?
In my AP Literature class, another student and I are to “teach” Jane Eyre to the class in two class periods. The teacher will introduce background information etc, beforehand, and we are supposed to lead a discussion and/or basically anything that furthers in depth understanding of the novel. I’m almost half way through the novel and all I can say that I love it! However, at this point in the time I’m already supposed to know what to teach the class in a few weeks--I’m a little stumped as to what I should focus on. What are some crucial things to understand in Jane Eyre that I could teach the class?
Thanks so much in advance!
If the class has already read the Scarlet Letter, you can have them compare and contrast these two works (as I did for my college thesis!)
One of the points that struck me, having read these two almost back to back, was that they were published within a year or two of each other (1850 and 1848, I believe.) Both have the element of the "excluded woman" Jane is the outsider in all the various halls and houses in which she resides; Hester also is the outsider banished to the edge of the Puritan community.
Interestingly, both cultures end their respective novels by revolving around the heroine -- Rochester is dependent upon Jane at Ferndean Manor; the Puritan village seeks out the support of Hester at her cabin, as she is one who has suffered "a mighty trouble."
Because they were published nearly simultaneously, I made the argument that these novels were, in fact, synonymous -- A shunned woman, one set in English Gothic, the other set in the American Wilderness, both of which incorporated elements of the supernatural and both of which end with the heroine's eventual transcendence of her respective culture.
Most curiously, the process by which Jane and Hester arrive at their respective positions at the stories conclusions are exactly opposite -- one follows the rules, one breaks them.
Even if you choose not to incorporate The Scarlet Letter, I hope some of my commentary regarding Jane Eyre will inspire and lead you and your class to fruitful discussion!