When Jane Eyre, a gothic romance, was published in 1847, the novel was enormously popular with those who identified with Brontë’s heroine:, a young woman who defines her own identity without compromising her integrity, despite the lack of opportunities afforded women in Victorian society. As the novel’s narrator, Jane recounts her experiences as a penniless orphan and an unwanted charge in her aunt’s home, as a student in an abusive boarding school, and finally as a governess at Thornfield, the estate of the wealthy and mysterious Edward Rochester. Jane and Rochester’s unlikely romance and their eventual marriage is the focus of the second half of the novel, but Jane’s character is continually developed through her relationships with other characters at various points in her life.
Throughout the novel, Jane describes herself and those who impact her life, but the characters’ motivations, personal traits, and relationships are also revealed through dialogue. Diction (word choice) plays an essential role in writing dialogue because it creates mood in the text while developing characters and establishing events in the plot and subtexts in the novel. Consequently, interpreting dialogue and diction in scenes between and among characters is an effective tool to employ in understanding them. The following activity will help students analyze passages of dialogue from Jane Eyre and determine how they reveal the characters.
Skills: character analysis, drawing inferences from text, interpreting diction for connotative meaning
In completing this activity, students will
- analyze passages of dialogue to identify the speaker’s character traits, conflicts, and motivations;
- examine the diction in passages of dialogue to interpret the connotations of key words and explain how they create mood in the scene;
- determine from passages of dialogue characteristics of the speaker’s relationship with another character in the novel.
Our eNotes Classroom Activities give students opportunities to practice developing a variety of skills. Whether analyzing literary devices or interpreting connotative language, students will work directly with the text. The main components of our classroom activities include the following:
- A handout defining the literary elements under discussion, complete with examples
- A step-by-step guide to activity procedure
- An answer key or selected examples for reference, depending on the activity
In completing these classroom activities, students will be able to classify and analyze different literary elements, thereby developing close-reading skills and drawing deeper inferences from the text.