Student Question

How does Jane Eyre relate to the psychoanalytic or Freudian critical perspective? Can you create a related thesis for a thematic essay?

Expert Answers

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The psychoanalytic or Freudian critical perspective may work well on a text like Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre because the novel is filled with psychological conflict and anxiety. Let's look at some possibilities you might discuss in your essay.

First, it is important to note that the psychoanalytic or Freudian critical perspective looks at a text through the lens of Freud's theories. This means that you might choose to write about the subconscious, underlying sexual conflicts, emotional frustrations, dreams, and symbols. Start by asking yourself some questions that relate to these areas. You might think about how Jane's childhood experiences affect her. You might wonder why Bertha has gone crazy and how her madness affects Rochester as well as how her death and Rochester's injury change him. You might look at the symbol of the fire and how that works on a deeper level than a mere plot resolution. You could even explore how and why Jane changes by the end of the novel.

If you choose the last of these, for instance, you could focus on Jane's character, her growing confidence, the reasons why she decides to leave Rochester, the conflict with St. John, and the effect that financial security has on Jane's thoughts and decision-making. That inherited money, in fact, may be a strong symbol.

Finally, you are asked to incorporate a theme into your paper. You might choose anxiety or the connection between love and freedom. Jane has to deal directly with both of these issues throughout the novel.

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