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Jane Eyre Socratic Seminar

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1 Jane Eyre Socratic Seminar

2 The Bildungsroman Angle
Compare and contrast Jane’s formal and informal education—what does each teach her? At what point(s) in the novel does Jane value learning for its own sake? In a recent adaptation of the novel for television, the story begins with Jane’s running to Rochester; the director did not seem to deem Chapters 1-11 necessary. How does our understanding of Jane’s childhood and child self contribute to our understanding of her as an adult?

3 Society and Class Where does Jane stand in the social hierarchy? Does she have social mobility that does not depend upon marriage with Mr. Rochester? Why does Bronte have Jane inherit money before she is reacquainted with Mr. Rochester? How do Jane’s attitudes towards poverty and the poor change over the course of the novel? Does religion factor into this attitude change?

4 Supernatural and Religion
Why does Bronte explain away most of the novel’s seemingly supernatural elements? How does Bronte use religion to promote British nationalism? How does Bronte also use religion to promote the theme of hypocrisy?

5 Morality/Ethics Does Jane learn her morality from Helen Burns, or does she have an innate sense of goodness that Helen merely cultivates? Would you consider Mr. Rochester an immoral person or one who is overwhelmed with the misfortunes he has suffered? Once he find out the truth about Bertha, with whom do our sympathies lie?

6 The Foreign Element What is the novel’s attitude toward each of these places? What do they and their stereotypes represent? How does Bronte use the notion of the “other” to promote British nationalism? To what extent are characters and/or situations in Jane Eyre affected, or created, by British imperialism and/or colonialism?

7 Miscellaneous Why is it necessary for Jane to be plain? How would the story lose some value (or would it?) if she were beautiful? Is Jane too extreme in her quest for independence? Doe Bronte succeed in creating an independent and assertive female protagonist?

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