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Study Guide : Jane Eyre: Themes

Themes are ideas that run all the way through a literary text. They are great to explore because you can analyse the writer's intentions: what have they done? Why? What are they trying to make the reader think and feel? This allows your analysis to be extended and developed, allowing you to write comprehensively about a literary text.

In Jane Eyre there are many themes to analyse. Here's three main ones:

  • Love and hate
  • Social class
  • Personal discovery 

Jane Eyre - Themes

Taken from Bitesize

Personal discovery

The form of Brontë's Jane Eyre is a bildungsroman. A bildungsroman is a novel that follows the main protagonist and the struggles they have from their childhood to adulthood. The main protagonist learns from their experiences and this develops them as a person. The novel ends with them usually succeeding in later life, often finding happiness.

In Jane Eyre, Jane goes on a journey of personal discovery and finds out who she is, both in terms of her own identity and personality, and how she .read more...

Themes - a video


Love and Hate

In Jane Eyre Brontë deals with love and how characters respond to this emotion. Throughout the novel, the reader learns the true value of love - how it can benefit others, how Jane responds to love and how it develops her as a person. Equally, Brontë shows the other side of love, which is hate, and what this can do to individuals.

Love and hate are binary opposites, meaning that the two emotions are the complete opposite.

The emotions of love and hate are primarily shown through the characters Jane meets and has a relationship with. In Jane's childhood, for example, her aunt and her family are described as detesting Jane, physically and emotionally abusing her on several occasions. read more...

Social class

In Brontë's Jane Eyre social class is a recurring theme, as class dictates what a character can and can't do and how they are viewed by others. This is because in the Victorian period, class determined how an individual lived their life. Social class determined marriage, as people tended to marry partners within their own social class. Women were in a particularly vulnerable position, as men and their families tended to choose a suitable wife on the basis of the woman's dowry, a sum of money that the male received from the bride's family through marriage.

Social class is presented in Brontë's Jane Eyre through Jane's lack of money and how others view her because of this. It is also presented through Jane's role as a governess and the money she later receives in her uncle's will read more...

Setting, symbolism and themes

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