Reading Questions: Jane Eyre, volume II

For our discussion of the second volume of Jane Eyre, you might want to focus on a few things. First, the opposition that the novel sets up between Blanche Ingram and Jane: what is its purpose? What do we learn–about Jane, about Rochester, about marriage (among other things)?

There are a few “set pieces” in this volume worth thinking about further as well. First, the game of charades (ch. 3/18, especially pp. 206-209). Later in the same chapter, we also have the episode with the fortune-telling “gypsy.” What do these two scenes of masquerade and play-acting have in common? How do they advance the plot? How do they advance our understanding of character?

Jane’s return to Gateshead in this volume brings us back to the Reeds, whom we left early in volume I. What is revealed in this visit? How has Jane’s relationship with her aunt and cousins changed? (See esp. ch. 6/21, pp. 257-271.)

Compare the incident with the burning bed in volume I with the attack on Mason in volume II. What are the similarities and differences between these incidents–both in terms of what leads up to them and how they are resolved? (See esp. volume I, ch. 15 and volume II, ch. 5/20.)

A large part of volume II is, of course, taken up with Jane and Rochester’s developing relationship, culminating in their aborted marriage. Close read the proposal scene for clues as to the wedding’s outcome: are there any? What else strikes you about the proposal scene (see esp. ch. 8/23, pp. 282-286) and their engagement period?

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