Jane Eyre: "Hazarding confidences"

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Abstract

This essay argues that Jane Eyre (1847) is an elaborate confidence game in which Rochester takes Jane into his confidence in order to lie to her and that Jane responds by first masquerading as his confidante and then taking the reader into her confidence to lie to her as well. Jane's retrospectively informed narration must be seen as working against her naive, romantic plot. Brontë has not written a conventional marriage plot but rather a revenge novel in which Jane reveals secrets that the blinded Rochester cannot read. Jane actively and consciously uses Bertha to draw attention away from her own act of revenge. Unlike Bertha's terrifying ineptitude, Jane's revenge works because it is controlled, sustained, articulate, and above all disguised. I argue against a correlation between Jane's acquisition of speech and her development as the writer of her story. Jane never writes within the pages of her novel; it is crucial to her success that Rochester fall in love with a silent listener, a woman he believes has no story of her own.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-479
Number of pages28
JournalNineteenth-Century Literature
Volume53
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1999

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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