Jane Eyre as an Unconventional or Untraditional Novel

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Jane Eyre is a notable literary work by Charlotte Brontë. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Jane Eyre.


In what sense is “Jane Eyre” an unconventional/untraditional novel

“Jane Eyre” (1847), written by Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855), stands out as an unconventional novel in many ways. It fought the societal norms of its time. This remarkable work portrays an independent and strong-willed female protagonist, Jane, who challenges gender roles and seeks love and respect. The novel is structured with complex morality, class, and spirituality themes, paving the way for modern storytelling. Let us explore how “Jane Eyre” breaks literary boundaries as an untraditional and timeless masterpiece.

Unconventional Protagonist: Unlike the typical heroines of the era, Jane Eyre defies societal expectations. She is described as plain, poor, and orphaned. Jane’s self-reliance and determination are evident when she declares, 

I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.

Bildungsroman Structure: “Jane Eyre” follows the Bildungsroman structure, focusing on the protagonist’s moral and psychological growth. Brontë adds a twist by employing a first-person narrative, allowing readers to experience Jane’s journey intimately. It permits readers to empathize with her struggles and emotions.

Exploration of Class Differences: The novel explores the vast disparities between the upper and lower classes, highlighting the harsh treatment of low-income people and their challenges. Jane challenges the notion of class superiority when she states, 

Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?

Unconventional Love Story: The romance between Jane and Rochester defies societal norms due to their class differences and Rochester’s existing marriage. Their relationship challenges the traditional idea of love and societal expectations. Jane’s assertion of her worth personifies this unconventional love when she says, 

I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh.

Psychological Depth: Brontë analyzes the psychological complexities of her characters, specifically Jane. The novel explores the human mind and emotions, including the sophistication of the human psyche, which was uncommon for its time.

Autobiographical Elements: The novel comprises autobiographical elements from Charlotte Bronte’s life, giving it a personal touch and breaking the barriers between fiction and reality.

I hold a creed, which no one ever taught me, and which I seldom mention, but in which I delight, and to which I cling, for it extends hope to all: it makes Eternity a rest.

Gothic Elements: Bronte blends gothic elements, such as eerie settings and supernatural occurrences, adding a mysterious and unconventional atmosphere to the novel. The description of the Red Room and its impact on Jane’s imagination is an example of this gothic aspect.

Inner Conflict and Self-Discovery: Jane’s journey is not just an external one but also an internal exploration of her emotions, desires, and principles. The novel emphasizes the importance of self-discovery and staying true to one’s beliefs.

Feminist Themes: “Jane Eyre” carries feminist themes and advocates for gender equality and challenging traditional gender roles. Jane’s refusal to be oppressed by men and her determination to live on her terms make her a feminist icon. 

Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do.

“Jane Eyre” is an unconventional novel that defies the norms and conventions of its time. Its unique protagonist, exploration of class and gender differences, use of gothic elements, and psychological depth set it apart from traditional Victorian literature. Brontë’s masterful storytelling and portrayal of a strong, independent female character make “Jane Eyre” a timeless and revolutionary work of literature.