Mystery And Suspense In Jayne Ayre Essay

, Research Paper

Mystery and suspense in Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre provides a

crucial element to the reader’s interpretation of the novel,

allowing Bronte to subtly aid the reader in foreboding coming

events. Bronte successfully creates mystery and suspense in her

novel through the use of both features of plot and narrative

techniques. Bronte’s features of plot which allow her to create

mystery and suspense are the esoteric nature of Grace Poole, the

visit of the fortune teller at Thornfield, and the fire in

Rochester’s bedroom and the subsequent mystery of what is in the

attic. Bronte’s narrative techniques are the use of literary

symbolism and dreams, both of which are used to convey a Gothic

and supernatural setting. Through the use of these literary

devices, Jane Eyre becomes both cabbalistic and prophetic.

Bronte’s character Grace Poole is surrounded by a obscure haze

from the reader’s first introduction to her, an effective device

used in order to create a mysterious atmosphere in the novel. Jane

first learns of the occult Grace Poole upon hearing her laugh upon

being shown the attic by Mrs Fairfax. Bronte first creates an

ambience of mystery through the initial description of the

setting. The attic is described by Jane as being “black as a

vault” (chapter 11, page 122) and the leading passageway as

“narrow, low, and dim” (chapter 11, page 122). Jane observes all

the doors being shut, which allows the reader to interpret the

third story of Thornfield as inaccessible and isolated, perhaps

intentionally attempting to conceal something, much likened to

“Bluebeard’s castle” (chapter 11, page 122) in which behind the

locked doors was hidden the deadly secret of the castle. The laugh

which Jane hears is described by Jane as being “a curious laugh;

distinct, formal, mirthless” (chapter 11, page 122). The

peculiarity of laugh, it not being cheerful nor delighted,

perplexes Jane as well as the reader, this intimating that the

origin of the laugh is not of the typical sort. Jane’s curiosity

prompts her to ask of Mrs Fairfax the origin of the laugh. Mrs

Fairfax’s vague answer does not satisfy Jane, even less so after

hearing the laugh once more, it being “tragic, as preternatural a

laugh as any I ever heard” (chapter 11, page 123). That another

inquisitive remark made by Jane is again answered vaguely after

which the subject of the conversation is soon changed only adds to

the suspense of the incident. Following the fire in Rochester’s

bedroom, Jane observes Grace Poole the next day in the room. The

circumstances in which this occurs are largely ordinary. It is

morning and Grace is dressed in her usual attire, her expression

showing “nothing either of the paleness or desperation one would

have expected to see marking the countenance of a woman who had

attempted murder” (chapter 16, page 176). The extreme ordinarity

of her provokes the reader into thinking past her exterior

appearance whilst simultaneously adding to the suspense of the

situation. Bronte again uses the outwardly evident normalcy of

Grace Poole in contrast to the earlier mysterious descriptions of

her to further develop the suspense surrounding her character as

Jane recounts to Rochester her dream of the unknown figure in her

closet who tears her wedding veil. Jane’s fear is momentarily

subsided by Rochester’s “solving of the mystery” (chapter 25, page

319) in a way which does not nearly satisfy the reader’s curiosity

due to Jane’s vivid description of the event and her horrifying

fear. Bronte uses Grace Poole to create an atmosphere of mystery

and suspense through vivid descriptions of the ghostly atmosphere

which emanates whenever she is present as well as a contrasting

ordinarity which further compels the reader to see Grace Poole in

light of a an “enigmatic character” (chapter 16, page 178).

The use of a fortune teller at Thornfield by Bronte allows her to

add mystery and suspense through the mystic and strange nature of

fortune tellers of that time. Bronte initially establishes a

suspenseful ambience through Jane’s remark; “and the Sybil – if

Sybil she were” (chapter 19, page 221) which suggests to the

reader that her character is perhaps doubtful and she may not be

who she at first seems. The reader is made eager to hear the

fortune of our heroine through Jane’s apathetic indifference as to

whether it is read or not; “I don’t care about it, mother; but you

may please yourself” (chapter 19, page 221). Possibly the most

mysterious and suspenseful feature of plot is the fortune tellers

precisely accurate account of Jane’s predicament; “You are cold,

because you are alone: no contact strikes the fire from you that

is in you. You are sick; because the best of feelings, the highest

and the sweetest given to man, keeps far away from you. You are

silly, because, suffer as you may, you will not beckon it to

approach; nor will you stir one step to meet it where it awaits

you.” (chapter 19, page 222). This description of Jane’s

circumstance both compels the reader to trust the source, it being

rather accurate, whilst also creates suspense as to what shall

become of Jane and Rochester, which the reader is well aware that

such is what the fortune teller is alluding to. Upon her mention

of the enigmatic Grace Poole, both Jane and the reader are

startled. The reader is again drawn into the abstruseness of the

situation through the fortune teller’s astounding knowledge of

Jane’s habits, and even more so by her subtle but discernible

quest for some sort of information, neither the reader nor Jane

knowing what exactly it is she wants to hear, however this adds to

the suspense in our desire to know. As the subject of Mr Rochester

is brought up it seems as if the fortune teller has struck her

chord. However it is with her revelation of his forthcoming

marriage which more interests the reader. A climax of suspense and

mystery is reached as Rochester steps out of his disguise.

Although it can be said that the divulgence of his identify

somewhat solved the mystery, it is even more accurate to say that

this revelation merely added to the mystery, his intended purpose

still to be discovered. Rochester’s apparent disturbance at the

knowledge of Mason’s residence at Thornfield provokes the reader’s

attention, creating suspense as to his purpose and coming events.

Bronte leaves the reader ill at ease with Jane’s closing comment;

“the gay tones set my heart at ease” (chapter 19, page 230). The

reader is well aware that this will be no peaceful nights sleep.

Bronte has successfully created tension and suspense as to the

almost certainly tragic impending events.

The fire in Rochester’s bedroom not only forms a sense of mystery


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