by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre The Supernatural Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Volume.Chapter.Paragraph)
Returning, I had to cross before the looking-glass; my fascinated glance involuntarily explored the depth it revealed. All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: and the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the effect of a real spirit: I thought it like one of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp, Bessie’s evening stories represented as coming out of lone, ferny dells in moors, and appearing before the eyes of belated travelers. (1.2.24)
When Jane sees herself in the mirror as a child, she sees herself as something uncanny—perhaps a ghost or a fairy, something out of the kind of tales her nursemaid tells her by the fireside. If even Jane perceives herself as unnatural, it’s not surprising that Rochester is going to be continually disconcerted by her.
Shaking my hair from my eyes, I lifted my head and tried to look boldly round the dark room: at this moment a light gleamed on the wall. Was it, I asked myself, a ray from the moon penetrating some aperture in the blind? No; moonlight was still, and this stirred; while I gazed, it glided up to the ceiling and quivered over my head. I can now conjecture readily that this streak of light was, in all likelihood, a gleam from a lantern, carried by some one across the lawn: but then, prepared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings: something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated: endurance broke down—I uttered a wild, involuntary cry—I rushed to the door and shook the lock in a desperate effort. (1.2.32)
What actually happens to Jane during her traumatic experience in the red room is somewhat ambiguous. The older, more experienced Jane who is narrating the story is ready to find a rational explanation for the strange light that she saw as a child; the child Jane is convinced that this light is the beginning of the manifestation of Mr. Reed’s ghost. What is clear is that Jane panics before the question can be resolved—the anticipation of seeing the ghost is itself the trauma, and, as Jane will tell us, her nerves never really recover from this shock.
The laugh was repeated in its low, syllabic tone, and terminated in an odd murmur.
"Grace!" exclaimed Mrs. Fairfax.
I really did not expect any Grace to answer; for the laugh was as tragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard; and, but that it was high noon, and that no circumstances of ghostliness accompanied the curious cachination; but that neither scene nor season favoured fear, I should have been superstitiously afraid. However, the event showed me I was a fool for entertaining even a sense of surprise.
The door nearest me opened, and a servant came out,—a woman of between thirty and forty; a set, square-made figure, red-haired, and with a hard, plain face: any apparition less romantic or less ghostly could scarcely be conceived. (1.11.118-121)
Jane seems almost eager to find a ghost in the attic of Thornfield—or maybe she’s just a bit paranoid because of her experience with what might have been, or seemed like, her Uncle Reed’s ghost. However, her first attempt to find something creepy in the attic is unsuccessful—all she finds is a stout, middle-aged, red-headed servant. Not very eerie, that one.
Jane Eyre the novel—and Jane Eyre the narrator—will continually tease us with things that seem spooky but turn out to be extremely plain. It’s the suspense that occurs in between the suspicion of the supernatural and the revelation of the rational that makes the novel so exciting. Why does Jane keep looking for the supernatural? Why does the novel keep finding ways to explain away things that seem supernatural?