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Foreshadowing in Jane Eyre

Foreshadowing Examples in Jane Eyre:

Chapter II

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"Gateshead Hall..."   (Chapter II)

Brontë begins Jane’s story at Gateshead. Note the significance and slight wordplay here, as a gate suggests an entrance and this is the head of Jane’s journey. The names of other places Jane visits will have similar symbolism and foreshadow the experiences she has at each one.

"what large prominent teeth!..."   (Chapter IV)

This succession of exclamations about Mr. Brocklehurst’s appearance alludes to the Big Bad Wolf from the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood." This claim is also supported by repeated associations between the color red and Jane’s character. This subtle allusion foreshadows the preying, antagonistic way Brocklehurst treats others later in the novel.

"I live in calm, looking to the end..."   (Chapter VI)

This paragraph details some of Helen’s views on religion and what it means to be pious. Much of it is concerned with how death can cleanse the body of sin. She doesn’t fear death, but she seems to embrace it. This scene foreshadows a critical moment later in the text that will test Helen’s positive outlook towards death.

"While I paced softly on, the last sound I expected to hear in so still a region, a laugh, struck my ear...."   (Chapter XI)

Pacing is a common motif throughout Jane Eyre. Both Jane and Bertha are similar in their movements, specifically how they pace to and fro. This is just one of many examples of how Brontë draws parallels between the virginal protagonist, Jane, and her double, Bertha.

"Bluebeard's castle..."   (Chapter XI)

This phrase alludes to the story of Bluebeard, a murderous duke, who tests all of his new wives by leaving the castle and telling them not to look behind a specific door. The wives become victims to their temptations when Bluebeard discovers they broke their promises. This allusion has an element of foreshadowing for Jane’s story, as it relates to the mystery of the attic later on.

"Thornfield..."   (Chapter XI)

Jane’s new home of Thornfield, just like her previous residences, is a play on words. It may reference the book of Genesis 3:18, which details the fall of man, foreshadowing another rough patch ahead for Jane.

"Beulah..."   (Chapter XV)

This is an allusion to the land of Israel, as described in the Bible, that was promised to the Jews after their return from exile in Egypt, representing relief after hardship. After her rough childhood, this dream foreshadows a change for the better in Jane’s life. Note that Rochester is an important element of this change.

"I don't understand enigmas...."   (Chapter XIX)

Note how Brontë establishes that Jane dislikes anything puzzling or difficult to understand; she appreciates honesty and transparency. This foreshadows a critical moment later in the novel where Jane experiences inner turmoil as her values and desires conflict.

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