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Superstitions in "Jane Eyre": How the Supernatural Affects the Rational

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Superstitions in "Jane Eyre": How the Supernatural Affects the Rational
When reading literature from different cultures around the world, most readers become familiar with certain aspects of each region's folklore. Every tribe or nation has heroes and villains, mythical or historical, which figure into its everyday conversation. As powerful as heroic men and women may be, often the more potent characters are the mysterious ones: the ghosts, the vampires, the banshees. These beasts are the visions dreamed in darkness, when people are less sensible of their surroundings and more emotionally anxious; they have a more supernatural feel about them. Charlotte Bronte plays off of these disturbing superstitions in her novel Jane Eyre. She creates a system so that each supernatural episode has certain elements and manifestations. These manifestations are interesting to observe, but Bronte uses them as much to emphasize the importance of events that do not follow the rules as to set the scene for the incidents that do. All of these episodes surround Jane Eyre, and each has some affect on her, influencing her either psychologically or in her decisions.

;The first appearance of Jane's superstition is the event in the Red Room. It seems as though Aunt Reed means to punish Jane by isolating her from her cousins, but the night alone is much more difficult for the girl because of her graphic imagination and superstitions. At first, she is too impassioned to think of anything other than her relatives' injustice. Mostly, Jane does not credit these superstitions when she's hotheaded, but when she's composed or when the atmosphere is cold. She is relatively calm in the Red Room until she grows "by degrees cold as stone" and she remembers what others have told her. Her superstitions are not merely a little girl's imaginative fabrication, but she was taught them by people she believed. Remembering the tales of dead men seeking justice at night, Jane is frightened that Mr. Reed's ghost, "harassed by the wrongs of his sister's child, might quit his abode."

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