Jane Eyre - Extract 1

This GCSE English Literature quiz is the first of two extract questions for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. It takes place towards the end of Volume I, when Jane has become somewhat dissatisfied with the routine and quiet nature of her employment as a governess. Having left Lowood School in search of new experiences, a new location and new people to know, she finds that she is not as satisfied as she had hoped.

How to answer an extract question in an exam:

Before writing your answer to an extract question, make sure that you read the passage through more than once. Try to make this a habit because re-reading gives you the opportunity to notice different details and aspects of the passage.

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The first time you read a passage you should try to gain a general understanding and consider how its details relate to the question you will be answering. On the second reading you can make detailed notes and annotations. Having carefully considered the passage you can then begin to plan exactly how you will use these details to answer the question.

Think about the reasons behind the choice of extract. How is it important to the text? What role does it play? Decide which themes are evident. Think about the characters which appear in the passage and how each individual’s experience might differ. What is the relationship between the passage and all that follows in the text? Is there any evidence of foreshadowing? How would you describe the passage’s relationship to earlier events? Is there a turning point? Consider the extract’s ending: what possible reasons can there be for the passage to end where it does? Is the final line significant?

Think carefully about the specific wording of the question you have chosen to answer. What specifically are you asked to discuss? Extract questions can focus on many different aspects, including mood and atmosphere, character, dialogue or theme. You could be asked to give a personal response to the passage or to a character. Begin by explaining the passage’s immediate context: show that you know which events precede the extract, drawing attention to their relevance. Be sure to refer to the detail of the passage, rather than keeping the discussion too general. Analyse the relationship between the passage and the text’s themes. It is useful to group related ideas together to give your answer some structure. Planning carefully will help ensure that you have enough time to discuss the entire passage.

Read the extract below carefully before answering the questions.

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My help had been needed and claimed; I had given it: I was pleased to have done something; trivial, transitory though the deed was, it was an active thing, and I was weary of an existence all passive. The new face, too, was like a new picture introduced to the gallery of memory; and it was dissimilar to all the others hanging there: firstly, because it was masculine; and secondly, because it was dark, strong and stern. I had it still before me when I entered Hay, and slipped the letter into the post-office; I saw it as I walked fast down hill all the way home. When I came to the stile I stopped a minute, looked round and listened; with an idea that a horse’s hoofs might ring on the causeway again, and that a rider in a cloak, and a Gytrash-like Newfoundland dog, might be again apparent: I saw only the hedge and a pollard willow before me, rising up still and straight to meet the moonbeams; I heard only the faintest waft of wind, roaming fitful among the trees round Thornfield, a mile distant; and when I glanced down in the direction of the murmur, my eye, traversing the hall-front, caught a light kindling in a window: it reminded me that I was late, and I hurried on.

I did not like re-entering Thornfield. To pass its threshold was a return to stagnation: to cross the silent hall, to ascend the darksome staircase, to seek my own lonely little room, and then to meet tranquil Mrs Fairfax, and spend the long winter evening with her and her only, was to quell wholly the faint excitement wakened by my walk, — to slip again over my faculties the viewless fetters of an uniform and too still existence; of an existence whose very privileges of security and ease I was becoming incapable of appreciating. What good it would have done me at that time to have been tossed in the storms of an uncertain struggling life, and to have been taught by rough and bitter experience to long for the calm amidst which I now repined! Yes, just as much good as it would do a man tired of sitting still in a a “too easy chair” to take a long walk: and just as natural was the wish to stir, under my circumstances, as it would be under his.

I lingered at the gates; I lingered on the lawn; I paced backwards and forwards on the pavement: the shutters of the glass door were closed; I could not see into the interior; and both my eyes and spirit seemed drawn from the gloomy house — from the gray hollow filled with rayless cells, as it appeared to me — to that sky expanded before me, a blue sea absolved from taint of cloud; the moon ascending it in solemn march; her orb seeming to look up as she left the hill tops, from behind which she had come, far and farther below her, and aspired to the zenith, midnight-dark in its fathomless depth and measureless distance: and for those trembling stars that followed her course, they made my heart tremble, my veins glow when I viewed them. Little things recall us to earth: the clock struck in the hall; that sufficed; I turned from moon and stars, opened a side-door and went in.

The hall was not dark, nor yet was it lit only by the high-hung bronze lamp: a warm glow suffused both it and the lower steps of the oak staircase.

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Oxford University Press, 1975)
  1. What is the immediate context for this passage?
    Jane does not yet know that the man she met, whose horse she startled, was Mr Rochester
  2. What immediately follows this passage?
    Jane recognises the dog, Pilot, in Mrs Fairfax's room
  3. Which of the following words represents the abundant possibilities which Jane seeks in life?
    Jane is reluctant to enter the Hall after her meeting with the unknown Mr Rochester. The world outside, and especially the sky, represents possibility and potential, qualities which her domestic life does not offer
  4. Jane is beginning to feel stifled and constricted by her new environment. Which of the following words does NOT hint at her struggle with these feelings?
    Jane longs for storms and uncertainty over the predictability and narrowness of her (pre-Rochester) life at Thornfield Hall
  5. "The hall was not dark, nor yet was it lit only by the high-hung bronze lamp: a warm glow suffused both it and the lower steps of the oak staircase." Which of the following is implied by this line?
    Thornfield Hall comes to life for Mr Rochester. The "warm glow" suffusing the ordinarily dark surroundings also represents his effect on Jane's perceptions of the house
  6. What simile does Jane use for her memory of Rochester's appearance?
    Her memory of Rochester's face is like a portrait hanging in a gallery with other portraits (memories of other people Jane has known)
  7. What does Jane consider to be "dark, strong, and stern"?
    Jane is struck by the difference between Mr Rochester and anyone else she has ever known
  8. Which of the following statements is correct?
    Jane thinks of her existence as "passive" and "too still"
  9. "I turned from moon and stars, opened a side-door and went in." This sentence contains an example of which of the following?
    The grandeur of moon and stars is juxtaposed effectively with the small and humble nature of the side-door
  10. Which of the following words best describes the atmosphere of this passage?
    There is a sense that a great shift has occurred, despite Jane's pessimistic view

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