Jane Eyre and Social Justice: How to Survive a (Victorian) “Witch” Trial
- Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural
- Penn State University Press
- Volume 9, Number 2, 2020
- pp. 209-242
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This article argues that Jane Eyre was both “witch” and witch-trialed. Her ability to perform “witchcraft” (within the framework of Victorian folklore) enabled her to endure and ultimately triumph over a litany of ordeals often associated with the witch-trials, namely, unjust accusations, societal and familial exclusion, poverty, abandonment, and physical and psychological abuse. She overcomes all obstacles with the help of heartfelt incantations (some spoken aloud, others silently willed), control of the elements (fire, water, storms, and moonlight feature prominently), innate occult abilities (extra-sensory perception and supernaturally sharp prescience), and the summoning of folklore and “familiars” (human, animal, spectral) to assist her along the way.