Bronte and Dickens have similar narrative techniques. Both describe events from the point of view of a narrator remembering the past, and in both works, the narrator's present ideas concerning past events surface. In the given passage, Jane describes her emotions concerning Rochester. She had felt excited and hopeful when Rochester held her hand and showed interest in her after saving him from the fire. Her current ideas of the episode also appear in the scene when she says: "Sense would resist delirium, judgment would warn passion." Thus, Jane does not only describe events as they had occurred, but also incorporates her present evaluations of the episodes. This technique also appears in Great Expectations. Pip describes his feelings of inadequacy concerning himself and his family after spending the day with Miss Havisham and Estella for the first time: "I thought how Joe and my sister were then sitting in the kitchen, and how I had come up to bed from the kitchen, and how Miss Havisham and Estella never sat in the kitchen, but were far above the level of such common doings." (101; ch.9). In the next paragraph, he comments on that day from his present point of view:

That was a memorable day for me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same way with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns and flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day. [ch.9]

The voice in this passage is clearly that of the mature Pip, reflecting on his past, rather than that of the young Pip with the innocent and naive view of life. This technique enables the authors to assert commentaries concerning past events that they may not be able to relay in the voice of the young, not yet mature, narrators.


Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens Great Expectations

Last modified 1996

Last modified 8 June 2007