Prof. Shannon O’Byrne talks "Law & Emotion in Brontë’s Jane Eyre" at Osgoode Hall Law School

Katherine Thompson - 20 February 2014

Professor Shannon O'Byrne of the University of Alberta Faculty of Law recently travelled to Toronto to be part of Osgoode Hall Law School's Law.Arts.Culture Colloquium 2014.

In her talk "Law and Emotion in Brontë 's Jane Eyre", Professor O'Byrne explored how Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel can be read as offering literary and cultural context to why contract law historically abhorred emotion. Brontë's novel, written during some of contract law's formative years, likewise reflects a wary perspective on emotion, including in its horrific depiction of Bertha and in one of the novel's overarching lessons. With Bertha's character offering the Gothic backdrop for raging, out of control emotion, Miss Jane Eyre (the feisty, combative and often angry orphan protagonist) learns that she must choose the authority of legal and moral tenets over intense feelings and rebelliousness. Only then does the novel grant Jane financial fortune and her love match.