Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre: A reconsideration

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre: A reconsideration

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In Lowood, a great part of Jane's character will be based on the concepts of (in)visibility as well as on the power of the gaze.
Talking about Miss Temple, Jane Eyre says that Miss Temple's "language" has: "something which chastened the pleasure of those who looked on her" (Ch. , p.69). Unlike most of Jane's visibilities, Miss Temple 's is a positive visibility that pleases the beholder's eyes. One may say this is because Jane loves this teacher and she is, more likely blinded by her love and admiration for Miss Temple. However, there is a sense of pleasantness associated with the character of Miss Temple. Such claims might be truer in the case of Jane who once goes on to say: "The refreshing meals, the brilliant fire. . . . they glowed in the bright tint of her cheek. (p. 70)

After the departure of Miss Temple Jane who now "lost" her "stead" mother and till this moment has never left Lowood is "dawned" by what she calls "another discovery" (p 81):
I had undergone a transforming process; that my mind had put off all it had borrowed of Miss Temple …. My world had for some years been in Lowood, my experience had been of its rules and systems; now I remember that the real world is wide… (81)
The invisibility of Miss Temple has posed an opportunity for Jane's mind eye to transgress the visible (Lowood with all what it meant to Jane) to the invisible (or what she calls the "real world") which, at this very moment, at least, invisible to her as it lies beyond the walls of this institution. It is this unthought-of-invisible that fashions Jane's character in the coming chapters of the novel. It also determines her power of the gaze: That is the way she looks at and feels about the world around her. Jane's new romantic self becomes a corollary of her interest in exploring the invisible that lies beyond the boundaries of Lowood. The new transformed self is also reflected in Jane's forgiveness of her aunt Sarah Reed when she visits her at a latter time.
I saw her in a black gown …. From the town (85)
I looked I saw a woman attired like a well-dressed servant (86)
After miss Temple's departure from Lowood, Jane starts thinking ambitiously of knowing what lies beyond the boundaries of Lowood school:

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I went to my window, open it, and looked out. …. My eye passel all other objects to rest on those most remote, the blue peaks. It was those I longed to surmount …… (ch. 10, 86)
It was the extreme limit of the gaze that determined Jane's longing. This I why her eye rest on the remote, not the near objects. Besides, Jane's length of the gaze is made here a symbol of her ambitious, restless soul.

Bessie's impression by Jane's new "shape" at Lowood was not interpreted properly by Jane. As Bessie comes to know about Jane's attempt to find a job away from Lowood she goes to visit her at Lowood. Here is what Jane has to say:
I perceived that Bessie's glance, though it expressed regard, did in no shape denote admiration (86)
Jane here is misreading Bessie's "gaze" who is now happily surprised with the visible change in Jane's physiognomy. However, Bessie adds that Jane was "no beauty as a child" (86). This leaves the reader with a new criterion of visibility: beauty. Indeed, it is beauty that makes Georgina the most visible in the Reeds as different descriptions of her clarify.
Having her own share of this new criterion, Jane becomes more visible to Bessie's eyes: "…. You look like a lady"
Invisibility, sometimes, takes the guise of hatred. When Jane goes to see her dying aunt she is ignored by her cousins to the extent that she says: "Georgiana would chatter nonsense to her canary bird by the hour and take no notice of me" (228).
Jane overcomes this invisibility by busying herself in drawing. "But I was determined not to seem at loss for occupation or amusement: I had brought my drawing materials with me and they served me for both" (228). Drawing, an activity that makes things visible, is a tactic Jane uses to fight back her invisibility in the eyes of the Reeds. This very act raises the Reeds' curiosity who wanted to know what Jane was drawing o which her answer comes: "I had a friend's face under my gaze" (229)

Finally, in more than a half of Bronte's text, it is not hard to trace the (in)visibility as well the many gazes that have domineered Jane's and Mr. Rochester's relationship.



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