From Servitude to Freedom in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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From Servitude to Freedom in Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte's novel, Jane Eyre, skillfully reveals that Jane, the protagonist, has the qualities of endurance, valor, and vitality, yet she is refused self-contentment by the confined society in which she lives. Not only is this work a love story, but it is the tale of a young orphaned girl and her struggle for love and independence. Through the various environments Bronte provides, Jane oscillates between education and containment and also between freedom and servitude. Beginning at Gateshead, Jane has her first experience of containment in dealing with the Reeds. John Reed blatantly smothers Jane's space by treating her like a slave, and Mrs. Reed enslaves her in every way. Mrs. Reed treats Jane as a stepchild instead of a niece and oftentimes sides with her children even if Jane is right. For example, in the incident with John Reed, Jane is reading a book about birds and secretly wants to be able to fly away from all of the bad things at Gateshead. When John condemns Jane for reading "his" books, Mrs. Reed sends Jane to the Red Room even though Jane did not initiate the fight. The torturous experience for Jane becomes a type of containment in which she must obey her aunt and cousins, as a slave would obey his master. Jane feels then that she must resist everyone, Bessie, Miss Abbot, her cousins, and especially her aunt. She is urged by these same people to pray and repent and is locked yet again in an eerie room. Jane encounters another character, Mr. Lloyd, who attempts to degrade her by making fun of her for crying. Her physical containments, along with her mental ones, are coming to her one after another and take her to her limit. Jane deals with many emotions she fee... ... middle of paper ... ...rlotte Bronte. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1990. Jane Eyre. Dir. Franco Zeffirelli. Perf. William Hurt, Charlotte Gainsborough, and Anna Paquin. 1996 Jane Eyre. Dir. Julian Aymes. Perf. Timothy Dalton, Zelah Clarke. 1983 Kadish, Doris. The Literature of Images: Narrative Landscape from Julie to Jane Eyre. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1986. Linder, Cynthia A. Romantic Imagery in the Novels of Charlotte Bronte. London: MacMillan, 1978. McLaughlin, M.B. "Past or Future Mindscapes: Pictures in Jane Eyre." Victorian Newsletter 41 (1972): 22-24. Peters, Joan D. “Finding a Voice: Towards a Woman’s Discourse in Dialogue in the Narration of Jane Eyre.” Studies in the Novel. 23 no 2. (1991): 217-36. Zonana, Joyce. “The Sultan and the Slave: Feminist Orientalism and the Structure of Jane Eyre.” Signs. 18 no 3. (1993): 592-617
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