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Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte not only traces Jane's development as an independent individual, but it can also be read as a description of her personal journey in finding a family through the five settings in the novel. From beginning to end Jane engages with an array of nurturing, maternal women whom model a family for her, but also encounters those who torment her and bring her great suffering. In reading this novel, we’re not only able to trace Jane’s development as an individual, but can also see the book as her journey in search for family, for a sense of belonging, and for a home.

The story begins with introducing the unloved, ten-year old orphan named Jane Eyre, who lives in a mansion entitled Gateshead, with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, and several cousins. Her parents had passed away long before this time, leaving the Reed’s to be her only family to abide with. Mrs. Reed was cruel and resented Jane because she claimed her late husband, whom Jane dearly missed, had always loved Jane more than his own children. Jane’s three young cousins living at Gateshead were spoiled and obnoxious figures that had just as much antipathy as Mrs. Reed did towards her. She feared her cousin John especially, for he was quite verbally and physically abusive towards Jane’s frail character. This image of family Jane received from the Reed family at Gateshead was not a positive one in any sense. Although she does not receive any parental love from Mrs. Reed, Jane finds one maternal figure at Gateshead, named Bessie Lee. Bessie was the only figure in Jane’s childhood who regularly treated her kindly. When Jane experience traumatic and violating times at Gateshead, such as the incident in the red-room, Bessie was the one who calmed Jane. She also taugh...

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..., after her long search for a true family, Jane comes to find the family living at the Moor house to be her own relatives. She meets her two cousins, Diana and Mary Rivers, and also engages with her male cousin by the name of St. John. Independent and unmarried, the Rivers sisters recite poetry, love learning and live intellectually equal to St. John. As Jane befriends the Rivers girls, St. John remains cold and distant. Later when Jane has moved out to work in Morton, St. John comes to visit her. He explains to her that God had called him to become a missionary, and he asks Jane to come to India to work with him. (ch. 34-35) St. John soon shows feelings towards Jane, and he asks her to move to and alike her experiences with Mr. Rochester, denies St. John's marriage proposal, as it would be one of duty, not of passion for the both of them.

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Jane Eyre
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