Sympathy for the Character in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

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In Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’, Jane instantly manages to make the reader empathise with her character. The way in which Brontë evokes this sympathy is by using a number of different methods: characterisation, the way in which the hierarchy of the characters is displayed, both physically and metaphorically; intricate choice of language, for example romanticising certain parts of the book to show intimacy between the characters and the reader; setting is also used to create sympathy for example the use of pathetic fallacy, is manipulated in conjunction with Jane’s mood or significance; narrative voices and the use of first person views throughout the entire book, create a negative semantic field, making the reader empathise with Jane.

The predominantly negative language used by Brontë, was designed to create sympathy for Jane. This negative semantic field shows the reader how Jane’s prospects are aligned with her environment. With the entire book written in an autobiographical form, the story has a truthful tone and Jane is then portrayed as a very austere character and the retrospective style enables the reader to relate to Jane’s experiences with the benefit of hindsight. Some language, for example, has a negative semantic field and has been romanticized by Brontë like the “half comprehended notions that float dim through children’s brains”. This quote invites real intimacy between the characters thoughts and the reader’s opinion of Jane. It reminds us that, even though Jane appears to be so mature, due to the retrospective approach of Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’, she still sees herself as very much a child and at this stage is optimistic to become older. This quality in Jane’s character evokes sympathy as Jane is seen here to be...

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...ectly and shows Jane as quite a believable narrative voice. It shows us that she is impatient to move on “but this is not to be a regular autobiography” this shows not only impatience but eagerness to tell the reader the rest of her story.

This novel is effectively that of a bildungsroman. We can see the protagonist’s growth from a child to an adult and Jane’s development throughout. It is referred to as an ‘autobiography’, but Jane states that “this is not to be a regular autobiography”, going back to Jane’s eagerness to continue with her story.

We can see that Brontë’ uses a number and variety of different techniques, forms, structures and language choices to evoke sympathy for Jane in the first ten chapters of the novel. The negative semantic field and language used maintain sympathy for Jane and enable the reader to relate to her experiences throughout.

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