The Importance of Jane's Early Life at Lowood to Shaping Her Character in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

The Importance of Jane's Early Life at Lowood to Shaping Her Character in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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The Importance of Jane's Early Life at Lowood to Shaping Her Character in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

When Charlotte Brontë set out to write "Jane Eyre", she boldly
promised her sisters:

"a heroine as plain and as small as myself, who shall be as
interesting as any of yours."

As promised, Jane appears decidedly plain, "so little, so pale", with
"features so irregular and so marked", "sensible but not at all
handsome", "queer" and "a little toad".

The novel opens at Gateshead with Jane moving from childhood to
puberty. Even at ten years of age, Jane feels that "I can never get
away from Gateshead till I am a woman" and tells this to Mr Lloyd. She
actually leaves by the end of Chapter 4. Her becoming an adult is
marked by her revolt against the Reeds, which at this early age shows
a self-assertiveness, but one which gets her severely punished and
ostracised, but also wins her her freedom from the Reeds, first to the
red room and then on to Lowood School.

Lowood School represents repression and prolonged discipline. Here the
girls are "starved" - (in Yorkshire dialect this means frozen as well
as hungry) and deprived of all sensory awareness. They are all
uniformly dressed in stiff brown dresses which "gave an air of oddity
even to the prettiest" and shorn of their hair, the last sign of their
femininity. The girls of Lowood are instructed in the chastity they
will need for their future lives as poor teachers and governesses. Mr
Brocklehurst proclaims that his mission is "to mortify in these girls
the lusts of the flesh, to teach them to clothe themselves with
shamefacedness and sobriety".

Lowood disciplines its inmat...


... middle of paper ...


...od presents Jane with contrasting views of religious experience
(those of Brocklehurst and Helen Burns). She gained more of a
religious understanding from Helen than she did from Brocklehurst as
she could not put her faith in a hypocrite. However she could never
quite shake his persuasions e.g. her wedding attire.

The novel ends happily. Jane has proven her independence and has been
able to marry the man she loves. She has earned her happiness without
violating her integrity or her conscience and both her longing for
love and her self-fulfilment have been realised.


REFERENCES/ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Jane Eyre - Contemporary Critical Essays - Heather Glen 1997

Jane Eyre - York Notes for GCSE - York Press 2002

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë - Penguin Popular Classics

Internet Notes - www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/1994

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