The Bildungsroman, a novel that details the growth and development of a main character through several periods of life, began as a German genre in the seventeenth century, but by the mid eighteen hundreds it had become firmly established in England as well. Such important Victorian novels as Great Expectations, base themselves on this form, which continues as an important literary sub-genre even today. The Bildungsroman typically told the story of a man growing from boyhood to adulthood. Charlotte Brontë's appropriation of the form for her heroine, represents one of the many ways in which her novel, Jane Eyre, challenges the accepted Victorian conceptions of gender hierarchy, making the statement that a woman's inner development merits as much attention and analysis as that of a man. Through a careful reading of Chapter one, this essay will attempt to suggest ways in which, in the light of my understanding of the novel; key themes and issues are signalled at the novel's outset.
The novel opens on a dreary November afternoon at Gateshead, the home of the wealthy Reed family. A young girl, Jane Eyre sits in the drawing room reading Bewick's History of British Birds. Jane's aunt, Mrs Reed, has forbidden her niece to play with her cousins Eliza, Georgiana, and the bullying John. John Reed goes looking for Jane and finds her sitting at the window seat. He sits himself in an armchair and gestures for Jane to come and stand before him. He starts chiding Jane for being a lowly orphan who is only permitted to live with the Reeds because of his mother's charity. After asking Jane what she was doing and reminding her that she is not allowed to read his books, he ...
... middle of paper ...
The development of Jane Eyre's character is central to the novel and this is seen from chapter one. Jane possesses a sense of her self-worth and dignity, a commitment to justice and principle, a trust in God, and a passionate disposition. From a young girl, as I have shown in chapter one, she is forced to contend with oppression, inequality, and hardship. Although she meets with a series of individuals who threaten her autonomy, Jane repeatedly succeeds at asserting herself and maintains her principles of justice, human dignity, and morality.
1. Brontë, C. Jane Eyre. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1992.
2. Campbell, S. Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre. London: Penguin Books, 1988.
3. Gregor, I. The Brontë's: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc, Englewood Cliffs, 1970.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Throughout history the idea of the hero or heroine has changed, but some common attributes remain. The hero claims Bill Butler: “is an archetypal figure, a paradigm who bears the possibilities of life, courage, love – the indefinable’s which themselves define our human lives” . In his seminal work The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell states that the hero: “a personage of exceptional gifts” is “the man or woman who has been able to battle past his personal and local historical limitations to the generally valid, normally human forms” .... [tags: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte]
1749 words (5 pages)
- Every human being in this world needs to be truly loved in order to be successful and happy in life. In the same way, in Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte wants to show us that within imperfections, Jane and Rochester has achieved true love because they have mutual respect and understanding for each other, Rochester values love more than work and money and it doesn 't bother him that Jane comes from a different background. In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte uses the relationship between Jane and Rochester to show us that within male dominance, which was very present in the Victorian era, they both succeeded in showing kindness and appreciation to each other.... [tags: Love, Marriage, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë]
1119 words (3.2 pages)
- Masculinity in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre Throughout the novel 'Jane Eyre' we meet 5 male characters. Immediately we can notice that the number of female characters outweighs the number of male characters. It feels as though BrontÃ« is trying to tell us that overall women will come out more influential and powerful than men. Indeed power is what our male characters have in common. Their power however alters from character to character. This is the common version of masculinity portrayed by Bront throughout 'Jane Eyre'.... [tags: Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre Essays]
1120 words (3.2 pages)
- Roman Allusions in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre The references to Roman figures in Jane Eyre are few but very effective. Charlotte Bronte uses allusions to Nero, Caligula, and Messalina that on the surface appear to be quite simple. However, with further investigation and analysis, it is very clear these simple references are anything but. The first Roman allusion occurs in chapter one in reference to John Reed. Comparing him to Nero and Caligula serves many functions. First, it illustrates just how cruel he is in the eyes of Jane.... [tags: Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre]
1916 words (5.5 pages)
- Jane Eyre is a very strong character, true feminist whose behaviour and believes are only based on social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. She advocates equal rights for herself, therefore suffered a lot of hardships in her life. She contains a very strong feminist stance; and explores the dept at which she may act in the society to figure out her boundaries in a Victorian society. She embodies passion and does what is right for her. She is a very independent woman who is educated when women are under the authority of men.... [tags: Charlotte Bronte, Feminism, Character Analysi]
1662 words (4.7 pages)
- The Oppressed Female in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë clearly demonstrates the relationship between sexuality and morality in Victorian society through the character of Bertha Mason, the daughter of a West Indian planter and Rochester's first wife. Rochester recklessly married Bertha in his youth, and when it was discovered shortly after the marriage that Bertha was sexually promiscuous, Rochester locked her away. Bertha is called a "maniac" and is characterized as insane.... [tags: Jane Eyre Essays]
899 words (2.6 pages)
- Gender Role Limitations in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre The nineteenth century Victorian era woman needed wealth or position to avoid a life of drudgery. Women were viewed as trophies or possessions men owned. They were not permitted to develop nor expected to, and even venturing out on their own was considered inappropriate. During the era in which Jane Eyre was published the home and family were seen as the basic unit of stability in society. At the middle of this foundation stood a wife and mother representing the sum total of all morality - a Madonna-like image. This image was reinforced by social institutions such as mainstream religious and political beliefs. Women were steered... [tags: Jane Eyre Essays]
957 words (2.7 pages)
- Radical Ideas in Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte knew what she was doing when she assumed the pseudonym of Currer Bell. In Jane Eyre she wanted to pose radical ideas regarding the role of women in the 19th century, but being a sensible woman, she knew that society would never accept having a woman pose these new views. It would be altogether too logical and self-praising. Though the author was never credited for the published novel it must have been equally fulfilling for her to know that people had read the opinions voiced by a woman.... [tags: Jane Eyre Essays]
1935 words (5.5 pages)
- Techniques Bronte Uses to Evoke Sympathy from the Reader in Jane Eyre The essay looks at ways and especially the people that evoke sympathy for the reader in Jane Eyre’s younger life. Bronte uses many ways to provoke the reader’s empathy and compassion. People and techniques used to do this, are shown in the following. Sympathy is evoked in the reader through Mrs Reed. Although we are given no details on Jane’s childhood before she comes into Mrs Reeds care, we may presume it was a happy one. The contrast is shown when Mrs Reed kept and held Jane separately from her own children.... [tags: Jane Eyre Sympathy Charlotte Bronte Essays]
869 words (2.5 pages)
- Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre – A Story of One Abused Child According to Alexandria’s daily newspaper, The Town Talk, approximately 34,910 cases of suspected child abuse were reported in Louisiana alone last year (Crooks). Charlotte Bronte tells of one victim of child abuse in her novel Jane Eyre. In Jane Eyre, Bronte chronicles the life of Jane, a notoriously plain female in want of love. After being abused, Jane portrays many characteristics which other victims of abuse often portray. Throughout the novel, Jane is reclusive, pessimistic, and self-deprecating.... [tags: Jane Eyre Essays]
3617 words (10.3 pages)