Charlotte Bronte's classic, Jane Eyre, is a "coming of age" story. The main character, Jane, travels from the innocence of childhood through the maturity of adulthood. During this journey, Jane goes through the battle of education vs. containment, where she attempts to learn about herself and about the world. She must constantly battle a containment of sorts, however, whether it be a true physical containment or a mental one. This battle of education vs. containment can be seen by following Jane through her different places of residence, including Gateshead Hall, Lowood Institution, Thornfield, Moor House and Morton, and Ferndean Manor, where she is, finally, fully educated and escapes the feeling of containment which she held throughout the novel.
The story begins as Jane lives with the Reed family in their home at Gateshead Hall. Here, the theme of education vs. containment develops immediately, as Jane is kept confined indoors on a cold winter day. The other children (Eliza, John, and Giorgiana) are "clustered round their mamma in the drawing-room" (Bronte: 39) being educated, as Jane had been excluded from the group. Jane tries to educate herself by reading from Berwick's History of British Birds, but once again, she is held back from her attempt at enlightenment by the abuse of John Reed, who castigates her and throws the heavy book at her. In anger, Jane cries out, "You are like a murderer - you are like a slave-driver - you are like the Roman emperors" (Bronte: 43). In this passage, Jane compares John Reed to a slave-driver because, like a slave-driver, he deprives Jane of her attempt at education and keeps her suppressed. Afterwards, Jane is blamed for the entire incident and...
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...ome of the modern woman, as she manages a perfect balance between both, the spiritual and the physical, which is what she really wanted in life.
Works Cited and Consulted
Beaty, Jerome. Misreading Jane Eyre. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1996.
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1991
Bronte, Charlotte. "Charlotte Bronte's Letters". New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1971.
Dowta, Dr. Allyson. Women and the Written Word. Trenton: Prentice Hall, 1992.
Fraser, Rebecca. The Brontes. 1st ed. New York: Crown Publishers, 1988.
Gates, Barbara Timm, ed. Critical Essays on Charlotte 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
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