Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

"Jane Eyre" was written by Charlotte Bronte in Victorian England. The
novel was published in 1847, under the male name of Currer Bell.
Bronte was forced to take a male name to be taken seriously as a
professional author. This gives us an idea of the position of women in
the past and relates to "Jane Eyre" in which Jane, the protagonist has
to struggle through life. Her life is made difficult because of the
fact that she s a female but also because she is a poor orphan living
in a rich house, where even the servants look down on her. A persons
social status was of massive importance back then and Bronte expresses
this in the novel. Another example is that Jane's only job is a
governess, which is a hard job to find and was low paid. Many women
faced problems like these as they were seen as inferior to men Unless
women were wealthy they would have a struggle to find work as there
were only few jobs that women could do.

Bronte wants the reader to sympathise with Jane from the start of the
novel. We know this because of the first person narrative, which makes
us engage with the character. "Jane Eyre" is a very gothic novel and
is autobiographical of Bronte's life; it has five distinct stages of
Jane's life, so therefore "Jane Eyre" is an example of a
Bildungsroman. Bronte tries to show how hard life was for women in the
19th century.

The novel begins with Jane describing the weather "…cold winter
wind…rain so penetrating…" these cold icy images reflect Jane's
treatment by the Reeds, who have never showed her any warmth or love.
When Jane is reading a book, isolated away from her family, again
Bronte focuses very much on the weather again. This book is
metaphorical of Jane's life. It describes a "rock standing up alone
against a sea of billow" This quote is symbolic of Jane, battered but
alive. It also describes "bleak shores" also relating to Jane, she

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feels alone and like a misfit. The reader feels sympathetic towards
Jane straight away when they realise how isolated she really is from
her own family. Jane has never felt part of this family; she has
always been considered an outcast. "Eliza, John and Georgiana were now
clustered around their mama." These are the kinds of techniques often
used by Bronte the give sympathy to Jane.

Bronte uses metaphors and personification to portray how she feels and
how she is treated; John calls her a "bad animal!" Because we read the
novel from Jane's perspective this description manipulates us to feel
negative towards John while sympathy is once again felt for Jane.

The characters introduced in the first chapter include Jane, Mrs Reed,
her children and two servants. All of the characters help to show how
hard life was for Jane, and other females of lower class in the
Victorian era. Bronte aims to show the reader how difficult it was to
be lower class, people of a lower class were looked down on, and they
saw them as a waste of space. The lower class had no rights compared
to higher class. Although Jane lives in an extremely wealthy household
she is treated as thought she is lower than lower class, Mrs Reed
especially likes to make Jane feel like this.

Mrs Reed only looks after Jane for her dead husband; she despises her
and favours her own children. "She really must exclude me from
privileges only intended for content, happy little children." This
shows us that Mrs Reed has probably told Jane that she is a bad child
all her life and she is now unsure about how to b good. Even though
Jane is good and obedient and always has been she is very unhappy due
to her poor treatment.

John Reed; Jane's cousin bullies her repeatedly and he is never
punished for acting violently. Whereas when Jane finally retaliates
and stands up to his torment she is sent straight to the "Red room"
where her uncle "breathed his last". "Take her to the red room and
lock her away in there" These words show Mrs Reeds cruelty - she knows
she will be terrified in there so she insisted on punishing her so she
uses the opportunity to terrify her. In the red room there is a very
gothic element of writing shown, Bronte uses powerful adjectives to
create images of the types of things Jane would be going through,
these emphasise the contrast between the dark power of the room and
the innocence and powerlessness of Jane. The types of words and
phrases she uses are "…largest and stateliest chambers… massive
pillars… curtains of deep red… crimson cloth… deep surroundings shade
rose high, and glared white…" All of these phrases give the reader a
good picture of the kind of fear Jane would be experiencing in the red
room. Jane later scares herself with her thoughts of a ghostly
presence so much that she has a fit and falls ill. "Mr. Reed had been
dead nine years: it was in this chamber he breathed his last…I thought
the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another
world…I suppose I had a species of fit…"

Other important characters in the opening of the novel include the
servants. Bessie was the first person to give Jane any comfort in her
life, and even then she would not show affection to Jane in front of
the Reeds. Jane is seen as lower down than even the servants, although
a servant was more or less the lowest class there was!" No; you are
less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep" this is
implying that she has no right to be in the Reeds house, when she is
really close family and should be treated like a part of the family.
Bronte describes Jane as being stuck between the two classes
throughout the novel. These characters are used well to help us
understand the treatment of women and especially the low class.

"Jane Eyre" is written in first person, which gives us her perspective
and helps us to understand Jane's feelings and therefore we will
sympathise with her.

Jane describes the Reed family to instantly turn us against them and
further our relationship with Jane. John Reed is targeted especially,
Jane describes him as "large and stout…unwholesome…flabby cheeks…" his
ugly appearance reflects hid evil nature. Jane obviously has no
positive thoughts for him, which influences our perspective of him. We
are also turned against Mrs. Reed when Jane describes how she treats
her so badly compared to her own children, "…and with her darlings
about her…me, she had dispensed from joining the group…" Her sarcastic
tone shows her independence. Because Jane is speaking in first person
we take her side and therefore we dislike Mrs. Reed. Jane's first
words in the novel are, "what does Bessie say I have done?" we
straight away have the idea of what kind of character she is, strong
and rebellious as she firstly answers back to an adults and secondly
implies Bessie is lying. This behaviour was unheard of in the
Victorian era and Mrs. Reed would not let her get away with it. ""Be
seated somewhere; and remain silent." Due to the authors manipulation
of our perspective we feel sympathetic towards Jane, if Mrs. Reed was
the protagonist in this novel it is likely that we would be supportive
of her actions and dislike Jane as we do Mrs. Reed.


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