In this work there will be analyzed Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. The book, acritique of social Victorian assumptions about gender and social class, became one of the most succeccful novels of its era, both critically and commercially. The structure of this work is as follows:
– The period of Realism (it’s reflection in Jane Eyre)
– Autobiography of Charlotte Bronte.
– Autobiographical elements in Jane Eyre.
– Characteristic of major characters (Jane Eyre, Edward Rochester, St. John Rivers).
– Short characteristic of minor characters.
– Jane Eyre’s life in two different worlds, her quest for love and independence.
– Religion in Jane Eyre.
– Social class in Jane Eyre.
– Gender relations in Jane Eyre.
– Symbols, metaphors, language in Jane Eyre.
– Consideration about Charlotte Bronte and her work.
– Final conclusion.
The early 19th century was marked by great economic and political changes<…>. The growth of realism was stimulated by a necessity to concentrate attention on the fate on common man and the faithful portrayal of life with all the evils of the cruel industrial system. The realistic novel became the most important and popular genre. The great realists of England devoted their genius to striking at various social evils. In their descriptions of the helplessness of the common man and bad conditions of the masses they posed the burning problems of poverty, crime, child labor, the system of education, the fate of the young man and artist, the position of women and many others.(G.Kirvaitis, A.Šurnaitė, English Literature, 1999).
So one of the greatest English realists was Charlotte Bronte. She wrote the first English novel about woman’s need to be independent and free in thoughts and feelings. Her novel
Jane Eyre showed that it was possible for a woman in the nineteenth century to achieve independence and success on her own, no matter what odds were against her.
During the 1800’s was the period in which Jane Eyre was written and the setting of the novel, women were stereotyped as being submissive, dependent, beautiful, but ignorant. They were seen as trophies, meant to cling to the arms of men, but never meant to develop a mind of their own or to venture out on their own. This stereotype proved difficult for women to be taken seriously.
Bronte was probably dissatisfied with this interpretation of sex and she attempted to change it by creating a heroine who possessed the antithesis of these traits. Indeed, Jane may be a plain woman, but she is an intelligent one; she is also self-confident, strong-willed, and morally conscious. She not only trusts in her ability to make decisions, but also in her freedom to do so. Such traits will be necessary to guide her in her journey to self-fulfillment.
Jane Eyre proved to the world of the 1800’s that the idea of a woman beating the odds to become independent and successful on her own was not as far-fetched as it may have seemed. Jane goes against the expected type by “refusing subservience, disagreeing with her superiors, standing up for their rights, and venturing creative thoughts” (McFadden-Gerber 3290). With such determination, she is able to emerge victorious over all that has threatened to stand in her way. She is not only successful in terms of wealth and position, but more importantly, in terms of family and love. These two needs, which have evaded Jane for so long are finally hers; adding to her victory is her ability to enjoy both without losing her hard-won independence. As Jane was a role model for woman in the nineteenth century, she is also a role model for woman today. Her legacy on in the belief that as long as there are hopes and dreams, nothing is impossible (the Internet).
Charlotte Bronte was one of the six children of the curate of Haworth, Yorkshire. After her mother’s death she and her sisters were sent to a boarding school. The constant hunger and cold from which the children suffered there hastened the death of tuberculosis of Charlotte’s two elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth. Charlotte and Emily returned home and were taught by their father for some time. His wit amused them and his intelligence stimulated their aspiration.
Like the most homes of those times, the discipline was strict for girls at Haworth. They were to do needle-work, play the piano, and take part in housekeeping. The latter was considered to be women’s main duty. Charlotte and Emily read such literature as the parsonage afforded (chiefly standard poets and historians) or what the circulating library offered. Most of the contemporary authors, with the exception of Byron, were unavailable to the Bronte children. Byron, with whose works Charlotte was fully acquainted by the time she was thirteen, and later on Thackeray became her best admired writers.
In 1831-32 Emily and Charlotte were sent to another boarding-school. Two of Charlotte’s former friends later remembered her “extraordinary sense of duty”. Both recalled how conscientiously she studied at school, never playing with the other children, ever mindful of the expense of education. Her aim was to become governess, a job she dreaded but was ready to do so that she could earn her living and help others. On leaving the school with the teacher’s license she worked as governess. In 1842 she went with her sister Emily to study French in Brussels and to teach English at a school.
Back at Haworth, the
two sisters intended to open a school but could find no students. In 1846 a volume of verse written by Charlotte, Emily and Anne under the pen-name of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell appeared. It was received coldly and they turned to novel-writing to become famous. Anne Bronte told the story of a governess in Agnes Grey and described the Yorkshire moors in her second and last novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights depicted a man’s tragedy caused by his unhappy childhood. (G. Kirvaitis, A.Šurnaite, English Literature 1999, 164-165psl.).
Autobiographical elements are recognizable throughout Jane Eyre. Jane’s experience at Lowood School, where her dearest friends dies of tuberculosis, recalls the death of Charlotte’s sisters at Cowan Bridge. The hypocritical religious fervor of the headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, is based in part on that of the Reverend Carus Wilson, The Evangelical minister who ran Cowan Bridge. Charlotte took revenge upon the school that treated her so poorly by using it as the basis for the fictional Lowood. Jane’s friend Helen Burn’s tragic death from tuberculosis recalls the deaths of two of Charlotte’s sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, who succumbed to the same disease during their time at Cowan Bridge. Additionally, John Reed’s decline into alcoholism and dissolution is most likely modeled upon the life of Charlotte Bronte’s brother Barnwell, who slid into opium and alcohol addictions in the years preceding his death. Finally, Charlotte becomes a governess – a comparatively neutral vantage point from which to observe and describe the oppressive social ideas and practices of nineteenth-century Victorian society (the Internet)
After the success of Jane Eyre, Charlotte revealed her identity to her publisher and went on to write several other novels, most notably Shirley in 1849. In the years that followed, she became a respected member of London’s literary set. But the deaths of siblings Emily and Brandwell in 1948, and of Anne in1949, left her feeling dejected and emotionally isolated. In 1954, she wed the Reverend Arthur Nicholls, despite the fact that she did not love him. She died of pneumonia, while pregnant, the following year (the Internet).
Imagine a girl growing up around the turn of the nineteenth century. An orphan, she has no family or friends, no wealth or position. Misunderstood and mistreated by the relatives she does have, she is sent away to school where the cycle of cruelty continues. All alone in the world, she is doomed to a life or failure. What’s a girl to do? Does she stand passively by and accept her fate, as the common belief of the times would have it? Or does she stand up for the rights and fight for the life of success she deserves? If the girl is Charlotte Bronte’s heroine Jane Eyre, she takes the latter route. Although this may have shocked readers of the time, Jane’s actions would open the door for a new interpretation of women.
Jane Eyre, born poor and plain looking, gained love, family, and fortune without sacrificing her principles. This is her story. Orphaned at a very young age she was sent to live with her uncle, who dies shortly after her arrival. Her cruel wealthy step-aunt Mrs. Reed despised her and made her first ten years barren of kindness and love. A servant named Bessie provided Jane with the few kindness she received, telling the stories and singing songs to her. One day, as a punishment for fighting with her bullying cousin John Reed, Jane’s aunt imprisoned Jane in the red-room. It was the room in which her uncle Reed died. While locked in, Jane believed that she sees her uncle’s ghost. She began screaming and fainting. She woke to find herself in the care of Bessie and a doctor Mr. Lloyd, who suggested to Mrs. Reed that Jane should be sent away to school. So Mrs. Reed send her to Lowood School so that she become a governess. She was not unhappy there yet she was not happy either. She won the friendship of everyone there, but her life was difficult because conditions were poor at the school. The school’s headmaster was Mr. Brocklehurst, a cruel and hypocritical man. Mr. Brocklehurst’s stingy ways resulted in the death of many of students, including Jane’s best friend, Helen Burns, because a massive typhus epidemic swept Lowood. He preached a doctrine of poverty and privation to his students while using the school’s funds to provide a wealthy and opulent lifestyles for his own family. The epidemic also resulted in the departure of Mr. Brocklehurst by attracting attention to the poor conditions at Lowood. After a group of more sympathetic gentlemen took Brocklehurst’s place, Jane’s life improved dramatically.
Jane completed her education, by spending eight more years there, six as a student and two as a teacher. Jane advertised in the newspaper and found a position at Thornfield Hall. There she obtained a position as governess. Then Mr. Rochester came into her life. Through him she experienced feelings she has never felt before: playfulness, love and even jealousy. Jane’s student was Adele Varens, loving child of the master of the house Edward Rochester, who was a dark, impassioned man. Jane found herself falling secretary in love with him. Rochester was rarely at home and Jane spend most of her time with Adele and the housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax.
When Rochester did come home, he was often moody and
Mr. Rochester made Jane jealous by pretending to love Miss Ingram. What she did know that Edward Rochester already had a wife. He never loved her, and when she succumbed by madness, he hated her. He was quite justified with his opinion.
One night, Jane woke to strange noises and the smell of smoke. Bertha, Rochester’s wife, had set his room on fire, and bit and stabbed her own brother, Richard. The Fault lay in Grace Pool, who was not the most attractive woman in the world especially when she got drunk. Jane found Rochester unconscious in his bed. Other odd things happened in the house also. Jane often heard strange laughter and thuds. She realized that she loves Rochester, but she was proud of herself and refused to confess it. Edward has not informed Jane about Bertha because he was afraid that she would be repulsed by it and refuse to marry him.
One day Rochester invited a group of friends to the house, including Blanche Ingram whom he was expected to marry. Jane, who sank into despondency, was treated as servant by the guests. Jane expected Rochester to propose to Blanche, but Rochester instead proposes to Jane. One of the guests, Mr. Macon, was mysteriously injured. Jane was also troubled when her former guardian, Mrs. Reed, called her to her death bed. She admitted that several years earlier she had received a letter from one of Jane’s distant relatives, John Eyre, a man who lived in Jamaica. Then Mrs. Reed told to John Eyre that Jane had died in the typhus epidemic.
When Jane returned from this visit, Rochester asked her to marry him and Jane joyfully assented. The night before their wedding, she woke to find someone in her room, wearing her wedding veil. She screamed and ran, but Rochester convinced her it was her imagination. At the
wedding, a man interrupted the service, saying Rochester was already married. Rochester admitted it and took the wedding party to the attic. His wife is a Creole, Bertha Manson, who went mad immediately after their wedding fifteen years before. Now she was imprisoned in the attic.
Then Jane decided she must run away. Jane, no matters how much she loved him and longed to stay with him, knew that it was morally wrong. Penniless, she becomes a beggar and was forced to sleep outdoors and beg for food. She arrived at a little town destitute, having lost her money and goods At last, three siblings who live in a manor alternatively called Marsh End and Moor House took her in. Their names were Mary, Diana, and St. John Rivers and Jane quickly became friends with them. The family Rivers was an old and distinguished one. Their father, however, lost the family fortune, and left them poor. St. John was a minister with a goal of going to India. The girls were working as governess in wealthy families. Jane, not wanting to be dependent on them, asked St. John to find her a job. He found her a position as a school mistress at the village where he preached.
There she became acquainted with Rosemond Oliver. She was beautiful, rich, and good-natured. Rosemond loved St. John, and vice versa, and her father approved of the match. What kept them from Holly Matrimony then? St. John wanted a missionary’s wife and Rosemond was not it. So St. John stayed aloof from her, and Rosemond feeling rejected, married someone else. Something of equal importance happed on that small village. Jane’s fore mentioned uncle died and bequeathed everything to her. Jane knew nothing of this. St. John, however, knew that the missing heiress named “Jane Eyre”. And it is really only by accident that she learned simultaneously that John Eyre has died and left her his fortune of 20,000 pounds and that Rivers were her cousins. They shared the fortune into 4 equal parts. St. John decided to travel to India as a missionary and he urged Jane to accompany him – as a wife. Rivers pressed her to marry him and join him. He admitted that she did not love her, but he thought that Jane was smart and useful. Jane felt she must do her duty, but she did not want to marry Rivers.
However, Jane realized that she could not abandon forever the man she truly loves. And this is the climax of the novel. One night Jane hears Rochester’s voice calling to her. She returned to Thornfield and what she found there shocked her. The house was burned to the ground. She heard the horrible tale from an ex-servant. He told her that the place had burned down when Bertha set Jane’s former bed on fire. Then she went onto the roof and jumped to her death Rochester became blinded in his unsuccessful attempt to save her life. Jane was glad that he was still alive and went to him. Edward was extremely happy to see her and asked to marry him again. Jane and Rochester marry. This is the denouement of the novel. He regained limited sight in one eye and was able to see their son born. Diana and Marry both married for love and are happy. St. John went to India without Jane and never married, because he succumbed to illness and was going to die. At the end of the story Jane writes that she has been married for ten blissful years and that she and Rochester enjoy perfect equality in their life together.
Jane Eyre – is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. She is an intelligent, honest, plain-featured young girl. Jane has to contend with oppression, inequality and hardship. She meets with the series of individuals who tried to threaten her autonomy, but she didn’t give in asserting herself
maintains her principles of justice, human dignity and morality. Her strong belief in gender and social equality challenges the Victorian prejudices against women and the poor. The development of Jane Eyre’s character is central to the novel. She possesses a sense of her self-worth and dignity, also a trust in God and a passionate disposition. Jane must learn to balance the conflicting aspects of herself so as to find contentment.
An orphan since early childhood, Jane feels the cruel treatment, which she receives from her aunt Reed and her cousins. Afraid that she will never find a true sense of home and community, she feels the need to belong somewhere. In her search of freedom, Jane also struggles with the question
of what type of freedom she wants. While Rochester offers Jane a chance to liberate her passions, Jane realizes that such freedom could also mean enslavement – by living as Rochester’s mistress. Rochester also offers another type of freedom. That means the freedom to act unreservedly on her
principles. St. John Rivers opens her a possibility of exercising her talents working and living with him in India. Jane realizes again that this kind of freedom would also constitute a form of imprisonment, because she would be forced to keep her true feelings. In my opinion, Jane’s character and her behavior is really very rare, but strong and undefeatable. She knows her principles and keeps them from the very beginning till the very end.
Charlotte Bronte may have created the character of Jane Eyre as a means of coming to terms with the elements of her own life. Much evidence suggests that Bronte, too, struggled to find a balance between love and freedom and to find others who understood her. At many points in the book, Jane voices the author’s then-radical opinions on religion, social class, and gender (the Internet).Edward Rochester – is the antagonist of the story. He is Jane’s employer and the master of Thornfield. He is a wealthy and passionate man with a dark secret. And this secret provides much of the novels suspense. He is even ready to set aside his polite manners and consideration of a social class in order to interact with Jane frankly and directly. He is rash and impetuous and has spent much of his adult life roaming about Europe. His problems are partly the result of his own recklessness. I think he is a sympathetic figure who has suffered for so long as a result of his early marriage. But despite his stern manner and not particularly handsome appearance, he wins Jane’s heart. Jane feels that they are kindred spirits, and because Rochester is the first person in the novel offering her lasting love and a real home. In my opinion Jane and Rochester are intellectual equal, although Rochester is Jane’s social and economic superior, and although the men were widely considered to be naturally superior to women in Victorian period. Their marriage is interrupted by the disclosure that Edward Rochester is already married to Bertha Manson. Then Jane is proven to be Rochester’s moral superior. Rochester really has proven himself that he was in many ways weaker than Jane. Jane feels that living with Rochester as his mistress would mean the loss of her dignity. Then I think she would be degraded and dependent upon Rochester for love. Jane will only enter into marriage with Rochester after she is not influenced under her own poverty, loneliness and psychological vulnerability or passion.