Essay, Research Paper: Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte

Literature: Jane Eyre

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Jane Eyre would have only found bad, she now also finds good. Also, du The
novel, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte is a thought provoking book that deals
with the heroine, Jane, trying to break free of the social orders of the
nineteenth century, in order to free herself from the restraints of the
"class" system of the time and to free her heart from her inner self.
In order to express this theme, Bronte creates five places that represent the
emotion of her heart: Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Moor End and Ferndean. By
creating these five settings, Bronte leads us on a Journey, with Jane narrating,
away from the concrete situation into a world of symbolism. On this journey
Bronte uses Jane to show the proper relationship between private feelings and
moral order. Her struggle with this relationship is a searching process from
depth to even deeper depth in her own heart to reveal the nature of her ultimate
self (Weekes, 77). In order to finally win this struggle, she has to break
through the social restraints so that her buries heart can flower. The first
setting of Jane's heart that the reader comes to know is Gateshead. This place
is the estate of Jane's Aunt Reed, a lady who resents Jane because she has to
take care of her. Also, residing with Jane at the estate are her three very
indulged cousins, who pick on Jane even, resulting in physical violence:
"She lay reclined on a sofa by the fireside, and with her darlings about
her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me,
she had dispensed from the group" (Bronte, 1). This quote shows how unfair
and unhappy daily life was for Jane. Even the setting outside the house
reflected the mood: "The cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so
somber, and a rain so penetrating " (Bronte, 1). The cold represents the
frozen heartedness of the Reeds' and the wind represents the torrent of emotions
within the household (Weekes, 8). This reflection of the weather shows how
throughout the book, the settings symbolize Jane's predicaments. A devastating
part of her stay at Gateshead was when she was locked in the "Red
Room" for defending herself against an attack from he cousin, John. This
room was all red, and was supposedly haunted by the ghost of Mr. Reed. Jane
entered this room a quiet, placid girl, but she exited a defiant girl. As a
result of this defiance, Mrs. Reed got the excuse she was looking for to send
her away, so Jane was sent to live at Lowood. At Lowood, a corrupt Orphan home,
the setting of injustice that was seen at Gateshead takes place again, but this
time it is intensified with starvation, disease and humiliation. Ironically,
even though this new "home" was worse than the old one, this is the
time when Jane's heart starts its slow process of thawing out. At this school,
Jane was finally a part of a community, and one person in particular in this
community who helped change her life was Helen Burns (Weekes, 79): "While
disease had thus become an inhabitant of Lowood, and death its frequent visitor;
while there was gloom and fear within its walls; while its rooms and passages
steamed with hospital smells that bright May shone unclouded over the bold
hills and beautiful woodland out of doors" (Bronte, 69). This quote shows
how Jane's heart is starting to flower. In a situation where once she ring this
time another change began to develop within Jane's soul. She began to develop an
inner-conscience and a faith connected to God. This house is also the place
where a very important factor comes into play. Jane learns to paint. Painting is
one of the main symbols of Jane trying to break free from restraint (Weekes,
79). Her paintings, which were usually dark, show us that Jane's psyche is still
bleak and very much concerned with somber thoughts. This image, on first look,
leads us to believe that her heart is not free, but on closer analysis we see
that in order to express herself in this way, her heart must be opening up
enough to let emotion come through. The next setting that the reader finds Jane
in is Thornfield Hall. Thornfield Hall is not necessarily as much a metaphor for
Jane's heart as it is for Edward Rochester's heart. It is a representation for
the tropical half-life that he tried to escape, but can't get away from. Here,
at Thornfield, Jane goes to work as a governess for Rochester and now is when
Jane really starts to start her struggle to break free of the restraints of the
social classes, so that she can free her heart. This struggle begins when Jane
finds herself falling in love with her employer. Rochester is not a handsome
man, but Jane's eyes find beauty in him and she falls in love with him, and he
falls for her. Jane's feelings for Rochester are ambivalent. He draws her to him
with a strong fascination; yet she is repelled by his animalism and by the fact
that he locked his mad wife in the attic (Chase 23). "His changes of mood
did not offend me, because I saw that I had nothing to do with their alteration;
the ebb and flow depended on causes quite disconnected to me" (Bronte 120).
In this quote Jane is showing us once again how the moods go with the setting.
She is saying that she understands that he has a very wide range of moods and
that she is not the cause of them, but that some other force or being in the
house is the cause. Most of the Thornfield section of the book is a development
in Rochester while Jane's main development stage comes later at Moor Head. The
development in Rochester, during this section of the book, is his struggle to
defy what he sees as the meaningless restraints of society and to marry Jane
despite what others in his social "class" might think (Weekes 82).
After leaving Rochester and Thornfield Hall to escape the pressures of facing
the fact that she lost her heart to a married man, Jane goes to live at Moor
End. Moor End symbolizes sanctuary and duty (Chase 24). Here Jane doesn't have
to worry about competing to fit into the higher social class because everyone in
the village is poor. This setting is the only other place besides Lowood that
she was accepted as part of a community. Ironically what comes across is a
"sense of ultimately intolerable limitation; nowhere can be found a society
bound together by shared values, sustaining the individual in a system of
communal relationships" (Weekes 79). In order to be part of a society Jane
feels she must lower herself to teaching in a country schoolhouse because in her
mind she could never excel to social standards on the master-servant
relationship that she had with Rochester. Also, though, she can not accept the
dutiful life that St. John Rivers, from Moor End, proposes to her. Rivers wants
to marry Jane and take her away to another country, where he plans to do
missionary work. Jane realizes that the life of loveless "duty" is not
something she could be happy with, and though Moor End was a sanctuary that let
her rest her weary heart it could be one no longer. So when Jane hears a
subliminal call for that she believes has come from Rochester, she leaves St.
John to go find her love who she now knows contains her heart. Jane seeks
Rochester at his old home Thornfield Hall. Here she finds that the house has
been destroyed by fire, and Rochester lost his mad wife, Bertha, and his
eyesight while trying to save her. Finally, Rochester who before was not able to
completely separate himself this manor or his mad wife has been released from
this burden by some other force. Now his heart is finally released. Only Jane's
heart has yet to be unleashed from that innerself that keeps it hidden and this
act soon comes in the book. After finding the house in ruins, Jane seeks
Rochester at his other house Ferndean. This house is the final place of the
heart. Ferndean images a greenness, a new growth still possible for the
"shattered tree" (a reference to the tree split by lightning at
Thornfield) of their relationship (Weekes 85). At this refuge there is no
pressure from the social world. "I know no weariness of my Edward's
society: he knows none of mine, any more than we do of the pulsation of the
heart that beats in our separate bosom, consequently we are ever together"
(Bronte 431-432). Jane is saying in this quote that with her heart free and
Edward always by her side, she is finally free of social restraint. Jane Eyre is
a powerful book that uses five settings as metaphors for an individuals private
heart. In this book Puritan sentiment is exploited at its greatest with a touch
of Gothic undertones (Heilman 96). It is a cry from the "heart and of the
heart", a passionate book that works by involving the reader with the inner
development of its heroine and her struggle to overcome social restraint and to
free her heart from her innersole (Weekes 85). This book shows us how the heart
is private, even after breaking through society's convictions the heart should
still remain private, but not hidden, only to be shared with those a person
truly trusts or loves.
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