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Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 799
  • Category: Eyre

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Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” is not a novel which is characterized by any one genre. It is a hybrid of an autobiography embedded in a nineteenth century Victorian romantic melodrama and enriched by a Gothic essence. ‘Jane Eyre” tells the story of a young woman’s internal development as she travels along the journey of self-fulfillment and a quest of love and acceptance. Although Jane is plain, she is strong and assertive, and her continuous struggle for a balance between the forces of Love and Autonomy predominate throughout the novel.

Lowood is the first institution where Jane’s thirst for love is partially quenched when she gains two friends – Helen burns and Ms. Temple – who readily accept her despite whatever class status or personal characteristics she possesses. In chapter 8, Jane confesses to Helen “if others don’t like me, I would rather die than live – I cannot bear to be solitary and hated. ” From this we can align what will be Jane’s ever-present requirement for human warmth and affection throughout the novel.

Upon her acquaintance with Mr. Rochester at Thornfield Hall, Jane’s wish fulfillment of love is incorporated into an intense, fiery passion which transforms the novel into a romantic melodrama. Bronte uses several symbols in intrinsically highlighting the romance genre of the novel. Fire is used to represent the burning passion that exists between Jane and Rochester ‘flaming glance; blackness, burning! Not a human could ever wish to be loved more than I was loved… “Jane’s and Rochester’s love fro each other is a magical, sensual, energy-driven ball of fire.

Jane’s wish-fulfillment finally becomes more than a mere imaginable fantasy and is transformed into a reality when she finds a brother and two sisters to love – to her having a family is “wealth indeed! – wealth to the heart! – a mine of pure, genial affections. ” Jane’s later marriage to Rochester encloses the cycle of romantic fervor and further adds to her wish-fulfillment. The novel is a division of five settings – Gateshead Hall, Lowood School, Thornfield Mansion, Moor house and Fearndean Manor – each of which plays a critical role in the development of the protagonist and the novel as a whole.

Bronte uses several themes and criticisms in achieving these developments and highlighting various genres of the novel. Bronte’s narrative challenges the existent social preconceptions of the era in which it was set. Consistent repression is made of the conventions relating social class, gender relations and the institutions of marriage and inheritance. From the novel begins, the reader sees Jane as a “poor orphan dependant”; isolated, oppressed and subjugated; who lives with her wealthy and uninviting cousins and Aunt Reed.

Jane is despised because of her low social status; john Reed tells her: “you are a dependant, mama say; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg and not live here with gentleman’s children like us… ” Through Jane, Bronte represses social class relationships as Jane rebels against John’s; she calls him a “slave-master,” a “Roman Emperor’ and a “murderer”. This reflects how corruptly poor people were treated and highlights the fact that power was gained unfairly – not based on authority / respect but by wealth.

After Jane leaves Lowood, she has a much higher standard of education than the Reeds siblings, but still, they retain a higher social position in society because of their dignified, prestigious family background and wealthy inheritance. It is this very social convention that, in turn, lends to the criticism of the institution of marriage in the novel. In the society in which Jane Eyre was set, interclass marriages were repressed and it was mostly the poor who married for love. Jane’s mother was shunned by her wealthy family for marrying to a poor clergyman (Jane’s father).

In addition, Jane also represses the social convention of marriage by contemplating Rochester’s intention to marry Blanche Ingram. Love is not the core of marriages for those of a higher social status (such as Rochester). It is usually for political reasons, establishing alliances and for securing fortunes. Bronte also uses the character St. John, to represent a different critical view towards the inherently oppressive nature of marriage. St. John seeks Jane as a wife, not for love, but for ‘enlisting’ her in his “warrior-march”.

He refers to a wife as being “the sole helpmeet I can influence in life, and retain absolutely till death. ” Bronte’s criticism of this view of marriage is reflected through Jane – she refuses to be St. John’s “missionary’s wife” as she would become an “always restrained; part of him”; continually ‘ forced to keep the fire… low, compel it to burn inwardly and never utter a cry… ” Jane realizes that “this would be unendurable” and tells St. John that she “scorns’ his “idea of love”.

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