From the onset of the novel, we see the world through the eyes of Jane; a strong character who wishes to overcome her birth rite as an orphan in Victorian times. From this viewpoint, we are able to trace how Jane progresses in her struggle for individuality, as well as for love. At Gateshead, it becomes apparent that Jane is terrifically self-willed and possessive of a fiery temper. An example of this is when Jane stands up to her aunt saying, “You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness, but I cannot live so: and you have no pity” (Bronte, 68). Here, Jane makes her first declaration of independence, contending that she will no longer be a secondary member in the Reed household.
At Lowood, Jane is repulsed by Mr. Blocklehurst and his “two-faced” character and coarseness. However, while at Lowood, Jane finds her first true friend in the form of Helen Burns, another student at the school. Helen teaches Jane of love in the form of religion. By means of instruction as well as by example, Helen is able to convey this message. When Jane is punished in front of the whole school, she tries to accept it as though it has some higher purpose. However, Jane still desires human affection and is deeply hurt when she is scorned. Jane goes as far as to say, “If others don’t love me, I would rather die than live.” Helen’s response, “You think too much of the love of human beings,” is a testament to her devout faith (Bronte, 101). When Helen is dying of Typhus later on in the story, she reminds Jane, “I believe: I have faith: I am going to God” (Bronte, 113). Jane is able to draw strength from Helen’s faith, ultimately making her (Jane) stronger.
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre – Confronting Repression, Achieving Progression
Jane Eyre: Confronting Repression, Achieving Progression
Jane Eyre tells the story of a woman progressing on the path of acceptance. Throughout her journey, Jane encounters many obstacles to her intelligence. Male dominance proves to be the biggest obstruction at each stop of Jane’s journey: Gateshead Hall, Lowood Institution, Thornfield Manor, Moor House, and Ferndean Manor. As she grows, though, Jane slowly learns how to understand and control repression.
Jane’s journey begins at Gateshead Hall. Mrs. Reed, Jane’s aunt and guardian, serves as the biased arbitrator of the rivalries that constantly occur between Jane and John Reed. John emerges as the dominant male figure at Gateshead. He insists that Jane concede to him and serve him at all times, threatening her with mental and physical abuse. Mrs. Reed condones John’s conduct and sees him as the victim. Jane’s rebellion against Mrs. Reed represents a realization that she does not deserve the unjust treatment. Jane refuses to be treated as a subordinate and finally speaks out against her oppressors. Her reactions to Mrs. Reed’s hate appear raw and uncensored, and foreshadow possible future responses to restraints. This rebellion also initiates the next phase of her journey.
Lowood Institution represents the next step in Jane’s progression. Her obstacle here appears in the form of Mr. Brocklehurst, the operator of the “respectable” institution. He made his first appearance at Gateshead Hall in order to examine Jane and verify her evil qualities (according to Mrs. Reed). At Lowood, Mr. Brocklehurst exemplifies the perfect hypocrite. He constantly preached for the denial of “luxury and indulgence” (p.95), though his values conflict with these ideas. His wife and daughters personify the meanings of luxury and indulgence in that “they were splendidly attired in velvet, silk, and furs” (p.97). He extends his hypocrisy in quoting bible passages to support his preachings, though these preachings and passages do not apply to his own life. He says, ” I have a master to serve whose kingdom is not of this world: my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh, to teach them to clothe themselves with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with braided hair and costly apparel. . .” (p.96). Although she must learn to deal with Brocklehurst’s complete dominance, Jane changes a lot during her years at Lowood, due mainly to the teachings of Helen Burns and Miss. Temple. Through their instruction, Jane learns how to control her anger over Mr.