Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre starts off this novel by going into her life when she was younger. The family she had been living with, the Reeds were not nice to her and just picked on her, especially John in one instance, where she even got punished and she had to stay in the red room. I felt very sorry for Jane, but we can see that she has a strong attitude, she defended herself but because she was young, and had enough, and was a burden to the Reeds she just got into more trouble. The Reeds do not let her forget that she is an orphan and lower than a servant since they say she does not pay for her room and is not thankful. Jane felt very out of place because she did not have a true home or family.

The red room at this point of Janes life is important. It was her uncles room; she does bring him up a couple of times, for example when she wants to stop thinking about him while she is locked in there and does not want his ghost to comfort her, and when she asks her aunt what he would think if he was still living. The color red is not known to be a calming color, it is deep, vivd, and can stand for a lot of things (love, danger, blood, etc.) and Jane was kind of having a panic attack so this room would not do her any better. But because Jane went into this room she began thinking and went through a trauma which later on leads her aunt to send her away. I think it was very evil for Mrs. Reed to put a child in a room where someone had died and lock her in. Although Jane is living with her rich, estranged family she is tormented. It is interesting how everyone antagonizes Jane and then scold her and lecture her about her behavior, and they do not see that is why she acted against them. She does not support what is not right.

Jane prefers to go to school than stay with the Reeds. She did not like the way Mrs. Reed described her to Mr. Brocklehurst because of course she was trying to make her look bad. All she had in their home was Bessie, who actual saw Jane as a child and respected her more than the others did. At Lowood Jane could not be the only one who gets into trouble she will have some type of equality with these girls because she will not be the only poor orphan, although Jane does not want to be poor and does not think that Lowood even looks appealing but she accepts it.

In other stories about poor orphans (Oliver Twist, Cinderella, Annie) they all are kind of saved by wealthy people from their bad living conditions, whereas in Jane Eyre she was already living with a wealthy family and could have had a decent life and education but she was looked down upon and not really considered their close family. She was freed from them by going into a maybe below average in Victorian times school. In these other stories these orphans go through obstacles which lead them into finding a better home. But in Jane Eyre she is really on her own and in a new environment where she has to start from the beginning and meet new people. There still are obstacles in Janes life from Lowood, like not being fed well but she is able to handle herself and makes friends. She is no longer what the spoiled Reeds pick on. One thing that this novel does have in common with other stories about poor orphans is the character of Bessie. She is the nice one and the understanding one who let’s Jane hold her hand when she thought she saw something in the red room, but she never crosses the line of being completely on Janes side because she has to keep her place (and job.) Stories like Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist, Annie, and Cinderella all take place in different time periods but there are characters who have effect their lives and look down on them because the don’t have their families.

Jane sounds like she is beginning to understand why her aunt was treating badly, she thinks they have different attitudes and temperments. Would things really be different if her uncle was living?

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7 thoughts on “Jane Eyre

  1. Nathan

    I think that identifying the tropism and the motifs that this story shares with others is really useful when considering the narrative agenda Bronte has. It is clear that she is mistreating young Jane in order to 1. create a compelling backstory and 2. to engender deep feelings of sympathy from the readers. As opposed to Austen’s characters and writing style, Bronte allows us to hear the inner thoughts of Jane to the exclusion of any others. Further these thoughts are reflected seemingly coming from an older Jane looking back. This makes me wonder if any of the elements of the story are/were embellished. I would hope that young Jane’s experience’s were not all bad, however the way her lifetime is presented during this era shades things very particularly.
    I was reading something interesting about how authors can amp up these emotional responses here
    http://emergingwriters.us/writing-for-emotional-impact/
    and was wondering what you guys thought.

  2. clemence

    It is true the 5 first chapters of Jane Eyre are remininding of other “poor orphans” stories. And as in every poor orphans story, there is a benefactor. Here, you mentionned Bessie, the only character who acts quite humanly towards Jane, and also the only character to humanize her. Jane seems to open herself and acts like a child (what she is supposed to be) when Bessie is around. I have a question related to this : would it be possible, considering the Vistorian morality, to write this story without Bessie? Without her, Jane’s life would almost be a torture, and I guess this doesn’t fit the decency of the Victorian area; so I wonder if this character is here because “it has to”.

  3. alixg

    I think it’s really interesting how you analyzed the use of the color red. I totally glazed over that detail, but now that you highlighted it, it puts a lot more emphasis on the role of that room and Jane’s hysteria. I also appreciated how you related Jane’s narrative back to the classic stereotypical orphan narrative; again, this was something that I felt was beneficial to me as a reader. You touch upon the role of Bessie and I’d love to discuss that further: is she actually on Jane’s side? While reading chapters 1-5, I really felt like she kept hovering between the two extremes and never really committed to either helping Jane or abandoning her as Mrs. Reed does. Is Bessie a weak character? What particularly bothered me was the conversation between Bessie and Miss Abbot, a moment in which Bessie could reveal her true colors and indeed does: she reveals her inability to possess a strong stance. She begins by saying that Jane is to be pitied, but then when Abbot says that she’d pity Jane if she was prettier, Bessie agrees! Their exchange quickly switches to the topic of a Welsh rabbit for dinner, and just like that the topic of pitying Jane is closed. Quite a bizarre little tidbit and showing a lack of compassion towards Jane.

    Alix Greenberger

  4. Sunjida

    It is also interesting when Charlotte Bronte makes a reference to Gulliver’s Travels. Gulliver’s Travels revolves around the protagonist’s fantastical voyages to faraway land and similarly Jane sets off on series of her own journeys. The reference to Gulliver’s Travels in Jane Eyre is especially appropriate when thinking in terms of how Jane relates to people around her. Gulliver is often in lands where he is seen as a complete outsider. He travels to lands where he is surrounded by tiny little people and he is the largest being or where he is tiny compared to the giant-like people that inhabit the land. Gulliver is never with his own kind for very long and always feels out of place or unwanted. When he finally finds a place ironically among the Houyhnhnm , and feels at home, they reject him because they find him to be too much like the creatures that act as their servants. Just like Jane, Gulliver is often on the outside looking in, but is desperately seeking for companionship and a place to call her own.

  5. Kimberly Sciacca

    In my reading, I didn’t make the correlation to other poor children in fiction until I read your response, then I was vehemently comparing the children you have listed and Jane Eyre. It’s an interesting comparison, and I liked how you pointed out that they were saved by rich families/people, but in this case she is in the rich family to begin with. I now compare her a bit to Cinderella, in the correlation to being treated so poorly by a family that is supposed to be so good and so loving. The movie a Cinderella Story, a modern day based Cinderella, reminds me a lot of Jane Eyre because the main character was orphaned by her father, who had tried to ensure her a good, fulfilled life, much like Jane’s uncle Reed, and then her future is distorted and changed by her evil step mother. Like Jane Eyre the protagonist of A Cinderella Story, tries to get out of her house to better he life and that is through going to school, in the case of the movie, it’s college.

    As regards to your question, I thought that same thing. I wanted so badly for her uncle just to still be alive because then she would have had a good life and would have been more assimilated as part of the family. I believe that her life would have been drastically different if her uncle were alive, and I loved when she said that to her Aunt Reed. I thought she was so brave to be able to acknowledge that this isn’t the life that her uncle wanted for her and her Aunt is completely disregarding that.

  6. Jason Tougaw

    It’s great you picked up on the various fairytales that influenced Charlotte Brontë when she wrote Jane Eyre. When they were kids, she and her siblings (two of whom also become published novelists) uses to make up stories about a fictional world they called Angria. Those stories were influenced by fairy tales, and in turn the themes and plots from those stories show up in new forms in her novels. Cinderella is particularly relevant with regard to Jane Eyre.

  7. Ali Troiano

    While I was reading, I also drew connections between Jane Eyre’s upbringing and “other stories about poor orphans.” I think it is interesting that you bring up Cinderella because I particularly thought about fairy tale narratives in relation to this text. In a “Feminist Fairy Tales” class I took last semester, we discussed female relationships depicted in classic fairy tale narratives and variants. Interestingly enough, negative female relationships were common in variants or revisions of these tales. I think we are all familiar with the trope of the evil stepmother and stepsisters. We see this in the relationship between Jane and Mrs. Reed. In a way, Jane represents a type of Cinderella character. There is even a “fairy godmother” character in Bessie, which seems to be the only positive female relationship we see thus far. In this way, Charlotte Bronte enters into this discussion of female relationships through a Cinderella-like revision. So far in the reading, Bronte mainly deals with female characters and female environments. I am interested to see how female relationships are depicted in the rest of the novel.

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