Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is a novel about a woman, Jane, moving from place to place on a path to find her own feeling of independence. 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. As Jane progressed through the novel her emotional growth was primarily supported by the people and the places she was around. This examination will look for textual support from different sections of Jane Eyre to review how Jane had grown emotionally and intellectually as she moved from location to location, as well as looking at critical analysis from Bronte critics as to how each location plays a role in Jane’s progression.
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.
In “From the Red Room to Rochester’s Haircut: Mind Control in Jane Eyre” by Judith Leggatt and Christopher Parkes they both asses that throughout the novel, Jane encounters and rebels against various typical tyrants. The Reeds being one of the first and biggest institutions that attempt to break her spirit. The Reeds attempt to “enclose Jane both physically and imaginatively so that she becomes their property.” (Leggatt 171) Parks and Leggatt refer to Jane’s first account of John Reed’s abuse and her reaction to his cruelty that it set a pattern which continues throughout the novel. As John Reed begins to insult Jane, she is at first meek and passive.
“Jane describes herself as “[h]abitually obedient to John” and claims that “[a]ccustomed to John Reed’s abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it; my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult” (7). After John Reed throws a book at her, however, Jane leaves her passive acceptance in a moment of rebellion. She compares her cousin to “a murderer,” “a slave-driver,” and “the Roman emperors” (8).” (Legatt 172)
Placing John in the role of a cruel bully Jane allows herself to defend physically and to attack her tormentor. “However Jane is punished for her rebellion by being thrown into a dungeon—or the closest thing to a dungeon in the upper-class home of the Reeds. Jane explicitly compares the red room to a jail (12) and only narrowly escapes being “tied down” (9).” (Leggatt 172)...