Jane Eyre, By Charlotte Bronte Essay

1340 words - 5 pages

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte not only traces Jane's development as an independent individual, but it can also be read as a description of her personal journey in finding a family through the five settings in the novel. From beginning to end Jane engages with an array of nurturing, maternal women whom model a family for her, but also encounters those who torment her and bring her great suffering. In reading this novel, we’re not only able to trace Jane’s development as an individual, but can also see the book as her journey in search for family, for a sense of belonging, and for a home.
The story begins with introducing the unloved, ten-year old orphan named Jane Eyre, who lives in a mansion entitled Gateshead, with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, and several cousins. Her parents had passed away long before this time, leaving the Reed’s to be her only family to abide with. Mrs. Reed was cruel and resented Jane because she claimed her late husband, whom Jane dearly missed, had always loved Jane more than his own children. Jane’s three young cousins living at Gateshead were spoiled and obnoxious figures that had just as much antipathy as Mrs. Reed did towards her. She feared her cousin John especially, for he was quite verbally and physically abusive towards Jane’s frail character. This image of family Jane received from the Reed family at Gateshead was not a positive one in any sense. Although she does not receive any parental love from Mrs. Reed, Jane finds one maternal figure at Gateshead, named Bessie Lee. Bessie was the only figure in Jane’s childhood who regularly treated her kindly. When Jane experience traumatic and violating times at Gateshead, such as the incident in the red-room, Bessie was the one who calmed Jane. She also taught Jane to find comfort in stories and songs when things got tough. Even with the nurture she’d received from Bessie, Jane is too scarred from the Reed family to receive the true love and affection that she desires. Jane will continue to carry this anticipation for a real family throughout her travels beyond Gateshead, carrying her emotional baggage from her experiences at Gateshead along with.
Jane is next sent by Mrs. Reed to a boarding school for girls called Lowood. Excited at first, Jane soon comes to realize the wretched school for what it really was. The girls living at Lowood were orphans and destitute children that were treated very poorly. Jane speaks on page 44 about the living conditions at Lowood. The students were fed very little, practically starved, spent from sun up to sun down on school work and were not given any amount of necessary hygienic supplies. While at the school, Jane finds another maternal figure in the form of Miss Temple, who doesn’t necessarily have much power in the world at large, but possesses great charm and spiritual strength. Not only does she shelter Jane from pain, she also encourages her intellectual and spiritual development. Of Miss Temple, Jane writes “she had stood by me in...

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