Charlotte Brontes Jane Eyre was a ground breaking novel in the areas and issues it explored, such as passoin and a female desiring freedom. Bronte placed an unconventional heronie in a typical Victorian home. Jane is a poor, female, child; which immedeately makes her a character that Victorian readers would look down on. This is because she belongs to the three inferior groups of Victorian society. In this essay, I will look at the techniques Bronte used to present Jane, her environment, and other characters to create sympathy for Jane.
Throughout the Novel Jane Eyre, the weather reflects how Jane feels. Bronte begins the pathetic fallacy right from the start. Jane is commenting on the world outside, in ways that reflect how she is feeling, and her situaton. Cloud so sombre and rain so penetrating are examples of this. Ceasless rain gives the impression that these misfortunes are never-ending, and as the weather is described as such from the beginning, suggests that Jane cannot remember a happy time during her life.
In addition to describing Janes feelings, the wheather also gives an insight into her attidude to the future. Afar it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud, near a scene of wet lawn and strorm beat shrub. This shows that Jane avoids exploring what is in the future, leaving it hidden in the mist and cloud, but can find little comfort in the present. This makes the reader feel sympathy for Jane from the start, as the impression of even nature being against her is embedded into the readers mind. When Jane moves on in her journey onto Lowood, the weather again shows how Jane is feeling.
It is winter when Jane moves to Lowood, so the weather has worsened, now being described as severe cold, as has Janes feeling of opression. The plight of many of the students at Lowood is also mimicked by the environment, which is in brown decay, as many of the students die from fever. However, Janes time at Lowood is not and cannot alwayts be set in winter. Many people think that the arival of spring and the departure of the fever are just a natural progression for the two, and that they go hand in hand.
I think that Bronte wanted to symbolise new life in the spring, and another new stage in Janes journey through life. The progression and change in weather at Lowood helps the reader empethise with Jane, and gives them something that they have expeienced themselves to help connect with Jane. During Jane Eyre, Bronte presents many different adults, who each have a huge and different impact on Janes life. All the adults can be seperated into two groups, those adults who opress Jane, and those who offer her support. The two groups usually balance each other out.
The times when one group has more influence than the other indicate a turning point in Janes life. Two of the main characters in the oppressing group are Mrs Reed and Mr Brocklehurst. They are shown as hypocritical, unkind, unjust, and menacing. When Mrs Reed is presented to the reader for the first time, she is by a fire with her darlings around her, and she is a person who needs to exclude Jane from her company. Mrs Reeds favouratism and refusal to see fault in her children is further revealed through her son, John Reed.
Whenever John is misbehaving, Mrs Reed becomes blind and deaf on the subject, and removes him from school because of his health, and pining after home, two things, which it is apparent from his description, that he is not. Mr Brocklehurst is introduced later in the book, his presence makes the Jane, and also the reader, know that Janes potential school is not the safe heaven shed previously imagined it would be. Mr Brocklehurst comes across as a hard, cold man. A black pillar and grim face are two phrases Bronte uses to create this impression.
Describing him as a pillar of marble, reminds the reader of cold places and experiences, and also give an impression of immense strength and controll. Mr Brocklehurst is presented as a hypocrit. He aim to mortify the girls in his school, by feeding them little, and dressing them plainly, but yet he allows his daughter to wear a silk dress, and to eat plenty. In contrast to Mr Brocklehurst and Mrs Reed, Miss Temple and Bessie are presented in a positive way. Miss Temple is a character who cares about those she is responsible for. When fever strikes at Lowood, she stays with her pupils.
She also sets an example by walking lightly and rapidly along the line of cold and dejected line of pupils. These pupils admire her, and think her to be full of goodness. She is portrayed as an angelic person, being tall and fair, and wearing expensive clothes of purple cloth and a gold watch. Helen Burns described her as above the rest, which again suggests provokes the image of an angel, looking after her pupils. Bessie was the only person at Gateshead Hall that Jane felt comfortable with. She told Jane evening stories, which engaged Janes powerful imagination.
When Jane is in the Red Room, she screams wanting to get out. Mrs refuses, but we are told that Bessie pleaded on Janes behalf. For all Bessies positive influence on Jane, she is not fully in support of Janes behaviour. She is dominating when putting Jane into the red room, and reports bad behaviour to Mrs. Reed. Jane and Bessie develop a bond of friendship that lasts through Janes Lowood years, which is demonstrated when Bessie visits Jane at Lowood. The adults that Jane admires and like in her early life, do not have enough power to help her.
This is because they have a higher authority to answer to. Bessie has to answer to Mrs Reed, who wants to oppress Jane. Also Miss Temple has to act within the rules set for her by Mr Brocklehurst. When Miss Temple acts against the rules in place at Lowood by giving a meal of bread and cheese, she is told that it is starving their immortal souls. The position and distribution of power beween the adults is against Jane, which makes the reader pity and emphisise with Jane. Jane is a passionate, mistreated girl. In the first chapter, Jane is dipicted as a lonely, self-envolved person.
She is bullied and tormented my all those around her. Jane tells the reader that Mrs Reed had dispensed of her, and used Janes nature as an excuse to exclude her from any privilages. Janes self-inflicted isolation from the company of others in the first chapter, creates a sense of sympathy towards Jane. While isolated, she draws comfort from her book and she feared nothing but interrupion. This comes too soon for Janes liking, and she is bullied and struck by her cousin, John Reed. Unlike a sterotypical Victorian child, Jane resists. She lets her anger out, and hits back.
To a Victorian reader, this is shocking. Even when Mrs Reed comes to punish her, she resisted all the way, which is unthinkable behaviour for a child of the time. Bronte has made an unusual choice of poor, suffering child. Jane is not a perfect character, and so is fundementally flawed, being in a position that is traditionally looked down upon in Victorian society. As a result of this, Bronte fights and uphill sruggle to make a Victorian adult pity Jane. However, Bronte turns this psition on its head, and uses her resisting nature to create more sympathy for Jane.
It is all done in the narrative voice. Jane is telling the story as she sees it, not as how the reader would imagine it. As a result, the normal behaviour of the adults is seen as scandellous by Jane. Being an imperfect character maes Jane more reallistic, and what makes the reader feel even more sympathy for her, is that later in life, she acknologes it. She says that had I been a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, handsome, romping child… Mrs Reed would have endured my presece more complacently.
This demonstates an understanding of faults, but also illustrates how the young Jane cannot change how she acts, she has to have role models to follow. Helen Burns is the first person of Janes age and gender that she feels comfortable with. As a result of this, Helen is the first person who Jane has as a role model, so Helen teaches her about how to behave. When Jane and Helen have their first meaningful conversation, the extreem contrast between the two girls becomes apparent.
Helen thinks more objectively, asking Jane would you not be happier if you tried to forget her severity? here as Jane does not consider the wider picture. Helen is also deeply religious. She is a very strong christian, and she looks forward to death, Eternity- a rest -a mighty home. This causes Jane to think about death, a subject that a young girl does not wish to comprehend. A character that is of an oposite extreem to Jane, a character who is deadly calm, shows the reader that Jane must should not try to become a perfect person. If she does, she would lose all sense of herself, and this makes the readermpity Jane, as she cannot escape from extreems.
Previously in her life, Jane has had no person who has been a constant source of strength. Jane can draw support and comfort from Helen when she is in difficult situations. When going through the humiliation of standing on the stool in front of the school, a look from Helen gives her an extraordinary sensation. This changes Jane attitude, and she begins to feel like a martyr and a hero. The realisation that she has had no one to support her in this way, creates a sense of sympathy towards Jane. The main theme running through Jane Eyre, is the conflict of calm and passion.
Janes life centred on finding the right balance of calm and passion. The people she meets all try to persuade her to behave in a certain way. Miss Temple, Bessie and Helen all try to calm Jane down. They teach her, by example, to think of everyones view. Other characters bring out Janes passion. These include Mrs Reed and later in the book, Mr Rochester. Passion is sybolised in the book by fire, red and warmth. Calmness is represented by ice and blue. In the beginning of the book, Jane takes comfort from warmth and fire.
She feels jealous of Mrs Reed and her children by the fireside. During winter at Lowood, Jane looks forward to returning to the school, longing for the light and heat of a blazing fire. Many people may read into that passage as symbolising light at the end of a tunnel, but I think that Bronte used light and heat to increase the effect and importance of the fire. Jane also feels out of place in cold places, for example she felt that there was no possibility of taking a walk that day, as the weather was cold. Also, when reading a book set on a cold, dark, night, she feels terror.
Bronte uses symbolism as an alternative method to presenting her main theme. This technique creates the sympathy with Jane, for a reason the reader may only know sub conciously. I think that Bronte presents Jane and her early experiences in a way that creates sympathy for Jane, and makes the reader takes Janes side. She does through the way she present Jane and other characters she interacts with, and the environments she places Jane. Jane Eyre is an exceedingly well written novel, that changed the way writers wrote forever.