Jane Eyre


Jane Eyre Essay, Research Paper

‘Jane Eyre’ is a book that is written in a way that draws the reader into Jane’s life and emotions. At the beginning of the book, we see nineteenth century life through a child’s eyes. Jane is not treated kindly or with love and because of this we see how awfully some children were treated in the nineteenth century, so very different to our world today where that would be unacceptable to treat a child badly. The author, Charlotte Bronte was like the character she invented, so she found it easy to express Jane’s emotions and thoughts. Charlotte wanted ignorant people to see the pain that she suffered in her life, for example her mother and sister’s deaths. Charlotte went to a school like Lowood, so she was writing from memories, rather than what she had learned from others.

I think that Jane’s later life is how Charlotte would have liked her own to be. It is like many stories, even those written in the present day, which is the author’s fantasy. The fairytale-like ending resembles not just any fairytale, but one in particular, Cinderella.

‘Jane Eyre’ is set in the early to mid nineteenth century and we see how different life today is, compared with the time which Jane lived. In the nineteenth century, school was not compulsory and that is why many people had little or even no education at all. If you were rich, you would have a good education, but you would not have to work. If you were poor however, your education, if any would not be of a very good standard and you would have to work to earn enough money to survive.

Today, men and women are treated equally, which was certainly not the case in the nineteenth century. Women, in the nineteenth century were treated as if they were inferior to men.

‘Seating himself in an armchair, he intimated by a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him´ Poor women were expected to work as well as look after their husbands i.e. cook, clean and serve their husband like a slave to his master. Rich women were just there to be wives basically. Still rich women were to please their husband, but not by cooking and cleaning etc., as servants would be employed to do this. The country was definitely male dominated.

Charlotte Bronte is attacking the social injustices that were present in the nineteenth century. Bronte successfully does this and vividly portrays what life was like at the time the book is set.

A rich girl living in the nineteenth century was expected to be ’seen and not heard’. These model girls would read the bible, obey their elders, act happy and contented at all times and never argue or answer back. Their childhood was just full of acting how it was seen fit to act at that time, much like their womanhood would be. Rich girls also would be pretty and be artistic, showing this by singing, playing the piano and painting.

A rich boy living in the nineteenth century was supposed to be quite the opposite of what was expected of a girl. Boys should have physically strong and active. They were also expected to be naughty and loud and of course dominant, as they would be in later life.

Unlike today, in the nineteenth century there was a very definite set of what one would almost call ‘rules’ of how and how not to behave. ‘Until she could discover by her own observations that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner – something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were – she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy little children´. It would be rather frowned upon for an adult not to ‘obey’ these expectations but for a child, totally unacceptable, in the eyes of rich people, certainly.

Jane was never treated as a rich child. She was treated as a poor girl who didn’t deserve to have the life that she did have. This theory about Jane’s childhood portrays Mrs Reed as a very generous woman, which we, as the reader can argue against. Jane thinks of poverty as being dirty, unnourished, badly treated and basically, below her social status. Jane does not however feel she is of high social standing, as she is not treated as such and constantly told otherwise by the adults in her life.

Although Jane is strong willed and highly strung, she does have fears. Her greatest fear in life is of poverty and having to go to a poorhouse where she knows her life would be unimaginably painful and hard. Unfortunately, Jane was never taught that poor people shouldn’t be treated as outcasts and that they still can be happy as well as poor. ‘Poverty for me was synonymous with degradation.´ Jane sees happiness and poverty as two totally unlinked things.

Later in the book we see Jane facing her deepest fear. Jane ends up poor and alone. She does not know how to cope with this sudden poverty as she has always had a good home, even if that was for many years her school. Luckily, Jane was taken in by a clergyman and his…

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