In the early chapters of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte presents Jane as a young girl who is struggling with her identity and place in the world. Jane is an orphan who is sent to live with her aunt and cousins, where she is treated poorly and feels like an outsider. However, Jane is a determined and independent spirit, and she eventually manages to find her way in the world.
Bronte does an excellent job of depicting Jane’s childhood experiences in a relatable and realistic way. Jane is a complex character who goes through a lot of growth and development throughout the novel, and readers can’t help but root for her as she struggles to find her place in the world. Bronte’s depiction of Jane’s childhood is one of the many reasons why Jane Eyre is such a timeless and classic novel.
In terms of themes and issues, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre was a groundbreaking work, particularly in terms of passion and a woman desiring liberty. Bronte placed an unusual heronie in a typical Victorian home. Jane is a low-income, female, young girl; thus she instantly becomes an antagonist for Victorian readers. This is due to the fact that she belongs to one of three despised groups in Victorian society. In this essay, I’ll examine how Charlotte Bronte utilized plot devices such as setting, characterization, and environment to elicit empathy for Jane.
One of the main techniques used by Charlotte Bronte is pathetic fallacy. Jane’s poor living conditions are resemblant to her inner state. For example, when Jane is locked in the red room, the description of the room reflects Jane’s feelings of being trapped and alone. The “great book case…with its dark shelves and gothic ornaments” (Bronte, 1847, p.52) creates a feeling of gloom which mirrors Jane’s emotions.
Another example is when Rochester is injured in the fire. The fact that he is “blinded and maimed” (Bronte, 1847, p.461) represents his inner state of being broken and desolate. This technique allows readers to feel empathy for Jane as they understand her feelings and experiences.
Another technique Charlotte Bronte uses is the use of light and dark. This is used to contrast Jane’s good qualities with the bad qualities of other characters. For example, when Jane first arrives at Gateshead, she is described as having a “pale face” with a “faint flush” on her cheek (Bronte, 1847, p.13).
This immediately makes her seem like a victim. In contrast, Georgiana is described as being very beautiful with a “glowing complexion” (Bronte, 1847, p.14). However, it is later revealed that Georgiana is actually quite selfish and cruel. This contrasts Jane’s good nature with Georgiana’s bad nature, making Jane seem more sympathetic.
Lastly, Charlotte Bronte uses the technique of foreshadowing to create sympathy for Jane. For example, when Jane is locked in the red room, she has a vision of her uncle’s ghost. This foreshadows Jane’s later experiences with ghosts and gives readers a hint that Jane is not crazy, as she is often accused of being.
Another example of foreshadowing is when Mrs. Reed tells Jane that she will go to Lowood because “it is a charity school” (Bronte, 1847, p.20). This foreshadows Jane’s later experiences at Lowood and creates sympathy for her as readers know that she will be going to a difficult place.
The weather in Jane Eyre reflects how Jane feels throughout the story. From the very beginning, Bronte establishes the pathetic fallacy. Jane is talking about the outside world in a way that reflects her feelings, and her circumstances. Clouds hanging so gloomy and rain pummeling intently are examples of this. The idea of perpetual rain gives the impression that these disasters are never-ending, and since it is mentioned from the start that Jane cannot recall a joyful period in her life, it implies she can’t either.
She has no hope that anything will ever get better, and this is shown by the fact that it is always raining. The novel Jane Eyre is set during the Victorian era, which was known for its high levels of poverty and inequality. This is reflected in Jane’s situation, as she is a poor orphan who is constantly mistreated. Charlotte Bronte uses the weather to show how Jane’s childhood experiences have shaped her into the person she is today.
The first time we see Jane really suffering is when Mr. Reed locks her in the ‘Red Room’ This room is significant because it represents Jane’s mind, and how she feels locked away from the world. The room is also red, which is traditionally seen as a symbol of anger and danger. Jane is locked in the room as punishment, and she is so scared that she faints. This shows how Jane feels trapped and helpless, like she can never escape her misery. The fact that she faints also suggests that Jane has given up hope, and doesn’t believe that things will ever get better.
When Jane finally escapes the ‘Red Room’, she runs outside into the garden. The garden is usually seen as a place of peace and calm, but for Jane it is just another place where she feels trapped. She compares herself to a caged bird, which is unable to fly free. This symbolizes how Jane feels restricted by her situation, and how she longs for freedom. Charlotte Bronte uses the garden to show how Jane’s childhood experiences have made her into a person who feels trapped and oppressed.
When Jane leaves Lowood, the weather depicts how she is feeling. When Jane goes to Lowood, it’s winter, so the weather has grown worse and is now described as harsh chilly. The situation of many of the students at Lowood is also mirrored by the environment, which is in brown decline owing to their sickness and deaths from fever.
The school is a dreary, dark place. Jane, however, manages to find some happiness here, in her friendship with Helen Burns. Jane’s character is further developed through her interactions with Mr. Brocklehurst, the administrator of Lowood. Jane is able to see through his false piety and recognizes the hypocrisy in his actions. She speaks up for herself and the other students when she has the opportunity, despite Mr. Brocklehurst’s attempts to silence her.
Jane’s time at Lowood is not all negative, as she does form a close friendship with Helen Burns. Jane looks up to Helen, who possesses all the Christian virtues that Jane admires. Jane is devastated when Helen dies, but she finds comfort in knowing that Helen is now in a better place. Jane’s experiences at Lowood have made her a stronger person, and she is ready to face the next phase of her life.
However, Jane’s stay at Lowood cannot and does not always take place during the winter. Many people believe that the return of spring and the departure of the ailment are merely a natural progression for the two, with one leading to the other.
I believe that Bronte was attempting to highlight new life in the spring when she wrote this passage, and that another new stage in Jane’s life is approaching. The change in weather at Lowood allows readers to connect with Jane by empathizing with her, as well as providing something similar to what they have experienced themselves to assist them relate to Jane.
When Jane first arrives at Lowood, it is during the winter. She is cold, both physically and emotionally. She has just been rejected by her aunt and cousins, and she is feeling very alone in the world. The cold weather at Lowood mirrors Jane’s inner state, and helps the reader to understand how Jane is feeling.
When spring comes to Lowood, Jane’s life begins to change. She makes friends, she begins to feel more comfortable in her surroundings, and she starts to feel more hopeful about her future. The change in weather symbolizes the change in Jane’s life, and helps the reader to see how far Jane has come since she first arrived at Lowood.
Bronte uses the weather to symbolize the different stages of Jane’s life, and to help the reader understand how Jane is feeling. The cold weather at Lowood represents Jane’s loneliness and isolation, but the arrival of spring symbolizes new hope and a new beginning for Jane.