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Charlotte Bronte's timeless classic, Jane Eyre, is a perfect example of bildingsroman, the education novel.

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Introduction

Charlotte Bronte's timeless classic, Jane Eyre, is a perfect example of bildingsroman, the education novel. Jane Eyre is, certainly, a "coming of age" story as the main character, Jane, travels from the innocence of childhood through the maturity of adulthood. During this journey, Jane goes through the battle of education vs. containment, where she attempts to learn about herself and about the world. She must constantly battle a containment of sorts, however, whether it be a true physical containment or a mental one. This battle of education vs. containment can be seen by following Jane through her different places of residence, including Gateshead Hall, Lowood Institution, Thornfield, Moor House and Morton, and Ferndean Manor, where she is, finally, fully educated and escapes the feeling of containment which she held throughout the novel. The story begins as Jane lives with the Reed family in their home at Gateshead Hall. Here, the theme of education vs. containment develops immediately, as Jane is kept confined indoors on a cold winter day. The other children (Eliza, John, and Giorgiana) are "clustered round their mamma in the drawing-room" (Bronte: 39) being educated, as Jane had been excluded from the group. ...read more.

Middle

Its purpose is not to further these orphaned girls by truly educating them and giving them the same opportunities as everyone else, but merely to educate them to serve, not to amount to anything but an underclass to serve the wealthy. Jane will not settle for this as she tells Helen, "I must dislike those who, whatever I do to please them, persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish me unjustly" (Bronte: 90). Jane's next battle occurs at Thornfield, after she has graduated from Lowood and has, herself, taught there. At Thornfield, Jane becomes educated about the more worldly aspects of life and she is actually an educator, herself, of Adele Varnes, the young ward of the master of Thornfield, Edward Rochester. For the first time Jane experiences the pleasures of love and caring for a man when she slowly falls in love with Rochester. She often daydreams of Rochester and the "hopes, wishes, sentiments" (Bronte: 190) she has been cherishing. However, the strict upbringing that she has received constrain her education of love as she concludes, "It does good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly intend to marry her; and its madness in all women to let secret love kindle within them" (Bronte: 190). ...read more.

Conclusion

John, is impossible for her. With Rochester at Ferndean, Jane finds the balance between spiritual and worldly happiness, as Rochester, finally, "began to see and acknowledge the hand of God" (Bronte: 471). Jane is an "independent woman now" (Bronte: 459) as she has broken free from her constrains and is fully educated on life. The battle of education vs. containment has, ultimately, ended, as Jane has achieved happiness in every way. She summarizes her satisfaction with her life married to Rochester as she states, "All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character - perfect concord is the result" (Bronte: 476). Jane Eyre, certainly, does come of age in Charlotte Bronte's classic education novel. At the beginning of the book, Jane is a lonely dependent orphan girl, but she battles the constraints of her harsh upbringing and becomes educated, not only intellectually, but socially and spiritually, as well. She develops into a strong, confident and independent woman. She neither has to give up her spiritual beliefs nor her normal human desires for love to be genuinely happy. Jane becomes the epitome of the modern woman, as she manages a perfect balance between both, the spiritual and the physical, which is what she really wanted in life. ...read more.

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