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"Explore how Bronte uses setting to reflect the experiences of her characters".

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Introduction

Jane Eyre-English Coursework "Explore how Bronte uses setting to reflect the experiences of her characters". Bronte describes every setting in "Jane Eyre" in a vast amount of detail, using a number of different language techniques, so as to portray the experiences of her characters, almost subconsciously, to the reader. She seeks also to convey the moods of her characters, using methods such as pathetic fallacy and symbolism, in order to express their emotions indirectly. Bronte uses all of these methods, as well as a number of scenes containing juxtaposition, and the overall structure of her writing style, consistently throughout the book, as she follows Jane through her life. Jane's personal changes and experiences, at each stage in her life, and those of her fellow characters, are powerfully communicated to the reader. Bronte employs close descriptive detail in her portrayal of Gateshead which reflects Jane's emotional turmoil. As well as this, she uses symbolism when setting the scene in the red room, in order to portray Jane's feelings and mood to the reader. For example, she describes all of the red objects within the room: " hung with curtains of deep red damask", " the carpet was red" and " the table at the foot of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth". These vivid, deep shades of red all are known to symbolise danger and blood, which usually tend to create a sense of fear, and consequently, this is one of the emotions Jane is inclined to feel. As well as this, she describes the furniture in such a way that it seems incomprehensibly gigantic and intimidating to Jane as, " it was one of the largest and stateliest chambers", " massive pillars of mahogany", " shrouded in festoons" and "deep surrounding shades rose high". ...read more.

Middle

The fire could well represent Jane's situation and personality at that time. The fire is something that is very heated and intense, like Jane; and, since the arrival of Mr Rochester, that flame which has previously been suffocated has now been given air, and has progressed into an unquenchable blaze. Moreover, when the actual fire strikes Mr Rochester, he is lying unconscious on his bed. So, it is as though Jane is the thing in his life, that creeps up when he has become guarded and numb, and breaks down his emotional barriers, by effectively waking him up. Finally, the water which Jane pours over him to save him, could symbolise the lengths to which Jane is prepared to go to, to rescue him from his repressive life. In her detailed description of Thornfield's attic, Bronte reflects Jane's feelings towards Rochester, and her curiosity as to whether he is hiding anything from her. The area of the house in which all of the guests are sleeping has many twisting paths and rooms which could represent the confusion that Jane is feeling about her sentiments towards Rochester; "for until the house is settled, she cannot be looked after". This shows that until her mind is at ease and she understands what it is he is keeping from her and why, she cannot go on with her life or with Rochester. Furthermore, everyone is sleeping in "separate dormitories", locked and hidden away from each other, representing the way in which Rochester is hiding the truth. Moreover, Bronte uses contrasting light and dark colours when setting the scene, in order to create mystery and to indicate towards the truth; " the dark, low corridor of the fateful third story" and " a light shone out of the room from within". ...read more.

Conclusion

This vividly displays both the strength of Rochester's self-defence and withdrawal but also the strength or her love for him and her determination to help him. When they are finally reunited, Jane devotes all of her love and care to Mr Rochester and the house and his sight begins to return slowly. Consequently, he has a whole new, more positive outlook on life, and this is reflected within the setting: "I had wakened the glow, his features beamed" and " I led him out of the wet and wild woods into some cheerful fields". Bronte's skilful use of language and detailed description of her characters goes some way towards conveying to us their experiences and their predicaments. But, I believe that, it is by the powerful use of setting that the book is given its full intensity, passion, tension and momentum. Moods and emotions are dextrously suggested, or reinforced and strengthed through such devices as: colour e.g. red and crimson, contrasts e.g. stark and opulent, and symbolism e.g. the decaying and impenetrable Ferndean. These same devices and contrasts also serve to maintain an air of uncertainty and tension- not just for the reader, but for Jane also. For example, the settings in which she finds herself leaver her feeling, "half imp, half fairy" and with her mind full of, "fancies bright and dark". The strong and frequent use of imagery and symbolism throughout the book, to link characters and setting, not only draws the reader in, but almost demands their emotional involvement, their empathy, and often their sympathy. There is no doubt in my mind that Bronte's deliberate, persistent and careful use of setting to reflect her characters' experiences is pivotal to the book's success. English Coursework-Jane Eyre Lauren Richardson 11G ...read more.

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