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How do the young heroine's experiences at Gatesheadand Lowood prepare the reader for what follows in the novel

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Introduction

Kalpesh Magudia How do the young heroine's experiences at Gateshead and Lowood prepare the reader for what follows in the novel "Jane Eyre"? Jane Eyre was written in 1847 by Charlotte Bront�. Clearly the context in which an author writes will have a profound effect on the portrayal of society. Jane Eyre was written to reflect a contemporary view of the way young women's lives could be affected, if they were unfortunate enough to be born without money. Middle-class women without income had very few options open to them. At the beginning of the novel at Gateshead, Jane Eyre is an orphan who lives with her aunt, Mrs Reed and cousins, Eliza, John and Georgiana. Her aunt and cousins constantly abuse Jane mentally and physically while she is living there. At Lowood, she puts up with physical hardship, and lives in tough conditions, including poor clothing, poor nutrition and more mental abuse. Jane loses people whom she loves and the abuse she suffers at a young age develops her character, this prepares her for the difficulties in life. Jane's relationship with her aunt and her cousins is terrible. Her aunt and cousins abuse her mentally and physically: "...without speaking, he struck suddenly and strongly." ...read more.

Middle

The difficulties that were faced at Lowood included a lack of nutrition in their food on her first breakfast "countenances expressed displeasure," when they were served repulsive burnt porridge. The conditions that Jane had to live in were harsh because Lowood, an orphanage for poor girls was saving on heat and light. Also the problems they faced in Lowood that the girls were lonely and the lessons by today's standards were hard: "repetitions in history and grammar." As in that time the young ladies couldn't prepare for a career at school, they had to marry well later but were unlikely to be married to rich people because they were from an orphanage. The positions of the middle class women were not able to work at manual jobs because they were restricted by society's conventions. Jane has to put up with very difficult living conditions at Lowood which help build her strength of character: "...Toughed up," to solve her own problems. The harsh conditions were cold, little food to eat, walking to church on Sundays, rough clothes, and humiliation from Mr Brocklehurst. On occasional visits hair had to kept very short because Mr Brocklehurst wanted the children to feel pessimistic. Even worse is that Jane was afraid of failure. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jane would lose her independence, lose her self-respect in her character if she were to live with Mr Rochester and "...transgress a mere human law." Jane acts entirely according to what she has learnt from Lowood by fleeing from Thornfield in order to regain some self-control. Her education has taught her to control her actions and if she had lived with Mr Rochester she would have been a social outcast as well as acting immorally by committing bigamy. Only through her decision and strength of her character to do the right thing, can we see that Jane will be truly happy and she cannot live a lie. Overall, at Gateshead and at Lowood Jane has experienced abuse and physical hardships. She has suffered from the poor nutritional food, poor clothing and mental humiliation. Jane's character strengthened over the years because she had to be able to deal with this and with the loss of her loved ones. At Thornfield Jane was able to control her emotions and feelings because she has learned to believe in her religion and accepted that she must sometimes control her emotions. However, Bront� suggests that Jane's passionate and independent character is something to admire. Even now that she has learned to use her strengths for good, she teaches Mr Rochester about humility and treating others with respect. Jane shows self-confidence and we admire Jane for what she has been through and what she earned. ...read more.

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