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How does Charlotte Brontë show hardship in her portrayal of childhood in Jane Eyre?

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Introduction

Jane Eyre Coursework, GCSE English Assignment How does Charlotte Bront� show hardship in her portrayal of childhood in Jane Eyre? What do we learn about life in Victorian England from the novel? What social issues might Bront� have wanted her Victorian readers to consider? Charlotte Bront� shows hardship in her portrayal of Childhood during Victorian times and life by expressing the cruel, intolerant society, in which children are punished in an unjust manner. Firstly the way, in which Charlotte Bront�'s settings create the mood and contrasts, showing Victorian life and the issues that it raises, must be explored. There are three main settings used in the prose to portray the hardship of childhood during the Victorian era, these three main settings are; Gateshead (the house on the moors), the Red Room, and Lowood, the cheap boarding school Jane is sent to. Gateshead creates a lonely, desolate contrast from the busy Victorian cities like London, which is also situated in the middle of nowhere. Which raises the issue that there is no means of escape from Gateshead because of this, therefore Jane is forced to stay with her relatives, who treat her in a cruel and disrespectful way, due to the fact that she owns nothing. The Red Room which is situated inside the Gateshead house is more of a warmer setting in contrast, than the area around the Gateshead house, however it is more terrifying, as well as being darker as it quotes "Daylight began to forsake the Red Room." ...read more.

Middle

There are also other adults in the prose of Jane Eyre, whose attitudes towards Jane vary accordingly, whether they are kind or hurtful. Bessie the nurse is one of the elder characters, who conveys her response to Jane in a rather nasty way. Bessie constantly shouts at Jane, as it says, "The heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie the nurse". This probably suggests that Bessie does this even as soon as Jane wakes up, however because of the way Mrs Reed acts upon Jane, Bessie does in the same way, probably to impress her employer in her self interests to gain her own benefits. Abbott is another unfriendly character who portrays the hardship set upon Jane, who acts in the same way as Bessie who is her master, in the same way that Mrs Reed is Bessie's. Furthermore the other adults who are very hurtful towards Jane are a majority of the Teachers at Lowood, for example Miss Scatcherd who is a prime example of the hardship of childhood during Victorian times. Miss Scatcherd is not only nasty to Jane but also many other young children like Helen Burns. The text quotes upon this by saying, "You dirty disagreeable girl! You have never cleaned you nails this morning" this shows the teachers, intolerant and extremely strict ways of handling children's problems. However there are some adults who do not portray the hardship of Victorian childhood like Mr Lloyd, the less expensive apothecary Jane is given instead, of a more expensive physician, which is the luxury of the rest of the family. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although the methods used for even more undisciplined actions, were corporal punishment where the pupils were physically punished, as the prose says, " the teacher instantly and sharply inflicted on her neck a dozen strokes with the bunch of twigs." Bront� also contrasts different teachers to illustrate the right and wrong treatment of pupils, for example Miss Smith and Miss Scatcherd. Miss Smith is quiet, and placid with Jane as it says "I was glad, when about three o' clock in the afternoon, Miss Smith put into my hands a border of muslin two yards long, " which shows how Jane is more calm, under the solo teaching of Miss Smith. Whereas Miss Scatcherd's presence causes more tension within the bigger classes, whose treatment of pupils is often very intolerant and demanding of them, as Miss Scatcherd says " nothing can correct you of your slatternly habits: carry the rod away." Therefore what is learned from reading the novel Jane Eyre, is the aspect of childhood in Victorian life, and the hardship many children lived and died through, in which mistakes and disobedience within the traditions of life during the time, led to severe punishment and cruelty. Furthermore the reasons Charlotte Bront�, may have had for portraying childhood at the time in this way, is that she once lived through the hardship herself, and decided to reflect on this, so people could gain more understanding, of the life of a child in those times and now, and that Jane Eyre may simply be Charlotte Bront� herself, retracing her steps. ...read more.

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