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How does Charlotte Bronte create sympathy for Jane in the opening chapters of the novel Jane Eyre?

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Introduction

How does Charlotte Bronte create sympathy for Jane in the opening chapters of the novel Jane Eyre? Charlotte Bronte begins the novel with descriptions of the November weather, cold, harsh and inhospitable. It is very gloomy and hostile; this is use of the pathetic fallacy as it reflects Jane's state of mind and how she is feeling: "The cold winter wind." Also the use of "I" at the beginning of the novel instantly makes us enter into the workings of Jane's mind, which helps the reader understand what Jane is feeling: "I was glad of it." The novel is semi - autobiographical: it is based on some parts of Charlotte's life and Jane Eyre writes it like an autobiography. Jane is writing the novel as an adult and she goes on to talk about her unhappiness towards her family. She is treated as if she is not as good as her siblings, Eliza, John and Georgiana Reed: "My physical inferiority." The cousins are so beautiful compared to Jane, she is condemned for being not as beautiful as them, and she is also condemned for being poor; she is lower down on the social hierarchy because of her poverty so therefore her aunt, Mrs Reed feels treats her cruelly. ...read more.

Middle

Bronte paints a picture of John with adjectives "large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin." He is fat and unhealthy because his mother spoils him. John commits suicide, which shows that his mother wasn't doing him any favours while he was young by giving him everything he wanted, which underlines the Christian principles of the novel. Jane was not over indulged and she had a happy adulthood. Bronte uses balanced clauses when talking about this ordeal with John "not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice a day, but continually"; the repetition of every in "every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh in my bones," and the emotive language show how much she fears John. Jane is "habitually obedient to John" as he makes her stand in front of him for three minutes which is torture; he lashed out at her and he had obviously done it before. "I knew he would soon strike." John insults Jane and calls her animal names, "rat" which was extremely degrading as he tells her she has no rights because she is poor. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although imprisoned, she is unrepentant. Also, she is perceptive and intelligent and very different from a conventional "Victorian" heroine, she will not bow to injustice or ill treatment and is not subservient - she will not acknowledge "her place", which also adds to our sympathy. Overall, Charlotte Bronte uses many different ways to create sympathy for Jane. These are the different uses of settings, language and characters. The way Jane is treated helps the reader feel sorry for her. The Victorian culture shows, as Jane has no looks or money she must be inferior to everyone else. Jane feels "alien" and she is socially lower as she didn't have any parents, she had no money and she is "less than a servant" because she does not earn her keep. There were also fears about poverty since it was the ultimate degradation. To be poor was the stigma. Also it was thought that her uncle coming back could really happen and something could fetch her from the chimney, as ghosts and superstition were a large part of people's lives. Also the fact that Jane even considered suicide showed how distressed she was, the only thing that stopped her was the realisation that suicide was a sin. All of these successfully capture our sympathy for Jane. Lucille Sargent Mrs Watkins ...read more.

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