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How does Charlotte Bronte use the different houses in her novel Jane Eyre?

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Introduction

How does Charlotte Bronte use the different houses in her novel Jane Eyre? In the novel Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte uses different locations in particular different houses to produce a structural base for the story and to provide a basis for Jane's progression through life and the changes she experiences. The houses are a background to the plot of Jane Eyre that is the evolution of Jane from lonely orphan at Gateshead into an established and well-developed character at Ferndean who is Mr Rochester's equal. Throughout the story Jane lives in many houses all that are different in certain aspects but in some aspects they are similar. One such aspect is that all the houses have a dominant male in Gateshead it is John Read in Lowood it is Mr Brocklehurst and at Thornfield even though she is equal to Mr Rochester when they are alone when guests are present she must then observe the social hierarchy which means Mr Rochester is dominant over Jane. Another similarity is that in each of different and contrasting houses there is always an over all feeling of Jane being trapped and constrained inside their walls. Jane is always fighting against the dominant males in the houses as seen when she encounters John Reed and calls him a murderer. She always rebels against the dominant male in the household until she meets Rochester who is not only the dominant male but also a kind and loving person. Apart from the dominant male in each house there is also a kind guide such as Bessie in Gateshead and Miss Temple in Lowood. There is one exception and this is in Thornfield where Mr Rochester is both the dominant male and kind presence in the house. In Jane Eyre houses play an important part in shaping and forming the structure of the novel. The represent important milestones in Jane's progression through life. ...read more.

Middle

To Jane there is never a worse time in her life not even her time at Lowood is as bad because at Lowood she has a friend in Helen and kindness from Miss Temple. The peak of despair and cruelty that Jane suffers at Gateshead is when she is locked in the red room. 'Mrs Reed, impatient of my now frantic anguish and wild sobs, abruptly threw me back and locked me in, without further parley.' This clearly shows how Jane was mistreated at Gateshead and how she was victimised by Mrs Reed. Jane was bullied and beaten for no other reason than that she was not a proper member of the family. John Reed and Mrs Reed both saw Jane as a leach who didn't even deserve the respect that was given to the servants because she didn't work for them. One common theme in Jane Eyre is that wherever Jane goes she will always encounter a person who shows some degree of kindness towards. At Gateshead this such person is Bessie who gives Jane a tart after she has a fit in the red room where Mr Reed died. 'She brought up with her a tart on a certain brightly painted china plate.' Even though Bessie was one of the people who first put Jane in the red room she still has a sense of compassion towards Jane even though Mrs Reed does not. Charlotte Bronte makes Jane a very rebellious character at Gateshead this before she goes to Lowood where she mellow a little bit under the advice of Helen. This rebelliousness that Jane shows at Gateshead shows that Jane can endure the harshness of Gateshead without it breaking her spirit. This is an important character trait in Jane. Jane returns to Gateshead half way through her stay at Thornfield this is to shows the comparisons between the two. Another reason that Charlotte Bronte does this is to show how Jane has grown and changed from the young rebellious girl at Gateshead to the fully-grown mature woman at Thornfield. ...read more.

Conclusion

One reason that Jane's life improves when she gets older is because at Lowood she got an education and in later life that means she is on par with some people of higher class than she would without an education. Miss Temple's effect on Jane is one of a calming influence with helps Jane not to react to some of the cruel teachers. The physical aspects of Lowood are harsh as the mental torment that Jane's goes through. Some example of the harshness is the burnt porridge, long walks, cold rooms where the wind whistles through cracks, frocks and hair is not allowed to be curly and if it is it will cut off. 'The porridge is burned again.' This quote really shows how life at Lowood can actually be really physically harsh as well tough on Jane's mental health. When Jane moves on to Thornfield her stay there actually occupies a very large portion part of the novel Jane Eyre. Her stay at Thornfield is where love for the opposite takes place and she falls for Mr Rochester. Her love for Mr Rochester takes place against the mystery of Grace Poole and her connection to Mr Rochester. Unlike her stay at Gateshead she is allowed both a social position as a governess and respect member of the house her personal situation with Mr Rochester. Since Jane is a governess and is not of the higher class that Mr Rochester is from. She cannot appear to be involved with him but this only when outsiders arrive. This also represents that Jane is not rebelling against the hypocrisy with Mr Rochester because if she were then she would not observe the social hierarchy. Like all the places Jane has lived in so far Thornfield does supply the amount of freedom that Jane would like. She is still trapped in to certain degree and she longs for something more. She wants just a bit more freedom but she cannot get that at Thornfield at the time she is there. The only place in Thornfield ...read more.

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