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"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte

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Introduction

"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte traces the development of a girl from childhood at Gateshead to adulthood at Ferindean. We see Jane's lonely and traumatic life and we are made to feel sympathy for her. Bronte makes us feel sympathy for Jane throughout the novel by using a number of literary techniques, which is achieved by methods such as characterisation, narrative viewpoint, the Reed family, language and direct speech. We see and admire Jane's courage and her brilliant imagination. She is a likeable person because she maintains strength of character and rebellion throughout her suffering, which is unique for a woman at that period. We develop a closer relationship with Jane as the novel is written in the first person narrative. This is very important for creating sympathy for Jane as Jane pours out her thoughts and feelings so we know exactly what she is thinking and feeling. It gives us a greater insight into Jane's character and gives the story a sense of reliability and credibility as we believe what Jane tells us. Charlotte Bronte uses nature as a sympathetic background. The weather is miserable, cold and wet to reflect the cold, hostile atmosphere Jane encounters. "... the cold winter had brought with it clouds so sombre and a rain so penetrating." Right from the first few paragraphs it is made clear that Jane is an outsider and also humbled by the consciousness of her "physical inferiority to Eliza, John and Georgiana Reed." We see that Jane has been excluded from the family group and that her appearance contributes to her exclusion because she is not as attractive as the other children. ...read more.

Middle

Jane feels trapped and this leads her to wonder why she is treated so unjustly and what has she done to deserve this treatment. She said that she "strove to fulfil every duty" but was "termed naughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaking, from morning to noon and from noon to night." This evokes our sympathy for Jane as no matter what she does, it is never enough and she does try her best. Jane describes how she feels, but she does not moan about her treatment. She has only stated how she has been treated and how she feels about it. This furthers our sympathy because we see that at the time she believed that she was naughty. The intensity of her confusion exhausts her: "What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon! How all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in insurrection!" All this evokes sympathy for Jane. The intensity of Jane's thoughts and feelings drain her. Her very vivid imagination runs away with her as she thinks sees a ghost and she panics but she is trapped in the red-room. "My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears..... I was oppressed, suffocated: endurance broke down; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort." This shows us how oppressed Jane has felt during her childhood, which evokes sympathy for her. As the servants come to see what all the noise was Jane again appears to us as the innocent victim. ...read more.

Conclusion

When the Reeds are ill a physician is summoned. Mrs. Reed reminds Jane of her social position at every opportunity. Jane however takes comfort and feels safe when strangers are around "...someone was handling me; lifting me up and supporting me in a sitting posture: and that more tenderly than I had every been raised or upheld before. I rested my head against a pillow or arm, and felt easy" and Mr. Lloyd makes her feel at ease, "I felt so sheltered and befriended while he sat... as he closed the door after him all the room darkened and my heart again sank: inexpressible sadness weighed it down." We sympathise with Jane as her only friend is the apothecary and it shows how she aches for companionship. It is quite pathetic that Jane feels safe and secure when a stranger is near her and that she feels no security around her family. "I felt an inexpressible relief...I knew that there was a stranger in the room...an individual not belonging to Gateshead, and not related to Mrs Reed." Chapter 3 also shows how normally Jane is neglected in the house because here while she feels ill Bessie looks after her well and Jane describes the special treatment as "wonderful civility." We see that Jane is a polite, friendly child. "I pronounced his name, offering him at the same time my hand: he took it, smiling and saying, "We shall do very well by-and-by."" We can see here that Jane has good manners and is likeable. It also evokes our sympathy because she is only being treated well by a stranger and she is responding well. ...read more.

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