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Show the importance of four women to Jane Eyre's development, and discuss the ideas aobut women and womanhood that the five characters suggest to you

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Introduction

Sherelle Oliffe Yr. R.11 FOUR PEOPLE WHO ARE SIGNIFICANT IN JANE EYRE'S EARLY LIFE ARE MRS.REED, BESSIE, MISS TEMPLE AND HELEN BURNS. SHOW THE IMPORTANCE OF EACH TO JANE'S DEVELOPMENT, AND DISCUSS THE IDEAS ABOUT WOMEN AND WOMANHOOD THAT THE FIVE CHARACTERS SUGGEST T0 YOU. The four people who played a significant part in Jane Eyre's early life whilst also influencing the development of her character, were Mrs. Reed, Bessie, Miss Temple and Helen Burns. All four of these women had strong beliefs about how women should behave, in addition to possessing a deep rooted passion for their own religious beliefs. This essay will discuss how each of these women shaped the person that Jane Eyre became. Initially, I will be looking at Mrs Reed who is Jane's aunt through marriage and discussing how significant she was to Jane's early life. Mrs. Reed had responsibility for Jane, as sole carer, a role that neither Jane nor Mrs. Reed were happy with. Their relationship was one of hatred and general dislike on both parts. Indeed, Mrs. Reed so disliked Jane, even from a young age that she treated her worse than one of the servants of the house. It was not that she did not like children, as she had several of her own to whom she showed great love and affection. However, so acute was the resentment that she held for Jane that she frequently separated her from the activities planned for her own children, declaring that they were; "intended only for contented, happy little children". ...read more.

Middle

This brings us to the next significant influence in Jane Eyre's life. Bessie was a servant at Mrs. Reed's house in Gateshead Hall and was the first person who showed Jane real love and friendship. She was prone to giving Jane treats and creating songs about her, such as; "Poor Miss Jane is to be pitied". On the night that Jane was locked in the Red Room having her "species fit", it was Bessie who was at her side, making sure that the young girl was alright and ensuring that she had something "to drink, or eat", taking care of her needs. For Bessie was of the opinion that Mrs Reed was far too hard on the young girl and thus had great sympathy for Miss Eyre. This can be seen when Bessie helps to prepare Jane for her departure to attend school at Lowood. Bessie has tea with the young Miss. Eyre in the absence of Mrs. Reed and the children, grabbing the opportunity to tell Jane that she was fonder of her "than all the others". Despite that fact that Bessie was only a servant, she teaches Jane to become a strong woman who should not settle for anything less than honesty and commitment. It is also through Bessie's eyes that Jane sees the purer side of God's love, as Bessie was also a strong Christian who tried to let Jane see that she lived her life according to his word, which is what brought her inner peace. ...read more.

Conclusion

Indeed, many of their conversations ultimately referred back to God in some way or another, no-matter from where the discussion had originated. Jane rarely argued with Helen's religious convictions as she was in fact in complete awe of her; "I was struck with wonder". Even when discussing death, Helen had "an impression of woe". Helen's deeply rooted religious beliefs made her unafraid of the inevitable, as she knew that the end of this life on earth was not the end of the story. Helen firmly believed in an eternal afterlife in Heaven which was difficult for Jane to understand and come to terms with. Jane knew that when her friend died, she would mourn her loss as she loved her so much, but she knew that Helen would not have wanted this, as it was against God's will. Nonetheless, the conflict within religion, supplied by the major influences in Jane's early life, shaped the woman who she became. The vengeful and fearful 'Almighty', espoused by Mrs. Reed, was to be rejected but the more caring, loving and forgiving God that was evident in Bessie, Miss. Temple and Helen certainly played a part in a blossoming Jane Eyre, who grew to be a bright, outspoken, and bold woman. Although not filled with religious conviction herself, Jane admitted to the significant influence that these women who did believe, had played in shaping who she had grown to be in adulthood. (word count: 1817) 1 ...read more.

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