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Title: What does Bronte wish us to understand about early 19th century society from our reading of the first ten chapters of "Jane Eyre"?

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Introduction

Pre 1914 Prose Jane Eyre Title: What does Bronte wish us to understand about early 19th century society from our reading of the first ten chapters of "Jane Eyre"? In the early chapters, Bronte establishes the young Jane's character through her confrontations with John and Mrs. Reed, in which Jane's good-hearted but strong-willed determination and integrity become apparent. These chapters also establish the novel's mood. Jane is an invented character but there was such a thing as mis-treated children. One type of abuse was the abuse directed to Jane by the Reed family. Jane's' aunt makes her life a misery. Jane is starved of love and affection. Mrs Reed finds fault with Jane because she wasn't a content child. Jane says, " She really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy little children." Mrs Reed gives an unbelievable amount of cruel treatment to Jane; for example, Mrs Reed has a new set of rules exclusively for Jane. John Reed is a child that behaves in an abusive way. No adult in the household stopped John's behaviour. "He called his mother 'old girl'...reviled her for her dark skin... and he was still 'her own darling'." John vandalized the place; insulted and disrespected his mother despite this; he was still her own darling. John steps out of line, and is despicably behaved. "John Reed...large and stout for his age...with flabby cheeks. He ought to have been at school; but his mamma had taken him home for a month or two, 'on account of his delicate health'." ...read more.

Middle

Abbot was the lady's maid therefore she was constantly taking orders from Mrs Reed as well as hearing what she has to say concerning Jane. Bessie also shows kindness to Jane, she would tuck her up in bed and kiss her and sometimes she would bring her up something to eat. Servants picked up the bad attitudes from Mrs Reed who always criticises Jane. "If you don't sit still, you must be tied down," said Abbot. This is an act you do to a criminal not to a innocent 10 year old girl. "You ought to be aware, miss, that you are under obligations to Mrs Reed: she keeps you; if she were to return you off you would have to go to the Poorhouse." Bessie means this kindly; she does not want to see it happen. Jane is classed lower than a servant. Servants work for a living. Servants think Mrs Reed is very kind to Jane. As a penniless orphan forced to live on the charity of others, Jane is a kind of second-class citizen. In some ways she is below even the servants, who certainly have no obligation to treat her respectfully. Jane thinks of poverty as synonymous with degradation. Jane has been taught that being poor is a terrible thing. She doesn't realise there is respectable poverty. A total different aspect of abuse is the abuse all the girls suffered at Lowood. At Gatesead Jane is the only one suffering, at Lowood she doesn't feel alone. ...read more.

Conclusion

privations and humiliations, like when he orders that the naturally curly hair of one of Jane's classmates be cut so as to lie straight, is entirely un-Christian. Of course, Brocklehurst's proscriptions are difficult to follow, and his hypocritical support of his own luxuriously wealthy family at the expense of the Lowood students shows Bronte's wariness of the Evangelical movement. Helen Burns's humble and forbearing mode of Christianity, on the other hand, is too passive for Jane to adopt as her own, although she loves and admires Helen for it. The most important thematic elements in this section are the contrasting modes of religious thought represented by Mr. Brocklehurst and Helen Burns. The angelic Helen Burns and her doctrine of endurance represent a religious position that contrasts with Mr. Brocklehurst's. Utterly passive and accepting of any abjection, Helen embodies rather than preaches the Christian ideas of love and forgiveness. But neither form of religion satisfies Jane, who, because of her strong sensitivity to indignities and injustices, reviles Brocklehurst's shallow devotional displays and fails to understand Helen Burns's passivity. As Jane herself declares: "when we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard . . . so as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again". Helen's doctrine of endurance and love is incompatible with Jane's belief in fairness and self-respect. In Bronte's time, Evangelicalism had becomes inextricably bound up with social class and often involved those with social status dictating how social inferiors should behave. Rifki Schachter Year 10 ...read more.

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