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What influence does Jane Eyre's harsh Victorian upbringing have on her character and development?

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Introduction

What influence does Jane Eyre's harsh Victorian upbringing have on her character and development? Jane's early life experiences have a lasting effect on her developing personality and beliefs. Charlotte Bront� first introduces Jane as a vulnerable ten year old, orphaned girl who is pushed around and disrespected. This changes drastically during the course of the novel and ends with Jane being a happy, independent and respected woman. Jane Eyre is an autobiographical novel thought to reflect Charlotte Bront�'s life, written by an adult but from a child's perspective. As Jane is an orphan she lives with her aunt and cousins at Gateshead where she is treated as an inferior and unloved child. The readers learn that Jane is an intelligent young girl and enjoys reading as she spends most of her time alone sitting in a window seat with a book. Her older cousin John Reed physically abuses her, "He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in a week, nor once or twice in a day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him." Jane was ill-treated in the Gateshead household, not just physically by John Reed but emotionally and mentally too, she was not known as one of the family even though she was related; she was not even thought of as a servant, she was less than that, "you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep." ...read more.

Middle

"A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask" The use of mahogany and deep red adds to the dark feel of the room, making it seem more daunting in the eyes of a ten year old girl. The use of red and crimsons add to the chilling feel, making it look like everything is blood covered. "two large windows, with their blinds always drawn down" gives the impression that they do not want people seeing in to the room or there is something in there that should be kept in there and people should not know or experience it. Unluckily for Jane, she was locked in the room with whatever was being shut away from the rest of the world. The red-room was rarely entered, "The housemaid alone came here on Saturdays......and Mrs Reed ...at far intervals, visited it to review the contents of a certain drawer... where were stored ...her jewel casket, and a miniature of her deceased husband" The room was filled with death, caskets and blood coloured walls. "in those last words lies the secret of the red-room - the spell which kept it so lonely in spite of its grandeur" This gives the impression that the red-room is in some way magical or haunted in some way. "Mr Reed had been dead nine years: it was in this chamber that he breathed his last......since that day, a sense of dreary consecration ...read more.

Conclusion

Jayne's views on marriage are extremely clear in the novel, later in the book when she meets St John Rivers he also proposes to her but she declines as she will only marries for love and nothing else. Religion is also a major theme in the novel, Mr Brocklehurst, Helen Burns and St John Rivers all have separate, very different religious views. Mr Brocklehurst has a hypocritical view of religion and uses it to suit him when he wants to; Helen Burns has an extreme faith and wishes to be in heaven, "God waits only the separation of spirit from flesh to crown us with a full reward" St John Rivers also has an extreme faith but Jayne learns from these people and develops a tempered, true faith that is respected. Charlotte Bront� uses "Jayne Eyre" as an autobiographical book and makes Jayne the heroine, reflecting her life and her struggle to be a grown, respected woman. According to her family and Lowood, she was "destined for the workhouse" but she proved them all wrong and became an independent, loved, happy woman with a respectable home and family. She even went against the standard way of life of that time period, few women had financial independence, most lived off their husband's wages while keeping a good home for their family, Jayne still kept a good home filled with love and respect but she also gained what she had always wanted, happiness and independence. Jessie Furlong 10L Cand Number: 1058 Centre Number: 61211 1 ...read more.

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