"Explore how Bronte uses setting to reflect the experiences of her characters".

Authors Avatar

English Coursework-Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre-English Coursework

        “Explore how Bronte uses setting to reflect the experiences of her characters”.

        Bronte describes every setting in “Jane Eyre” in a vast amount of detail, using a number of different language techniques, so as to portray the experiences of her characters, almost subconsciously, to the reader. She seeks also to convey  the moods of her characters, using methods such as pathetic fallacy and symbolism, in order to express their emotions indirectly. Bronte uses all of these methods, as well as  a number of scenes containing juxtaposition, and the overall structure of her writing style, consistently throughout the book, as she follows Jane through her life. Jane’s personal changes and experiences, at each stage in her life, and those of her fellow characters, are powerfully communicated to the reader.

        Bronte employs close descriptive detail in her portrayal of Gateshead which reflects Jane’s emotional turmoil. As well as this, she uses symbolism when setting the scene in the red room, in order to portray Jane’s feelings and mood to the reader. For example, she describes all of the red objects within the room: “ hung with curtains of deep red damask”, “ the carpet was red” and “ the table at the foot of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth”. These vivid, deep shades of red all are known to symbolise danger and blood, which usually tend to create a sense of fear, and consequently, this is one of the emotions Jane is inclined to feel. As well as this, she describes the furniture in such a way that it seems incomprehensibly gigantic and intimidating to Jane as, “ it was one of the largest and stateliest chambers”, “ massive pillars of mahogany”, “ shrouded in festoons” and “deep surrounding shades rose high”. Thus, the reader is given a sense of how small and frightened Jane feels in comparison to the elaborate grandeur of the room. However, Jane’s fiery self-belief is evident as she imagines  herself as a spirit from the supernatural in the mirror:

“the strange little figure there gazing at me with a white face and arms

specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else

was still, had the effect of a real spirit, I thought it like one of the tiny

phantoms, half fairy, half imp”

This suggests that her personal impression of herself  is one of a lonely and solitary girl, as creatures from the supernatural are often believed to be solemn, strange characters, who obviously do not fit in or connect normally with the real world. Furthermore, in order to portray Jane’s position mentally, Bronte emphasises the fact that Jane is trapped in the room with no escape route- a room that  to Jane is especially horrible, as it is where her uncle, Mr Reed, “ breathed his last”. Thus, this setting strongly reflects Jane’s own feelings that she is trapped inside a traumatic world in which she does not want to exist and which she  feels is suffocating her personality and rejecting her.

        We see again in Bronte’s setting of ”Lowood” how Jane’s character is unfolded to us. It is here that Jane finds sanctuary with Miss Temple. To reach the secret hideaway of Miss Temple’s room she must travel through an intricate, dark mass of paths and corridors, so that when she reaches the room it does  indeed seem like a hidden temple, or an oasis of some sort. The comforting atmosphere inside reflects Miss Temple’s temperament. Moreover, this also shows Jane’s need and want to be loved and to love others. As, she clings to the kind nature of Miss Temple as though she has never experienced this gentleness from another human being before in her life. The amount of pleasure Jane takes in seeking refuge in the room, shows how much enjoyment she draws from escaping from her world into another. This sense of otherworldliness in the room is accentuated by it’s furniture, as this creates a cosy and “cheerful” atmosphere. And the presence of a fire, comfortable furniture and the appealing nature of Miss Temple make it feel like somewhat of a cocoon to Jane. A good example of juxtaposition within “Lowood” is the contrast of the homely room of Miss Temple and the cold, unforgiving interior of the dorms. The setting of the dorms and the way in which Jane looks upon them with disdain, reflects Jane’s attitude towards Lowood and the people in it. However, the contrasting, welcoming atmosphere of Miss Temple’s room, shows the level of contentment she feels when she is in there in comparison to her feelings about the dorms.

Join now!

        Bronte’s use of strong  imagery continues in her portrayal of “Thornfield”, which reveals shades of character not openly apparent. For example, when Jane first meets Mr Rochester,  Bronte uses a number of subtle, descriptive language techniques in order to create the setting and atmosphere for Mr Rochester’s  first appearance. Jane tells us that,  “all sorts of fancies bright and dark tenanted my mind”, “I lingered till the sun went down amongst the trees and sank crimson and clear behind them”. The setting is unusual and unique, so, that makes it a more prominent and memorable meeting. It is as ...

This is a preview of the whole essay