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Jane Eyre’s childhood is a reflection of the Victorian era, children were to come across as innocent, virtuous and ignorant of intellectual opinion. However Jane’s early years lacked normal experiences primarily love necessary when growing up, resulting in a solitary and suffering child. Charlotte BrontÑ‘ focuses on the feelings of hurt during Jane’s childhood in the first 10 chapters as she ventures from Gateshead and into the unknown fighting for a better future.
From the beginning the audience has an insight to the emotions of the protagonist in the weather ‘the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds sombre and a rain so penetrating that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question’. This use of pathetic fallacy reflects her thoughts creating a sense of relief from the outcome of escaping the burden of her cousins. Her gratitude of the bad weather illustrates revulsion towards her cousins and the relationship they have. Nature imitates Jane’s life as a soulless black hole empty and miserable, ‘ceaseless rain’, similar to the cold and unwelcoming Reed family she must live with.
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In conjunction Ms Reed and Jane quarrel, pathetic fallacy impacts on the situation ‘wind howling in the grove’ shows her fear of the Red Room and the prospects to come. This effect is a subtle hint for the future providing the reader with a vague forecast of the emotions unknown to Jane and the rest of the characters in the novel. During her time at Gateshead her position as a prisoner becomes more pronounced ‘silver-white foliage veiling the panes as left room to look out’ enclosed and trapped in her suffering instead of being a respected and loved member of the family.
From an early age Jane has acknowledged her ‘physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed’ encouraged by Mrs Reed who resents her presence. The different classes are apparent by the different qualities they hold such as power, authority and wealth classing Jane at the bottom of the system. Along with this the Reed family exclude her from their daily lives, ‘clustered round their mama’ illustrates their close and loving relationship as a family. In addition they are gathered around the fireside symbolising warmth and love among them although looks can be deceptive, ‘looked perfectly happy’ is how the Reeds want to be perceived from afar. But in reality Mrs. Reed is a rich, pretentious and condescending woman, and her children are spoiled, cruel and rude. Bronte emphasizes Jane’s loneliness and lack of familial affection as a child helping the reader to understand how Jane progresses through her early years bounding on from strength to strength.
Jane seeks happiness in books that are beyond her understanding yet the pictures capture her in a fairytale far from reality. This is a form of escapism for Jane ‘protecting, but not separating me’ from the misery that is her life. Although she is engaged in another world it doesn’t make her oblivious to what is going on in reality proving she has an inquisitive and curious nature later supported by other situations. The only form of happiness she has encountered is with books, and she ‘feared nothing but interruption’ showing the simplicity of her happiness. She is dependent on the heartless Reed family but never on an equal level with her relatives. Jane detests being in the company of her cousins, ‘I trembled at the idea of being dragged forth’ but John soon reminds her that ‘you have no business to take our books, you are a dependent’ and a second class citizen again reinforcing the status superiority he has. John takes advantage of his position in the hierarchy system to mentally reinforce to Jane, that she is indebted to them and so has no right to intervene with their property. Throughout Charlotte Bronte emphasizes Jane’s sensitive nature and inner strength but she also displays courage and a sense of justice in her defense against John, ‘Wicked and cruel boy!’, ‘You are like a murderer- you are like a slave- driver- you are like the Roman emperors!’. She rebels against him for the first time and attacks him, giving the reader more insight to her thinking and her knowledge of the Roman emperors excels what a typical 10 year old would know. Her defiant nature and apparent strong-willed determination expresses her true opinions and emotions but by the end there is no one to support her and so John blames Jane for the fight, reflecting the isolation and loneliness of Jane’s life.
Mrs Reed becomes oblivious to John’s violent nature, to the contrary she encourages her children to treat Jane as an outsider and takes every opportunity to neglect and punish her ‘
Jane moves to Lowood she hopes her previous problems with equality and justice are alleviated although
Irony is a prominent feature during the start of spring at Lowood, whilst ‘greenness grew’ and ‘sweeter flowers opening’ Jane was beginning to see hope for her future, although reference to death ‘skeletons’ give the reader a clue of the near future. This subtle change of direction is an unexpected turning for the worst as Jane is beginning to feel freedom for the first time, ‘snows were melted’ relate to her escape of imprisonment from being ‘stiffened in frost’ to the less regimental life she now leads. As a result Jane has begun to realise there is life outside Lowood that consists of ‘pleasure’ and ‘enjoyment’. The strong emotional language she uses show her happiness with such simplicity and enliven her of ‘prospects’ to come.
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The start of spring means new life and a glimmer of hope for Jane conveyed through the use of pathetic fallacy ‘golden-eyed pansies’ as ‘greenness grew’ presenting a positive and fresh outcome for her, a clear contrast with her previous years at Lowood where she was ‘shrouded with snow’ imprisoned by the strict rules and regulations enforced upon her. This effect can also account for her future, nature is at its epitome and Jane will soon escape from a terminating illness transmitted around Lowood. This devastation will end many of the student’s lives but the long-term benefits will provide Jane with what she has always wanted as a result of overcoming this diversion.
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