Analyse the presentation of Jane in Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 10 July 2017

Analyse the presentation of Jane in Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’

How is Jane presented in Charlotte Bront�’s ‘Jane Eyre’?

Charlotte Bront� presents Jane in three different sections of her life that run through from childhood at her aunt’s house to her adult life at Thornfield. The presentation of Jane’s personality and looks is shown both through her own narration as well as the dialogue between the characters.

The first section of Jane’s life is at Gateshead, her aunt’s house, and she is presented as a child who is ‘but ten’ and who is plain enough to be described as ‘a little toad’ by one of the house servants. After her parents’ untimely death Jane was forced to live with relatives, which she did not mind until her uncle died too. After that she was treated with contempt by her aunt and cousins Eliza and Georgiana and her cousin John was a bully, he ‘struck suddenly and strongly’.

The unkindness Jane experiences causes her to have a burning sense of injustice from that point and it begins with her fighting back against John by calling him a ‘wicked and cruel boy’. Her aunt’s contempt for Jane however, may be because she refuses to ingratiate herself to her aunts wishes, which could be construed as Jane possibly being proud; Mrs Reed says that Jane should ‘acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition. A more attractive and sprightly manner’ but Jane feels she should be accepted for who she is and not to have to play up to her aunt’s wishes, no matter what the consequences. As a result her aunt feels she is a child with a ‘tendency to deceit’ and tends to punish her for it.

Jane is shown to be a very literary child; she takes comfort in reading or looking at books and she uses language like ‘ships becalmed on a torpid sea’ which for a ten year old, even at that time, is rather impressive. Though it must be taken into account that by the time Jane tells the story she is probably in her thirties or forties and so the language may not be exactly that which the ten year old Jane would have actually used. The books she reads feed her already vibrant imagination which lead her to believe that things like a light flashing past the window was ‘a herald of some coming vision from another world’, that the blood she could hear rushing through her ears was ‘the rushing of wings’ and she felt that ‘something neared me’.

Had her imagination not been quite so vivid she could probably have thought it through and seen that there was a rational explanation for these phenomenon, for Jane seems to have good judgement. She certainly seems to have a talent of being able to analyse people’s character’s well. While Jane is in the red room she is thinking over why she is so poorly treated although she had done nothing wrong and the reader sees her analyse each of her cousins: Eliza is ‘headstrong and selfish’ and Georgiana has ‘a spoiled temper, a very acrid spite, a captious and insolent carriage’. This is an analysis the reader may feel inclined to agree with because that is how the cousins have been portrayed from the start however it is worth remembering that as Jane is the narrator there may be a certain bias against them.

The next section in which Jane is presented is during her time at Lowood Institution particularly the first few months of her stay there. Jane is presented as still having a burning sense of injustice as she sees some of things that happen to girls who are ‘punished’ and from the reader’s perspective one can see why. The girls are unfairly punished and usually for things that are not even their fault, as was the plight of Julia Severn, whose ‘hair curls naturally’ was ordered to have her hair ‘cut off’. Jane having been ‘wrongly accused’ when she was called a ‘liar’, had curled up on the floor and her ‘tears watered the boards’. Jane could not take being accused falsely due to all the trouble it caused her at her aunt’s house and so she keeps grudges against that do wrongly accuse her.

Though it may have been seen previously in the section at Gateshead, the reader sees it more clearly during her times at Lowood that Jane could be considered stubborn. There are many times when Helen Burns tries to change Jane’s mind about things that have mostly to do with religion. The first time the reader sees this is when Helen tells Jane that ‘if all the world hated you’ but ‘your own conscience approved you’ then she would not be ‘without friends’, but Jane determinedly states ‘I know I should think well of myself; but that is not enough: if others don’t love me, I would rather die than live’. This also shows a dependant need, in Jane, to be liked by all she meets and a very melodramatic side to her that the reader rarely sees.

The last important way the Jane is presented in in this section is as a very bright and hard working girl. On her first day she had ‘reached the head of my class’ and she tells the reader that she ‘toiled hard’ and ‘in a few weeks I was promoted to a higher class: in less than two months I was allowed to commence French and drawing’. This shows that Jane enjoys school and is willing to work hard to improve and become the best she can be.

The third section in which Jane is presented commences eight years later when she accepts the job of becoming a governess at Thornfield Hall. As the reader has seen before, Charlotte Bront� seems to determined to emphasise the fact that Jane is a plain girl as she explain to her employer Mr. Rochester when she tells him that she is his ‘plain, Quakerish governess’.

She is also presented as being a very respectful and polite employee of Mr. Rochester as she always calls him ‘sir’, even when they are engaged, and she seems to take some sort of joy in it as she has rarely been able to respect many people as she feels respect must be earned. She also has enough respect for him to tell him the truth to any question he asks her, even if it were not something one would usually ask at the time, and is wonderfully shown when she tells that ‘wherever you are is my home – my only home’. This was a very forward statement but Jane felt that Mr Rochester ought to know it so she told him.

During the time in which Rochester has the party of guests at Thornfield and they are playing Charades, Jane is shown as having the concept of self worth. She sees these fine women and how they act but does not become jealous of their wealth or beauty. Instead she felt a sort of pity for them because though Blanche Ingram ‘was very showy’ she ‘was not genuine’, ‘she had a fine person’ ‘but her mind was poor’, ‘she was not good; she was not original’ and there are many more ways in which Jane describes Blanche Ingram. Jane feels that because of all this ‘Miss Ingram was a mark beneath jealousy: she was too inferior to excite the feeling.’ This not only states that she has self worth and does not feel that she should put herself down by thinking of Miss Ingram because of Blanche’s less than lovely qualities, it also shows a sense of pride in Jane. She feels proud to be who she is and would not want to be like Blanche Ingram if it meant not being very intellectual.

Jane is presented as a passionate girl through the entire story and we see it again in this section. Just before Rochester proposes to Jane, he talks to her about her leaving to go to Ireland for a new governess situation, but Jane feels like her heart is breaking at the thought of leaving him. In a passionate burst, she declares ‘Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? – You think wrong!’ but she does not stop there. She goes on to tell Rochester in an abstract way that she loves him by saying ‘And if God had gifted me with some beauty, and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you’.

Her passionate nature, most likely, came from her want to be treated as an equal, and though she is no social equal to Mr Rochester she feel that she is his equal in intellect and feels down trodden when she is not treated as such. In the same passionate outburst as shown above she also exclaims ‘it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal – as we are!’ This shows her need to be treated as an equal by the one she loves.

Jane is presented as a girl who grows up being passionate about being treated equally and having a burning sense of injustice when people are wrongly accused or punished without cause. She is described as being a plain girl her whole life who is very smart, literary, hard working and imaginative. This is shown through the narration as well as through the dialogue between character.

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