Bronte makes Jane’s childhood very vivid to the reader. Childhood is an important stage of any person’s life, it prepares them for adulthood. Jane’s childhood comprises only one sixth of the book yet it is the most important part. We learn how her hopes and fears take over her mind. Jane is treated unfairly by her Aunt Reed and bullied by her cousin John. Jane’s fears have an impact on the reader, who feels sympathy towards her and hope that her life will be better.
As it is a Victorian novel we expect the good and innocent to be rewarded and the evil characters to be punished by the end of the story.
Hope sustains her and she has row with her aunt and leaves to go to school. This is her dream of a hope. In the 19th Century children did not have the protection of the social services or NSPCC. Some children were treated badly and were given no respect.
Jane is a strong person and this makes her a confident woman later on in the novel. Jane’s life in the Reed’s house is upsetting for the reader, because of the way she is treated. John Reed particularly mistreats her, and this can be seen throughout the chapters. It is made clear to the reader when they have an argument, and Jane says, “You are like a murderer”.
Bronte’s use of simile at this point is effective as it creates emphasis on the idea that Jane feels such hatred towards her cousin that she sees him as a “murderer”.
The idea of them not getting along can be previously be seen at the start of the story when Jane seems left out when they were all in the drawing room, and she was sitting away from the others. Bronte wants us to have a connection with Jane even though we are in different centuries. This is one of Bronte’s devices to make us think that all the characters are real. She also does this by showing hopes and fears in Jane’s life.
When Jane enters the ‘red room’ her imagination starts to take over. Bronte shows Jane’s fear by using objects of dark colours such as ‘massive pillars’, ‘Red carpet’, ‘deep red damask,’ and ‘blinds drawn down’. Dark objects make the room very gloomy and fearful. This shows that the ‘red room’ has a very powerful effect on Jane. The dark colours come alive and scare her through her imagination. The difference in size of the objects in the ‘red room’ also make Jane fearful, ‘massive pillars’, ‘largest chamber’ and ‘two large windows’. These objects are very big compared to Jane ad make it frightful for her.
Mrs. Reed puts her in there as a punishment knowing that Jane is terrified of the room, because her uncle died there when she was younger, for this reason it gives Jane feelings of anxiety and fear. On the bed that she is supposed to sleep on. She fears that she’s her uncle’s ghost. In the 19th Century it was customary for the body remain in the house for few days before the funeral, allowing family and friends to pay their respects. Bronte uses listing to describe Jane’s fear and feelings effectively for example ‘Agitation’, ‘Uncertainty’, and ‘terror’.
Bronte presents Jane’s anger by having Jane shout at Mrs. Reed. ‘I am not deceitful: ‘I do not love you’. This tells the reader that Jane expresses her feelings, and she is a bold character who tells the truth we can respect her for this. Mrs. Reed is scared by Jane’s outburst of her anger. She tries to calm Jane down ‘There’s a dear – lie down a little’. In the 19th Century children were supposed to be seen and not heard. Mrs. Reed was very surprised as children were not allowed to talk the way Jane had spoken to Mrs. Reed and she did not now how to react towards her.
Luckily for the readers we see hope in Jane when she meets Mr. Lloyd, who is an apothecary. An apothecary is known as a pharmacist, whereas in the 19th Century they were known also as doctors for lower class people in the 19th Century Jane got an apothecary because Mrs. Reed did not want Jane to have a doctor; she wanted to treat Jane like a servant. He is a believable character since people in the 21st Century go to the doctors for personal health and advice. When Jane met Mr. Lloyd, she was happy because she had hope in him and she could talk to him like a friend. Of Mr. Reeds ghost’, ‘Nonsense’ he says. Bronte uses dialogue to show the connection of friendship between Jane and Mr. Lloyd. Not only is it showing friendship it also shows trust. Jane can tell Mr. Lloyd her problems and he is happy to help her. Jane also has Bessie as a friend. Bessie helps her to get better when she was ill. Jane could relate to Bessie because she knew how mean Mrs Reed could be. Bessie and Mr. Lloyd feared for Jane’s future. ‘In the 19th Century child poverty was very serious due to the fact they had a fight for food and to stay alive.
Diseases also used to spread easily due to poor hygiene. Mr. Lloyd encourages Jane to go to school where she meets Mr. Brocklehurst who is the headmaster of Lowood. The reader sees this as hope for Jane’s future. Bronte describes Mr. Brocklehurst as a ‘Black pillar’, ‘Harsh, and prim’ and ‘Grim faced’. Bronte describes him from Jane’s view, using metaphors and listings like the above examples. Mr. Brocklehurst is not a ‘Pillar’, but he is tall. She is small and very imaginative, so the description of him from Jane’s view is scary and exaggerated.
Bronte makes him a believable character because he is a strict headmaster of a boarding school. Most boarding school headmasters are strict even in modern schools. Bronte shows Jane settling into Lowood School from Gateshead really well. This is because Jane did not like Gateshead and preferred Lowood School. Mr. Brocklehurst calls himself a strict ‘Christian’, but in reality he is not, because he is unfair to the children in Lowood School, whereas he is nice to his own children and buys them rich and expensive clothes, and yet he does not spend a single penny on the children at Lowood School.
He keeps the school in bad conditions, this can be seen, as the children get ill quickly because of the poor conditions, he does not use money to help them. He is a hypocrite. Jane does not take advice from people she does not like or who are strangers. She likes to do things her own way. Because of this, Mr Brocklehurst take against her by punishing her severely got the slightest thing. ‘Deceit is, indeed, a sad fault in a child’. He is saying that there is something wrong with her. The first day for Jane in Lowood was quite interesting, because she had never gone to school before.
The first place she went was the refectory also known as a canteen. Before she eats in there, they have to say grace. In the 19th Century praying before you ate was very important to religious people, because it is saying thank you God. ‘The porridge is burnt again! ‘ Bronte adds to show how schools were like prison in the 19th Century. Lowood is based on the school Bronte and her four sisters attended when they were young. It was called Cowan Bridge School, a dreadful place where conditions were poor, beatings are regular and diseases are common.
Two of her sisters died there, Maria and Elizabeth. Bronte in this novel wished to explore such schools and have them closed down like Cowan Bridge was. Bronte wants to show the reader the contrast between Mr. Brocklehurst and Miss Temple. Mr. Brocklehurst thought that Jane was deceitful and told everybody in the school, however Miss Temple did not share Mr. Brocklehurst’s views ‘Defend yourself to me’. Miss Temple gives Jane a chance to explain what has really happened. This shows that Miss Temple believes in Jane and wants to give her a chance to clear her name.
The first time Jane meets Miss Temple she likes her straight away, because she is not like Mr. Brocklehurst who is horrible. ‘I have ordered bread and cheese. ‘ She ordered bread and cheese because the children had nothing to eat as the porridge was burnt. Miss Temple cares about the children in Lowood, unlike Mr. Brocklehurst. Bronte contrasts Mr. Brocklehurst and Miss Temple because she wants the reader to now that not everybody is horrible to Jane and that she has some friends like Helen Burns and Mr. Lloyd. Jane meets Helens Burns during break time.
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She was reading a book that interested Jane because she loves to read books. Bronte uses dialogue between Jane and Helen, ‘What is it about? ‘ ‘You may look at it’. This is the first time Jane meets a friend who share’s the same interest as her and someone who is her age. During lesson time, Miss Scratcherd was picking on Helen. Her name suggests how irritable she is. Helen got in trouble. ‘Burns returned to class carrying a bundle of twigs’. Children in the 19th Century used to get caned every time they did something wrong or when they were naughty. Jane gets angry because there was no need for Helen to get punished. 9th Century schools could be extremely unfair; many parents did not care if teacher’s punished their children for no reason, as they simply did not know as they went to boarding school, also some children did not have parents like Jane. Every one Jane was close to died. Her parents died, her uncle died and Helen died.
As a reader I felt sorry for her. She probably thought that she was the reason everyone died. Helen died from typhus; she was not the only child in Lowood School to die. Helen and Jane could relate to each other because they did not have anyone else to love them. I feared to find death’. Bronte creates tension by talking about Helen’s death; the readers are agitated because they want to now if she is going to die. Overall I think that Bronte presents Jane’s hopes and fears really well. This is because she makes the reader think they are part of the book ad that the characters are real, as well as sharing Jane’s emotion. The reader can relate to Jane’s life because Bronte conveys the 19th Century really well to the 21st Century readers. We see our lives are much better than Jane’s but we are reminded, also that you should always be strong inside.
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