Going Deeper Into The Life Of Jane Eyre - English 1302 - Research Paper

2381 words - 10 pages

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Sydney Quintero
Mrs. Boyd
AP English IV
27 November 2017
The Becoming of Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is what some would consider a feminist. She was a woman of the future. Jane
Eyre lived in Victorian time where women were not known for independence and individuality.
Jane sought out independence and individuality in her life and activities. She came of age and
found herself throughout the story. With every event that occurred in her life, it helped her to
become a woman and become the feminist she was by the end of the story. Jane Eyre was hero, a
feminist hero to the women in her day and age. Her maturity and journey that she went through
made her the hero and feminist she became.
Jane Eyre lived a very complicated life. Orphaned at a young age and forced to live with
her abusive aunt and cousins, Jane did not have a very happy or comfortable childhood. She later
was sent to Lowood School where she received equally as harsh conditions. Charlotte Brontë, the
author of the book Jane Eyre, “ … based Lowood School in her novel Jane Eyre on her
experiences” (UXL Biographies, par. 3). While at Lowood, she grew as a woman, learning
French and the basic educational skills. When the audiences first meet Jane, she is a child,
around 10 years old. Although she has good reason for it, she is a bit whiny and has some
attitude problems. However, once she gets to Lowood, she starts to become an adult and must
deal with situations and events that no child she should have to face. Jane sees that at Lowood,
the instructors do not put up with attitude. She must learn fast that the girls must hold their
tongues, remain proper and not speak unless spoken to. These rules that Jane had to abide by
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where the rules of every women during the Victorian time in which Jane Eyre is based. Her
psychological state also had a part in how she dealt with womanhood. There are “various
psychological implications intimated in Jane Eyre” (Tressler 5) that could cause maturity or the
feeling that the only way to survive was to grow up quicker that one would want. This maturity
that she gained while at Lowood was still not to its full peak. As her life would go on and as she
would journey to new places, she would have to act more like an adult but still, she kept a little
childlikeness in her drawings and the imagination she put into them.
After leaving Lowood, Jane travels to Thornfield, the estate of Edward Fairfax Rochester,
to be the governess of his ward Adèle. After being there for “three months” (Jane Eyre 00:36:33-
35), Jane then has the pleasure of meeting Mr. Rochester for the first time. From that moment on,
her life changed, and her journey got harder. Jane not only had to deal with the social standard of
society and the inability to live as freely as she would like but now she was trapped by another
thing, Mr. Rochester, his effect that he has on her and her feelings for her. These feelings cause
trouble in Thornfield, they cause trouble for Rochester but mostly for Jane. Being a governess,
she knows that she cannot have these feelings and she feels as if because she is a governess he
cannot have feelings for her. However, they are in love with each other and attempt to get
married until Jane finds out that Rochester is already married and has been hiding his mentally
unstable wife in Thornfield. This news put Jane into such a state of shock that she flees
Thornfield and embarks on her journey to forget Thornfield and its owner, find herself as a
woman and exert herself into society (Jane Eyre 1:34:40).
Her journey takes her to the home of a missionary, St. John. While living with St. John,
she finds a job teaching and starts her own life, living in her own home “free and honest” (Jane
Eyre 1:36:44). Everything she could have ever wanted. As much as it pained her to leave
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Thornfield and her love, Rochester, it did her good because it allowed her to fulfill her dreams
and view herself as the women she wished to be and the women that Rochester had seen. “In all
Jane Eyre's life, the pursuit of true love is an important representation of her struggle for self-
realization” (Gao 927). This journey helped her to see that she, even in the face of fear and
judgment, she could do anything that she was willing to work for. This realization that she was
able to come to helped her become the feminist and hero that the women of her time would have
wished to be. It is believed that Jane’s characteristics relate closely to her creator, the person that
had thought her up.
Ideology is the ideas and manner of thinking characteristic of a group, social class, or
individual. An audience sees Jane Eyre as a story that, “. . . both support and subvert ideology”
(Bossche, 48). Charlotte Brontë could be referred to as a feminist. It has been said that Jane
Eyre's character as well as others are based of Brontë and the people in her life. Her sister Martha
is thought to be “the inspiration for the character of Helen Burns, Jane's friend at Lowood” and
her married teacher from Belgium “inspired the character of Jane Eyre's employer, Edward
Fairfax Rochester” (UXL par. 2 & par. 4). Brontë lives her fantasy through Jane’s character.
During the time when Brontë first wrote Jane Eyre she was publishing under a man's name to
escape prejudice. Coming from what people thought was a man, it was easier for people except
the new and somewhat odd ideas of women being powerful, intelligent, and free and able. Jane
Eyre was new and exciting. She was the poster child for feminists even though she was a made-
up character. She showed that anyone, especially women could pursue her own interests and self
as well as love. Jane Eyre symbolized possibilities and hard work without losing self.
Bertha Antoinette Mason was a symbol too. She symbolized “the dangers of becoming a
passionate woman (a state which conclusively leads to madness) and the consequences for
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defying one's role within the household” (Mishou 255). Bertha Mason was the wife of Edward
Rochester for 15 years. Eleven of those years, she was locked up in a hidden room in Thornfield
because of her psychological state. She started having her fits and random outbursts of rage
within the fourth year of their marriage and instead of putting her into an institute her kept her in
the house. She would roam around the manor at night like a ghost. She was a ghost in a way, she
hunted Thornfield, trying to set fires. She symbolized destruction and chaos as well as the effects
of being a passionate woman, one who resisted the norm of what a wife should be. Bertha Mason
could also represent Janes internal fears. The fears of what could happen to her if she resisted the
social norms, if she expressed her ideas of being a feminist. Bertha Antoinetta Mason played a
part on Jane’s journey to self-discovery. She however, was not the only one. Many of her fellow
characters also impacted her life in some way, shape or form but her family, the Reeds really set
the tone for who Jane would become. The Reeds and the way they treated Jane shaped her into
the woman that she became
Starting with Jane's cousin John Reed, he tormented Jane in their youth. The movie starts
with Jane hidding from John Reed. When he finds her, the first thing he does is insult her by
calling her, “rat” (Jane Eyre 00:6:12) and then hits her over the head with a book causing her to
bleed (Jane Eyre 00:6:15). At this, Jane gets agitated and attacks John Reed. Jane is blamed for
this incident even though John Reed was the one who provoked it. Her punishment was to be
locked up in a room that was considered haunted. This one incident, although it could have been
the the first or the fifth the audience sees it as a pivotal moment because it references her fear of
“ghosts” and foreshadows towards other incidents with “ghosts”. Mrs. Reed also treats Jane
terribly but in a different way. She tormented Jane with mostly back handed comments and
subtle insults, by sending her to Lowood. An all-girls school where the teachers were told she
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was a terrible child who needed “a strict eye on her” because she had a “heart of spite” (Jane
Eyre 00:8:55-57). Mrs. Reed lies about Jane's character and later about the status of Janes health.
It was a horrible thing to send Jane away to a strict and improperly managed school, but Mrs.
Reed later receives a letter from Janes uncle, John Eyre of Medira. He notions towards the fact
that, as Jane is his only relative, he wishes to make her the inheritor of his estate once he passes
and that he would like to adopt her for the time being. Mrs. Reed writes back to John Eyre lying
and saying that Jane had passed at Lowood School. It Mrs. Reed would have told Jane about her
uncle when she first received the letter, Janes life would have been completely different. She
never would have become a governess, she never would have met Rochester and she had the
slight possibility of never reaching her full potential in becoming the feminist and women she
ended up as. Although Mrs. Reed altered Janes life in the slightest, Jane was still able to inherit
the money because, in Mrs. Reeds one good act, she told Jane about the letter and Jane was able
to write her uncle and correct the error. However, if Jane had not been delayed in meeting her
uncle she would have taken the inheritance and lived her life alone. Because she meets St. John
and his sisters, before and they had taken her in kindly, Jane was much humbler with the money.
Again, the Reed family, not always kind, did help Jane in a way. By them treating her so ill, she
was able to discover herself by herself. Jane Eyre’s life was not all butterflies and rainbows. She
dealt with a lot of setbacks.
Jane lived a tough life but without her misfortunate situations Jane would not have
thrived the way she did. She took a terrible home life with a grain of salt. While with the Reeds
she grew to not let people’s rudeness get to her while still holding her young to prevent further
punishment. Her time at Lowood gave her an education that took her to Thornfield. At Lowood
she learned to speak French, a language spoken by the girl she would come to govern. If Jane
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would have not been sent to Lowood as a child, she would not have been given the opportunity
to work for and fall in love with Rochester and she would not have been taught that women are
strong. Jane lost a friend in Lowood as a child. This loss taught her to fight and be strong against
the effects of the world. Going to Thornfield and being put in the position of governess to
Rochester’s ward, Adéle showed her the ways to have more patients and to also have a sense of
fun. Fun that Jane never experienced during childhood. Teaching Adéle allowed Jane to not only
the opportunity to teach, but to also tell stories, play games and enjoy some of the little things in
life. Thornfield sadly informed her that not everything is what it seems, and love is not always on
a person's side. Jane’s stay with St. John and his sisters enlightened Jane in the possibility of
happiness, family, and acceptance. St. John took Jane in, he and his sisters cared for Jane like a
sister, they showed her the family love that she has never experienced before. St. John was also
able to find Jae work and helped her in taking her steps towards the freedom that she had always
been searching for. The situations that Jane was put in, bad good or awkward all have Jane a
perspective on how life should and should not be lived. They gave her the power and steps she
needed that would help her grow into the powerful, heroic feminist that audiences and spectators
see her as.
Jane Eyre lived a difficult life. The movie Jane Eyre relays the events and situations that
she is put into. Jane allowed these situations that were mostly bad and used them for good. She
allowed them to morph her into a feminist, a hero, and an overall powerful woman. She lived a
tough life and the movie helps us get a picture of how the events fell into place. The audience
was able to experience Janes emotions and the treatments she had to go through. They watched
as Jane became a strong, independent, feminist woman. She was an influential woman that girls
not only in her time own time but in the present and for future generations to come. The movie
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Jane Eyre gives people the chance to go in depth into the making of a strong woman and
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Works Cited
Bossche, Chris R. Vanden. "What did Jane Eyre do? Ideology, agency, class and the novel."
Narrative, vol. 13, no. 1, 2005, p. 46+. General OneFile,
62437&it=r&asid=d9a634018f228c8d433d7ea4919db8f2. Accessed 1 Nov. 2017
Gao, Haiyan. "Reflection on feminism in Jane Eyre." Theory and Practice in Language Studies,
vol. 3, no. 6, 2013, p. 926+. PowerSearch,
78063&it=r. Accessed 31 Oct. 2017.
Mishou, Aubrey L. "Surviving Thornfield: Jane Eyre and nineteenth-century evolutionary
theory." Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, vol. 66, no. 4, 2014, p. 255+.
98872&it=r. Accessed 31 Oct. 2017.
"Charlotte Brontë." UXL Biographies, UXL, 2011. Student Resources in Context,
8100314&it=r&asid=3943456e5616e8693d21a7406e91b883. Accessed 3 Nov. 2017.
Jane Eyre. Directed by Cary Fukunaga, performances by Michael Fassbender and Mia
Wasikowska, Universal Pictures, 2011

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