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Jane Eyre Character Journey

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ellabella123
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The protagonist and narrator of the novel, Jane is an intelligent, honest, plain-featured young girl forced to contend with oppression, inequality, and hardship. Although she meets with a series of individuals who threaten her autonomy, Jane repeatedly succeeds at asserting herself and maintains her principles of justice, human dignity, and morality. She also values intellectual and emotional fulfillment. Her strong belief in gender and social equality challenges the Victorian prejudices against women and the poor. The development of Jane Eyre’s character is central to the novel. From the beginning, Jane possesses a sense of her self-worth and dignity, a commitment to justice and principle, a trust in God, and a passionate disposition. Her integrity is continually tested over the course of the novel, and Jane must learn to balance the frequently conflicting aspects of herself so as to find contentment. An orphan since early childhood, Jane feels exiled and ostracized at the beginning of the novel, and the cruel treatment she receives from her Aunt Reed and her cousins only exacerbates her feeling of alienation. Afraid that she will never find a true sense of home or community. In her search for freedom, Jane also struggles with the question of what type of freedom she wants. While Rochester initially offers Jane a chance to liberate her passions, Jane comes to realize that such freedom could also mean enslavement—by living as Rochester’s mistress, she would be sacrificing her dignity and integrity for the sake of her feelings.

When Jane leaves Gateshead, having suffered both physical and emotional abuse from Mrs Reed and her children as well as almost total isolation, Bronte uses the word severed’ in relation to Bessie, who had been the only person who had shown her any kindness at Gateshead. This implies sadness on the part of Jane, instead of the expected elation of leaving her abusers behind.
Bronte also uses the phrases whirled away to unknown’ and remote and mysterious regions’ to describe Jane’s limited view of the world. She feels that the journey is of preternatural length’ because she has been given no idea of how long it will take, or where she is going geographically and does not look forward to the journey. She is only ten years old, and once she arrives at Lowood, she is bewildered’ by the motion and noise of a new place.
At eighteen, Jane is more independent, and busies herself with preparations’ to go to Thornfield, in direct contrast to the last journey, where everything was arranged for her and she had little interest in proceedings.
She is forward looking but lacks confidence, and Bessie’s comment that she was no beauty as a child’ hurts her deeply. Her insecurity is shown by the secretive way she goes about advertising herself in the paper and finding out if she has had any replies to it. Once she gets the reply, and has to tell others about taking the post, she is haunted’ by a private fear’ that by doing something herself she will get into some scrape’ or cause trouble. She is worried about making a fool of herself, as she wants to be respectable’ and proper’. She imagines how Mrs Fairfax is the model of elderly English respectability’ and thinks that having an old lady no bad ingredient’ in her plans, because she feels she can learn a lot from her.
Her lack of confidence is also made clear by Bronte, when Jane arrives at Millcote. She makes the same reference to warming numbed hands by the fire as she did when Jane arrived at Lowood. Jane is alone again, unable to go back and yet not sure she can move forward, and she is subject to doubts and fears’.
On her way to Thornfield, Jane reflects on her past and realizes that she no longer has to put up with abuse. This realization that if Mrs Fairfax turns out to be another Mrs Reed, she can just re-advertise and get out of the situation is comforting to Jane, and the kindness she receives from Mrs Fairfax on her arrival is more than she expected.…...

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