Jane Eyre is a classic romance novel by Charlotte Bronte (in the first person) that was published in 1847; by Smith, Elder & Company, London. Charlotte Bronte first published the book as Jane Eyre: an Autobiography under the pseudonym Currer Bell. The protagonist and main character in this novel is ‘Jane Eyre’; orphaned at the mere age of one due to the death of both her parents, currently aged ten. When Jane was orphaned, her mother’s brother offered to take Jane in and care for her, he then died however before he died he made his wife ‘Mrs. Reed’ promise to look after Jane as if Jane was her own – she agreed.
Currently aged 10, Jane lives at Gateshead with: Mrs. Reed, Georgiana, Eliza and John Reed; whom all despise Jane and treat her with confounding cruelty especially John Reed – ‘he struck suddenly and strongly’ Jane feels like an outsider to her family environment `A heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed. ` Bessie chides Jane extensively more than her cousins, also the quote shows that the way Jane feels about herself has been largely influenced by the perception of the other family members.
In chapter one Jane had been excluded as a full family member. ` She really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy, little children. ` As a result Jane slipped in the breakfast-room that adjoined the drawing-room and possessed herself a book which she began to read; Bronte shows Jane’s character as very independent and mature for her age, it shows she has a mind of her own also it shows she does not give up and is not easily defeated.
During Victorian times children who were orphaned with no money, being at the mercy of their benefactors, usually looked at life as being a constant struggle as there were not many choices one could make to guarantee survival and were often seen as obligated to follow the orders of their benefactors; do as they were told and look up to the rest of the family because the orphan was now “dependent”. At the end of chapter 1 Jane tries to remain unnoticed in the drawing room reading on a rainy day, but John Reed, the fourteen-year-old son of Mrs.
Reed, soon finds her. Jane lives in terror of John, as he bullies and punishes her without end. John becomes angry that Jane is reading one of their books, and says that: she is a dependent there, has no money, and should not “live [there] with gentlemen’s children like [them]. ” John throws the book at Jane, causing her to fall and cut her head against the door. Jane then fights against him, and when Mrs. Reed enters the room she sends Jane to be locked in the red-room.
The “Red room” symbolizes Jane’s character – Bronte shows this in the form of pathetic fallacy; red is often used in conjunction with the themes of passion and fury, and the descriptions such as the ‘curtains of deep red damask’ mirror physically Jane’s passionate character. ‘I resisted’. Bronte uses first person narrative to convey Jane’s anger and defiance; Jane’s state of mind has changed because she is angry she is treated and viewed as a second class to the Reed household which makes her want to fight back/rebel.
The juxtaposition and metaphor of Bronte’s’ description of Jane as a ‘rebel slave’ shows the reader Jane is conscious of her rebellion, also it shows the reader and emphasizes the point Jane is rebelling her wrongful placement of a lower-class status to the rest of the Reed household. Although in the times of today this would seem unjust, in Victorian times, this is the way all orphans were treated especially and girls who had an even lower rank – but Jane was surprisingly, for an orphan, well educated and so had developed her own views on her difficult situation, thus enabling her to act accordingly.
Bronte’s use of the simile ‘she’s like a wild cat’ creates a vivid image of Jane’s behavior in the readers mind and also shows Jane’s excessively passionate character. ‘Master! How is he my master? Am I a servant? Bronte’s cluster of three and use of sequential rhetorical questions again shows how passionate Jane is about being seen as an equal in the Reed household. Bronte conveys Jane’s feeling’s of ignominy; ‘this preparation for bonds, and the additional ignominy it inferred, took a little of the excitement out of me.
‘ Jane’s state of mind has changed seeing the immense degree of humility it inferred and so made the decision to pull her behavior together in order to avoid being further extensively humiliated. During Victorian times many orphans were abused and publically disgraced. Bronte uses metaphors to convey Jane’s feelings of being trapped; the “Red Room” itself is described as: a ‘vault’, `chamber. ‘ The reason for Jane’s change in state of mind is due to Bronte’s use of these metaphors which gives the room prison like qualities which creates the element of being trapped.
Bronte’s strong use of imagery, colours, repetition and her use of pathetic fallacy of colours associated with red; ‘Mahogany’, ‘crimson’ and pink show Jane’s state of mind as angry at being locked in the “Red Room” on the other hand, Bronte’s use of the simile ‘like a pale throne’ suggests Bronte’s use of the simile `tiny phantoms` gives the scene a scary atmosphere and has a ghostly effect, also it sows the building accumulation of fear in Jane.
Bronte’s use of other similes such as; `half fairy` `half imp` implies the room had stimulated Jane’s imagination furthermore the mirror may symbolizes Jane’s inner self. During Victorian times they genuinely believed in super superstitions; during mourning a death mirrors were covered because of a lingering superstition that the spirit of the deceased could become trapped in the reflective glass – ` Superstition was with me at that moment`.
The metaphor `revolted slave` shows the reader Jane still feels to rebel despite her fears, also again Bronte refers to the theme of slavery, which shows yet again Jane feels trapped – she has no freedom, Jane does not want to be in the red room but has no choice. This was the case during Victorian times; orphans had no choice, no say in the matter, orphans had no free will. Jane’s education and knowledge provided her with a basis to understand her situation, and act impulsively which results in a revolt – a rebellion. Jane feels isolated; because she’s in so much shock she must think deeply, and gather her thoughts. `I was like nobody there`