In my essay I am going to analyse the methods Charlotte Bronte uses to make the reader empathise with Jane Eyre in the opening chapters of the novel. ‘Jane Eyre’ was written by a female named Charlotte Bronte and was published in 1847, but used a male name, ‘Currer Bell’. In the section of the book; ‘Charlotte Bronte’s life’ it says, ‘it was difficult for anyone to have a book published it was next-to-impossible for a woman.
The novel is about a typical poor girl of whose her parents have died, leaving her to live with her Aunt Reed, creating much empathy from the reader towards Jane Eyre. The story is based on charlotte Bronte’s life as a child, as she was brought up by her Aunt, due to her mother dying whilst charlotte Bronte was very young and her two sisters also died, and she was in very poor health. In my essay I will also analyse language devices like emotive nouns, verbs and adjectives and how they sway the readers emotions.
The novel opens with Jane Eyre persuading the reader to like her. In the opening paragraph of the story ‘Jane Eyre’, Charlotte Bronte already uses words which give a negative atmosphere, as she says ‘wandering indeed of the leafless shrubbery’ also the word ‘wandering’ could be associated with being lost. Charlotte Bronte also uses pathetic fallacy in the opening paragraph of the novel, as Jane Eyre says ‘rain so penetrating’, the rain can’t really go through you, it’s not really going through Jane.
Charlotte Bronte uses emotive verbs, nouns and adjectives to help sway the readers emotions because it makes them feel empathy for Jane, makes the novel interesting and makes the reader want to read on. In the second paragraph of the novel Jane Eyre says ‘and with her darlings about her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying)’ the word darling gives a sarcastic, more emotional impression, and ‘her darlings’ shows Jane’s jealousy towards them and how she doesn’t feel wanted in the family and is treated as an outcast.
The section where it says ‘neither quarrelling nor crying’ shows the reader that they are usually always arguing with each other and that they are very spoilt children. Charlotte Bronte uses psychological landscaping as it says ‘me, she had dispensed from joining the group’ and goes on to say ‘she regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance’ makes the reader empathise with Jane Eyre, and again shows she is excluded from the family, making the reader feel sorry for her, and not wanting to be in her position.
Charlotte Bronte uses strong emotive language in the novel for example when Jane’s aunt tells Jane she should ‘acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more lighter franker, more natural, as it were’, its also as if they’re suggesting Jane Eyre is unnatural, and have high expectations of her. The word slipped shows secrecy, as she says ‘I slipped in there’, also showing she’s being mature and sensible about it and isn’t making a huge fuss. She then goes on to say ‘having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close’ makes the audience think she is hiding away, and protecting herself from the evil around her. …. That drear November day. At intervals turning over the leafs of my book, I studied the aspects of that winter afternoon. ‘
This sentence shows empathy and the words ‘drear November day’ and ‘winter afternoon’ shows strong use of psychological landscaping, because when you think of a ‘drear November day’ you instantly think of horrible rainy weather and the same with a ‘winter afternoon’, you instantly think of rainy, snowy weather sat at home. Both these sentences give a feeling of negativity. Charlotte Bronte also uses pathetic fallacy, saying phrases such as ‘rain sweeping’ and ‘lamenting blast’.
She uses psychological landscaping again in the next paragraph as Jane Eyre reads a section of her vignette to the reader, saying, “the solitary rocks and promontories”. Using pathetic fallacy helps the reader have a picture of the setting and creates the atmosphere in the novel. It expresses janes mood, for example it is a rainy day, and jane is bored and miserable, we know this as she says, ‘…. but not separating me from that drear November day’. This gives the reader a negative picture of the weather.
In the vignette that Jane Eyre is reading in the novel, there are gothic like descriptions like ‘haunted the quite solitary churchyard’, again giving a feeling of negativity and makes the reader think of ‘gothic-like’ things such as death and churchyards. Slightly further on in the novel Jane Eyre goes on to say ‘I was then happy: happy at least in my own way. ‘ Showing the reader that she isn’t usually a happy person, and it isn’t very often that she’s happy, making the reader feel empathy for her, and maybe makes the reader believe that she is locked away from happiness and isn’t allowed to be happy.
Also, near the beginning of chapter 2, it says ‘they went shutting the door and locking it behind them’ shows the reader that she feels like a prisoner, and again excluded from the family. Jane Eyre comes across as being quite a positive child, as her family are horrible to her but she just takes it, for example ‘and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to …… ‘, this shows she’s aware that she’s further down in the family and she just shrugs it off. She just seems ignored and unwanted in the family, and she knows that there’s nothing she can do so had learnt to live with it.
John Reed looks for Jane Eyre, as she is hiding behind the curtain with her book. Jane Eyre and John Reed have totally opposite personalities, as Jane is the innocent type that would just shrug her shoulders and move on. Whereas John Reed is the type who thinks he is higher than everybody else and will bully any poor soul that would take it, for example Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre gives a long description about him; giving the reader an impression that he is fat, and not the nicest looking child, ‘…. Large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities’.
Jane Eyre and John Reed do not get on at all as he is horrible to her, as Jane tells us how terrified of him she is, for example ‘ every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh in my bones shrank when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he aspired. ‘ The servants knew how John Reed was to poor Jane Eyre, but did not dare say anything to ‘their young master’ as Jane tells us; ‘the servants did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs reed was blind and death of the subject: … Jane Eyre seems to be being sarcastic about her aunt being blind and death, maybe because she doesn’t want to say anything as it shows that she would be sticking up for Jane Eyre, so ignores it and pretends she’s not seen anything. For an example of how master John Reed talks to Jane Eyre, ‘and for the look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat! ‘ this is not a very nice way to talk to someone, and the word rat is usually associated with the words disgusting, dirty, vermin, diseases and scavenger and for a child to say that to another is not a very nice thing to do.
John Reed is a very demanding child as he was asking her questions like ‘what were you doing behind the curtain? ‘ and Jane answers really honestly ‘I was reading’ she just gave a simple answer as she is scared of him so won’t dare be cheeky to him. ‘Show the book’ he replies, making the reader feel empathy for her as he is being so demanding towards her but she just takes it and hands over the book. ‘You ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us, and … ‘ this shows the reader that Jane is unwanted in the family, especially by John Reed. It shows that she’s really low down in the family and you can’t get any lower han being a homeless beggar, that’s how low John Reed thinks of her.
Then he goes on to talk about the house going to be his, this shows that he hasn’t a care in the world, even about his mum, as the house will be his when his mother dies. He says ‘all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. ‘ So suspects his mum will be dead in a few years time. Charlotte Bronte uses several acts of violence to create suspense and mystery in the novel, as Jane Eyre gets a book thrown at her, as it says in the novel; ‘I saw him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it… t hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the pain was sharp: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded. ‘ Here charlotte Bronte uses short snappy sentences to create a feeling of empathy.
Jane Eyre got really angry, so was fighting back with John Reed; ‘wicked and cruel boy’ she said. ‘I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder; he had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant, a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood trickling down my neck…. this shows she has a reason for why she is fighting back, and again makes the reader feel empathy for her. Towards the end of chapter one Charlotte Bronte uses alliteration well for example ‘fury to fly’ and ‘picture of passion’ of which is also emotive language. She uses alliteration again in the beginning of chapter two, ‘moments mutiny’ this is also an emotive and powerful phrase. ‘Hold her arms, miss abbot, she’s like a mad cat. ‘ This shows aggression towards Jane Eyre, and they are physically and emotionally suppressing her.
When they talk about the word cat it again gives an impression to the reader that she is some sort of uncivilised wild animal and should be locked up. The reader may also think of a cat being fiery. Bessie (the servant) says ‘if you don’t sit still, you must be tied down’ they are treating her like a prisoner, yet she is only ten years of age. ‘As incredulous of my sanity’ here Jane Eyre seems to have overstated the problem, making it sound worse than it actually is. Abbot described Jane Eyre as an ‘underhand little thing. ‘ This isn’t a very nice way to talk to a ten year old, and makes her sound evil. She also describes her as a ‘thing’.
A thing may mean a human or an animal, as she has been described as an animal a few times in the novel, for example when Abbot calls her a ‘mad cat’ and John Reed called her a ‘rat’. All these animal phrases give a negative affect to the novel. It is also a really strong use of emotive language, along with; ‘painful and crushing’, which is emotional and very negative, ‘passionate and rude’, and ‘strike her dead’ these are good examples of how well Charlotte Bronte has used emotive language. Miss Abbot was saying about Jane Eyre, ‘god will punish her: he might strike her dead in the midst of her tantrums.
Jane Eyre is only a child, and that’s something you don’t say to a child, it may be suggesting she going to hell. Jane Eyre got locked in the ‘red-room’; this is a room where Mr. Reed had died in, so wasn’t a very nice room for a child to be in, and was only visited occasionally, once a week by the housemaid ‘to wipe the mirrors and the furniture a week’s quiet dust’ and Mrs Reed came in at ‘far intervals’ ‘to review the contents of a certain secret drawer in the wardrobe’. ‘The chairs were of dark polished old mahogany’ this shows the reader that the family must be wealthy, as mahogany is a very rare wood.
The idea of mahogany adds to the whole idea of the red-room. Charlotte Bronte used the words ‘red-room’ very well as its a good selective choice of wording, as its alliteration and it’s one that the reader will remember. The colour choice reflects on her life stage as she is just at the start of adolescence, where her periods will start and the colour also may be associated with anger and passion. It also tells us that the furniture is dark. ‘It was silent’ as she was describing the room, it is like the room has almost taken her voice away, and gives a negative atmosphere.
Being put in the ‘red-room’ makes the reader feel sorry for Jane Eyre as she is only a child and is being treated unfairly. Describing the room again; ‘also white’ and ‘like a pale throne’ gives a deathly feel to the room, and is a ghostly colour giving the reader an impression that it’s used to create a negative feel to the novel. It sounds like Jane Eyre is starting to get hot and angry, and maybe a bit rebellious as she said ‘my blood was still warm’ her mind also seems to becoming disturbed as she uses words like ‘tyrannies’, ‘proud indifference’ and ‘turned up in my disturbed mind… Again these are all negative words, and again create empathy towards Jane Eyre. We know that Jane Eyre is understandably not happy about being in the red-room, so is slightly stubborn, being a typical child when they haven’t got what they want, she says she is going to let herself die; ‘never eating or drinking more and letting myself die’ In the next paragraph of the novel the reader will feel empathy again towards Jane Eyre as she says ‘I was termed naughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaking from…. ‘ As we know she is not really naughty and is very innocent.
Charlotte Bronte uses a persuasive technique by using a group of three words together, these were ‘humiliation, self-doubt, forlorn depression…. ‘ again this creates a really strong feeling of empathy by the reader. She then goes on to say ‘I wiped my tears’ making the reader feel sorry for her as she isn’t in the wrong and hasn’t done anything wrong so shouldn’t be punished. Jane Eyre seems slightly disturbed and obsessed with death as she is talking about ‘dead men’. Then Jane Eyre believes something is near, ‘a light gleamed on the wall. Was it, I asked myself, a ray from the moon penetrating some aperture in the blind?
No; moonlight was still, and this stirred;’ it was almost as if her mind was playing tricks on her and it was slightly superstitious. She may feel that something’s coming to get her, as she’s alone and scared. Towards the end of chapter two Jane Eyre says to her Aunt Reed, ‘O Aunt! Have pity! Forgive me! ‘ makes the reader feel sorry for her as she is only a ten year old child, begging her aunt to forgive her, its not often that a child of the 21st century would have the need to do that. Overall, I feel Charlotte Bronte has created empathy in the novel as I felt it towards her.
The way Charlotte Bronte used a poor girl, with a rich family really worked well, as the rich family looked down upon Jane Eyre, (the poor girl) and that’s what people did in the 19th century, and some still do it today, but not as much as then. Charlotte also used excellent use of emotive language, as it created empathy from the reader. The first two chapters of the novel has made me think more about the children with no parents, living with family or friends that don’t really want them around! They must feel down and negative all the time.