How does Charlotte Bronte create sympathy for Jane in the first two chapters

Topics: Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte takes her reader on an emotional journey through the life of her eponymous heroine – Jane Eyre. Through this journey the reader learns all about Jane’s distressing experiences and elated peaks, making the reader develop sympathy and empathy for her. Bronte sets out her story using a first person narrative of Jane speaking through a retrospective voice. The first person narrative enables us to connect with Jane and understand all the elements of Jane’s character whilst looking back from her fears of childhood to her love for the mysterious, sardonic Mr Rochester.

Bronte opens her novel ‘Jane Eyre’ and already you can identify the realistic element. Bronte uses three categories that base around ‘Jane Eyre’; Realistic, gothic and romantic to show all the different sides of Jane’s journey and to encourage us to feel connected to Jane. When reading chapter one and two of Bronte’s novel we begin to understand Jane’s position in the Reeds family life style.

Although family (Mrs. Reed being Jane’s aunt) she is regarded as an animal – not one of them.

Aunt Reed (and her children) has been told to look after Jane by her husband before he died although Mrs. Reed doesn’t keep this wish entirely fulfilled and excludes Jane from their family. Jane however seems to understand Mrs. Reed’s actions and thinks of it as a normal situation “the consciousness of my physical inferiority” Bronte begins by exploring the realistic element of Jane’s life. Bronte creates an atmosphere and vivid setting detailed and precisely delivered through Jane’s first person narrative voice.

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Jane shares with us a retrospective view on her past occasionally bringing us back into reality by using Jane’s older narrative voice.

Bronte includes direct speech this also creates the realistic atmosphere that Jane is only aware she is surrounded in. Jane tells us of how she use to enjoy reading books and how for them moments she was happy in her own way. As she tells us in a realistic view a happy atmosphere is produced. We begin to feel connected emotionally to this little girl who goes on with being abused by her family as we are about to find out. John Reed enters, tearing down the happy atmosphere and replacing it with a cold and aggressive surrounding.

“Boh! Madame Mope! Jane expresses to the reader just how much she feared her cousin, John Reed as a child “every nerve in my body feared him” As Charlotte Bronte builds up the suspension we begin to see the next category, gothic. John Reed is described by Jane Eyre as “not quick either of vision or conception” She is furious with him, how can he behave so ignorant and still be “my little darling” as Mrs Reed called him. Jane sets a clear image of her cousin in a gross manner, going into deep description of John Reed.

Jane is constantly abused by John Reed which usually she endured. He bullied and punished me” John intentionally hurts Jane on this particular day by pre planning to hurtle a book towards her however Jane gets blamed as always due to her burst of passionate behaviour “wicked cruel boy” She yelled. For this she is punished by being sent to the ghostly red room. Bronte very cleverly used the colour red to associate with this horrible room where she gets locked away when she’s naughty. Using the term ‘red room’ makes us think of all the things linked to the colour red for example danger.

Chapter one ends on a cliff hanger making us even more eager to carry on to chapter two. Jane is thrown into the red room on an unfair sentence and although she is a part of their family she is still thought as inferior. “You are less than a servant” abbot the maid tells Jane. The red room is “the largest and stateliest chambers” which makes it all the scarier for Jane. Her surroundings are all very dark and red. She describes the bed with massive mahogany pillars supporting it, red draped curtains and a vibrant white bed cover.

The bed “stood out like a tabernacle” this makes Jane and the reader at once feel like Jane is the victim that is going to be sacrificed. Bronte uses a repetitive description of the atmosphere of the red room. “This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire; it was silent, because remote from the nursery and kitchen; solemn, because it was known to be seldom entered” this makes it more tense and thrilling. Her uncle – Mr Reed – died in this room that makes it so much more cold and scary as Jane thinks his ghost may come down to fetch her.

Jane is a tiny object standing in the middle of a cold dark room with high wardrobes and drawers. However Jane is still not scared yet, she is angry. Her passionate side overruling her innocent side, Jane is resentful towards her cousins. However as her surroundings break through and she begins to feel scared se starts to believe that she is a wicked cruel and passionate girl. A she is sitting down on the stool she sees a white light appear on the wall rising and finally settling above her head.

From and older Jane’s point of view she explains how it was really a gardener carrying a light (the realistic element) however Jane at ten years old is a very superstitious scared girl “prepared as my mind was for horror”, so when she sees the light appear she believes it’s her uncle that has come back to haunt her and take her away. Even though beforehand Jane’s older narrative explained to us what really happened we can’t help but still feel as scared and sorry for this little girl. Although she does scream and help does come however with the worst possible outcome. “What is all this” Mrs Reed says peremptorily.

Bronte used pathetic fallacy to describe Mrs Reed “her gown rustling stormily” which conveys an exaggerated image to show Mrs Reeds personality as a first impression. Mrs Reed does not believe the story Jane tells her about the ghost, and locks Jane in the Red Room for another hour, this creates sympathy for Jane as we discover Mrs Reed’s character and we are immediately turned against her and sympathising with Jane for her bad treatment. The romantic category input in chapters one and two, is the passionate angry side of Jane. She is constantly stated an outcast in Mrs Reeds and the rest of her company – “you are less than a servant”.

This makes Jane a target for all unnecessarily harsh comments lowering her self confidence and replacing it with anger and passion to fight back, however little she may seem. Jane being mistreated and constantly named in different categories for example – ‘Mad cat’ and thought to have “virulent passions” this leads her own mind to start thinking that she is a cruel and passionate girl, making her act in that way. After along time of enduring John reeds harsh lashings she breaks out, and as soon as that happens we feel instantly happy for her.

Although she is to blame as she starts furiously kicking back as John hits her. “Did you ever see such a picture of passion” Mrs Abbot cries as she has to hold Jane down due to her loud eruption. When the apothecary comes to see Jane as she is ill, he advises Mrs Reed to take her to a school, which she accepts and applies Jane at Lowood school. Mr Brocklehurst, who is master of the school, comes to see Jane. This is another character Bronte uses to intertwine with Jane’s life and makes us develop sympathy. Bronte uses descriptive writing to engage with Jane’s feelings as a little girl.

She describes him as a pillar with harsh features, this immediately indicates that he is not a good acquaintance to Jane, before he has even spoke. Jane when entering the room where Mr. Brocklehurst is talking to Mrs Reed is immediately interrogated; he already is forcing a Christian belief on Jane, and questioning her of her knowledge of ‘good little girls’ Mr Brocklehurst after accounting Mrs Reed claims that Jane has a ‘wicked heart. ’ Mrs Reed ruins all hope for Jane before she even sets out to Lowood, this makes us slightly scared about what she will face at Lowood.

When Jane was due to leave for Lowood, she did. It is winter when she leaves and still dark, this builds up the tension about what will face her at Lowood, however we are pleased for her to leave Gateshead. Jane arrives at Lowood late in the night and is met by Miss Temple. Miss Temple is affectionate towards – touching her cheek, considering Bronte is using a retrospective technique it shows how much Jane remembers that first sign of affection. The following morning during lessons, Mr Brocklehurst visits to scrutinize the girls.

Jane is trying her best to make her completely invisible, but however she displaces her chalk board and making a loud noise she is no longer invisible, “a careless girl! ” she is placed on a stool in front of the whole assemblage, “this girl is – a liar! ” she feels humiliated as she is punished for no one to speak to her, this makes the reader feel sympathy as we feel Mr Brocklehurst has completely alienated Jane. However Jane is not completely alienated and befriends a girl, Helen Burns. Helen encourages Jane not to be so passionate and to accept and endure the punishment that is dealt to her.

She teaches Jane valuable lessons, about how Jane must change her passionate nature and replace it with a peaceful mind. She tells Jane about God and Jane is intrigued by Helens dignity. We are glad for Jane as she finds company and as well as Helen she has Miss Temple who acts like a mother figure to them both. “I would not now have exchanged Lowood with all its privations, for Gateshead and its daily luxuries” this shows how she Jane is happy at Lowood and we feel a sense of relief for her. However as her happiness grows, an outbreak of sickness (typhus) falls upon Lowood infecting a majority of the girls.

Helen is taken ill; Jane is very distressed during the vacation of her friend. Time passes and after weeks of not seeing Helen, Jane is desperate to see her. Placing her dress over her night clothes she sets out to find Helen. Helen is in Miss Temples room, as being the most serious case. Jane creeps in and stands by Helens sick-crib. When Jane awakens Helen she seems placid and not in pain, and very happy to see Jane. Helen talks of her last home and how Jane must bid her goodbye; the reader at this moment is feeling sympathy for Jane as she lies by her friend, tension build as they talk peacefully.

She seems dearer to me than ever” this expresses how Jane nurtures Helen at this point and can feel her becoming vulnerable in front of her. They are very affectionate towards each other which show how their relationship has developed. After talking of Helens future to God, Jane nestles beside Helen and they fall asleep. Jane awakes to find herself being carried by someone away from Helen as she is set down into her own dormitory she realises “I was asleep and Helen was – dead. ” The short pause between was and dead emphasises the mood of Jane as she remembers this, still hurt by her friend dying there in her arms.

We feel overwhelming sympathy for Jane at this moment as she has lost her first friend. However Jane still remembers what Helen taught her; to be humble, patient, forgiving and to hide her temper. We can see these teachings later throughout the novel. After Helen dies, there is a time gap of eight years. This shows how much Helens death has affected Jane – “I now pass a space of eight years in silence” the silence emphasises her grieving process towards her friend. Jane is now eighteen and is still at Lowood, however has moved on and has become a teacher.

She is still very close with Miss Temple however; after miss temple leaves to get married she becomes lonely and decided to apply for a job as a governess. She eventually gets a reply asking her to teach a little French girl, called Adele. She sets of to Thornfield which is where her placement as a governess is. When she arrives at Thornfield she is met by Miss Fairfax (the house keeper) and the following morning meets Adele. Mrs Fairfax gives her a tour of Thornfield and whilst looking around hears an odd laugh that’s mirthless and preternatural, she asks Miss Fairfax what the noise is and she simply Sais it is Grace Poole – a servant.

However as time passes in Thornfield she continues to here the eccentric cackle. October, November and December passed, she decided on one particular day to go for a walk and send a letter for Mrs Fairfax. Bronte uses techniques such as pathetic fallacy to build up tension, “the ground was hard, the air was still, my road was lonely” the way Bronte uses theses three short statements creates the whole atmosphere surrounding Jane and emphasises the statements more. The path she is walking on is completely desolate, all the wildlife has stopped still over winter, so as she walks alone through the soundless path we begin to feel tension.

She sits down for a while whilst she collects herself, there is a sheet of ice covering the causeway and she describes her view of the sun balancing in front of the sky. She suddenly hears a horse making its way towards the causeway where she sits. Her retrospective voice enters the gothic situation “in those days I was young, and all sorts of fancies bright and dark tenated my mind” she has certain recalls of her childhood, which shows how much impact the Reed family had on her. She continues to hear the horse and hear rustlings near the path before a huge dog is in sight and passes Jane; behind it is a horse with a rider on its back.

As Jane is leaving the horse and rider slip on the ice, she turns to them and walks over. The traveller is not a pleasant man as Jane find out and declares that Jane is a witch. However Jane continues to help him ignoring the rude temperament of the traveller. She tells the reader how if he’d been a handsome young man she would of never had dared to stand questioning him against his own will. Although the traveller is past youth and is not handsome, this usually puts Jane at ease. This indicates how Jane is used to bad tempered people and prefers being around them she has only known people with that nature.

After they have conversation about Jane’s position and where she comes from, he mounts his house and rides away. When she walks on she questions her acquaintance with the mysterious traveller, “it was an incident of no moment, no romance, no interest in sense; yet it marked with change one single hour of a monotonous life” she feels excited by the stranger and likes how it has changed her feelings of her ‘monotonous life. ’ After her walks event she doesn’t want to re-enter Thornfield, this shows how much the little conversation changed her usual quite life.

When she does enter Thornfield she is astonished to find the same dog from the causeway in the kitchen, she realises that the traveller was in fact Mr Rochester. Mr Rochester and Jane develop a good relationship over time, he often calls for her as company and they go on walks together around the building. One night Jane hears the strange devious laugh outside her door, she opens her door expecting pilot however there is no one there. This builds up tension as we wonder what will happen next.

She sees a chain of smoke coming from Mr Rochester’s room and runs there quickly; Jane acts quickly and after pouring water over the fire and Mr Rochester, he awakens. “I knew you would do me good in some way, at some time; I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you” Mr Rochester starts to show first signs of affection towards Jane. She recalls how he touched her hand and how she felt so overwhelmed, it is at that moment where we can begin to see the start of her love for Mr Rochester. We as the reader are so pleased for Jane at this moment however like always she is interrupted.

When going down to breakfast the following morning she is told that Mr Rochester has left to visit Blanche Ingram – who he is looking to be his wife. However Mr Rochester does return, but with company. Blanche Ingram and others come to stay at Thornfield Hall; there are parties and entertainment most nights which Jane must attend to look after Adele. We feel immediate sympathy for Jane as she is constantly judged by the guests making her feel that her love for Mr Rochester is totally irrelevant and ridiculous as she is in a whole other class, however she is still forced upon seeing Mr Rochester and Blanche together.

As time passes and Mr Rochester’s guest are still accommodated at Thornfield a strange guest arrives, on arrival Mr Rochester is already very concerned and in distress at his appearance. During the night Mr Rochester comes to Jane’s door and requests that she come and nurse for Mason who has after gone to bed has been bitten and attacked by to Jane some sort of monster. “She sucked the blood: she said she’d drain my heart,” Jane has to sit and nurse Mason on her own whilst Mr Rochester goes out in search for a doctor.

I think this shows Jane’s courage to sit through with someone who has been attacked by a ‘monster’ in the next room. Mr Mason leaves the following morning, early; parties carry on as before at Thornfield. Jane receives a letter from Bessie to ask her to come back to see Mrs Reed as she has called for her as she is very ill. After Mr Rochester’s approval, Jane takes a carriage and arrives at Gateshead to see her Aunt. She talks to Mrs Reed who explains to her why she has hated Jane so much, Jane endures this and stays calm pushing down her passionate nature. A month passes – when Mrs Reed dies.

Jane returns to Thornfield expecting her time there short due to the marriage of Mr Rochester and Blanche Ingram however she witnesses no meetings of the two, and notices how Mr Rochester calls for Jane often to accompany him. “never had I loved him so well” Jane is still in love with Mr Rochester but thinks that he does not love her back we feel sympathy for Jane here as she sits back and lets the ‘marriage’ continue, regardless of her love for Mr Rochester. One evening Jane takes a walk around Thornfield, Bronte once again uses pathetic fallacy to reflect Jane’s mood.

Jane is admiring the garden when Mr Rochester’s comes out and joins her. Jane is not totally secure with being with Mr Rochester so soon near the date of his wedding. Mr Rochester is constantly testing Jane trying to see if he loves her back as we find out later on. Jane wishes to leave Thornfield when Blanche and Mr Rochester are married, so he tells Jane how he has found a place for her in Ireland. When he asks her why she rejects the offer she says unwillingly “from you, sir” this is the small outbreak where Jane expresses her feeling to Mr Rochester.

We begin to feel tension again as Bronte builds up to Jane’s main outburst. Jane tells Mr Rochester how much she loves Thornfield – how she is not “buried with inferior minds” Mr Rochester has treated her like anyone else. Bronte uses rhetorical questions in Jane’s speech to add impact to her burst of passion and how she has become more powerful in speaking her mind towards her master. As Jane becomes more and more powerful Mr Rochester starts to become more and more weak he lets out he asks her to come to his side as is wife.

Jane accepts the proposal and is overjoyed with the arrangement; they are to get married as soon as possible. Bronte uses pathetic fallacy to add tension to the unknown future in front of them as that night there is a storm, a strong overpowering storm. The storm strikes the tree they were seated at in half, I think this is to emphasise their choice’s made to marry, and to reflect that something bad will happen. Jane stands as independent women towards Mr Rochester due to his difference in nature towards Jane after they agree to marry.

He wants to dress her in rich dresses and race her to an image Jane is not comfortable with. Jane declares that she wants to be independent she will carry on working for Mr Rochester after they marry and the money he gives her will be the money she will use to buy herself the necessities. She wants to be totally equal with him, however she does agree for him to buy the wedding dress and veil. After buying the wedding dress and veil, Mr Rochester leaves on horse, whilst Mr Rochester is vacant Jane sees something in her sleep, she tells Mr Rochester that was someone was in her room.

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How does Charlotte Bronte create sympathy for Jane in the first two chapters. (2017, Oct 17). Retrieved from

How does Charlotte Bronte create sympathy for Jane in the first two chapters
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