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Published: 17-09-2019

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Individual against Environment: Importance of Setting in Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre opens at dreary Gateshead Hall, exactly where the orphaned title character is compelled to reside with her wealthy aunt. Here the young Jane appears reserved and unusual, a girl who says she can be “happy at least in my way” (9), implying that her brand of happiness is various than the traditional, and whom the reader does not however understand. As the novel goes on, Jane migrates to a series of areas that support develop her true character. The settings of Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Moor Home, and finally Ferndean Manor shape Jane and at some point give rise to her accurate independence.

Bronte opens the novel in Gateshead Hall, exactly where Jane’s aunt, Mrs. Reed, imprisons Jane temporarily in the manor’s “Red Room.” The description of this area is far more detailed than of any other at Gateshead: “This area was chill, since it seldom had a fire it was silent, because remote from the nursery and kitchens solemn, since it was known to be so seldom entered” (14). The space is like Jane’s personality at this point in the novel – isolated and morose. Jane’s distance from her family members, humorless existence, and cold attitude toward Mrs. Reed when she ultimately confronts her are qualities that reflect her surroundings.

When Jane migrates to Lowood she leaves childhood behind. Initially she remains isolated at Lowood, but the description of the location and her reaction to it are not so gloomy: “…The creating spread far.—with a lot of windows, and lights burning in some we went up a broad, pebbly path, splashing wet, and have been admitted at a door then the servant led me by means of a passage into a space with a fire, where she left me alone” (42). Though left alone in a foreign place, Jane accepts the solitude with no worry – a sign of maturity. Situations at Lowood are poor and everyday life tightly structured, and Jane is capable to conform to her surroundings because she does not however have a clear self identity. We have observed only glimmers of her tough, independent character by this point, as when she confronts Mrs. Reed.

At Lowood, Jane meets her 1st true pal, Helen Burns. Although Jane is nevertheless impulsive and brief-tempered, Helen is patient and accepting, with sturdy morals and religious conviction. For instance, Jane comments fiercely on the way a particular teacher punished Helen: “And if I were in your spot I should dislike her: I must resist her if she struck me with that rod, I need to get it from her hand I ought to break it below her nose” (55). Helen replies calmly to Jane’s outburst: “It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you—and, apart from, the Bible bids us return great for evil” (55). Though Helen dies soon thereafter, it is clear that her presence at Lowood created a strong impression on Jane and calmed her fiery tendencies.

The novel’s subsequent setting is Thornfield, exactly where Jane is hired as governess and where her greatest character improvement takes place. The way Bronte describes Jane’s arrival at Thornfield shows that the place will be transformative: “I followed her across a square hall with higher doors all around: she ushered me into a room, whose double illumination of fire and candle at first dazzled me, contrasting as it did with the darkness to which my eyes had been for two hours inured when I could see, even so, a cozy and agreeable image presented itself to my view” (95). Jane’s brief visual impairment recalls the darker days from which she has emerged, the candle represents a brighter future, and the “cozy and agreeable picture” suggests just that – which, as the reader will understand, also stands for the infatuation with Rochester that will soon emerge.

The challenging, unusual relationship that develops amongst Jane and Rochester eventually forces Jane to let her guard down. He tells her to listen to the nightingale singing in the wood, and Jane states that

“In listening, I sobbed convulsively for I could repress what I endured no longer. I was obliged to yield and I was shaken from head to foot with acute distress. When I did speak, it was only to express an impetuous want that I has in no way been born, or by no means come to Thornfield” (252). Lastly Jane admits emotion to herself and recognizes the influence – very good or bad – that one’s setting and relations can have upon her.

When Jane flees Thornfield she is at her weakest, alone and actually penniless. This temporary penury shows how relentlessly she seeks independence and refuses to settle for anything much less than the utmost respect. When she sees Moor Home for the 1st time, the description is no a lot more promising than that of any other spot Jane has lived: “Entering the gate and passing the shrubs, the silhouette of a house rose to view black, low, and rather long: but the guiding light shone nowhere. All was obscurity” (331). However this time, the dark place turns out to hold loved ones and fortune. Jane feels comprehensive here, capable to overcome old insecurities. She is finally rewarded for her goodness and helps teach the disadvantaged. Her stay at Moor House allows Jane to turn out to be a entire person, and to prepare her for meeting Rochester again, this time feeling like an equal.

Jane finds Rochester at Ferndean Manor. Bronte takes a web page to describe the place, adding to the suspense of Jane’s predicament. It is another dark, isolated place that hints not at Jane’s situation, this time, but at Rochester’s. Like the desolate manor, Rochester is now debilitated and despondent . Only Jane’s nurturing can revive him, putting the two on even ground for the first time. In a single of the final passages, Jane describes her care for Rochester: “I caressed, in order to soothe him but dared not. As he turned aside his face a minute, I saw a tear slide from under the sealed eyelid, and trickle down the manly cheek. My heart swelled” (444). Ultimately the two balance each and every other and actually enjoy.

Every setting in Bronte’s novel shaped its heroine, as Jane steadily left isolation and repression to attain respect , enjoy, and independence. Jane came completely into herself at Moor Residence and, after ready, helped Rochester become his personal best self at Ferndean. The darkness that characterizes every setting at some point ultimately dissipates, and 1 is left feeling that Jane has certainly located her house.
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