Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bullying in Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë was published in 1848, under the name of Currer Bell. Although the novel is over 150 years old, there are still themes that we can relate to today, such as bullying, prejudice and hypocrisy. In this essay, I am going to discuss the three themes mentioned and also consider admirable characters from the novel; the authors narrative technique and the part that I found appealing. The first issue that I will discuss will be on the bullying that Jane received at Gateshead Hall: the home of her Auntie and cousins.

She is bullied by not just her cousins, but her aunt as well. In Chapter one, it shows the bullying from her cousins and aunt, when she has begun reading and John Reed, her cousin, throws the book at her head, and she retaliates. But because she retaliated, John's sisters ran up to their 'mamma' and blamed the fight on Jane. She was then escorted upstairs and locked in the red room. This could be counted as a form of bullying, as she only puts her in the red room as a
punishment for attacking John, but we, the readers, already know that John started all of the commotion. Verbal bullying is also used in chapter one, where John Reed calls her names for throwing a punch at him

(QUOTE: CHAPTER1/LINE 16: "I don't very well know what I did with my hands, but he called me 'Rat!, rat! ')

During Jane's First term at Lowood, Jane is bullied out of food, when there was very little and the older girls wanted some more food to devour.

Jane Eyre is a first-person narrative, related in the voice of the protagonist, or heroine. Jane Eyre is the "I" of the story, the person whose voice we hear as we read, and everything that happens is seen from her point of view. Nowhere in the novel does the author break the flow of the narrator's voice to give us an objective view of her main character. However, she does remind us once in a while that the story is being told by Jane as a mature woman, looking back on events that
happened some years earlier. The mature Jane occasionally comments on the younger Jane's reactions to those events, and sometimes she even addresses you, the Reader, directly. You'll also find occasions where her narrative includes long stories told to Jane by other characters (such as Rochester's accounts of his past), conversations that Jane overhears between other characters, and even accounts of Jane's dreams. These not only add variety to the style but give the reader a chance to check up on the truthfulness of the narrator.

It's important to remember that in a first-person narrative like Jane Eyre we know only The Setting In the 1840s, when Jane Eyre was written, there were very few ways in which an educated woman could earn her own living. Poor girls might go to work as a house servant or in a factory, but the conditions in these jobs were so bad, and their status so low, that no young woman from a "good" family would consider these alternatives except in extreme desperation. That left teaching, usually as a governess with a wealthy family, as just about the only respectable occupation. Governesses lived with the families they worked for, so they lived in fairly comfortable surroundings. However, their cash wages were very low, so their work gave them no real financial independence. For the most part, they led lonely and unsatisfying lives. Their status was higher than that of the other servants--and too much mixing with the help was frowned on!--yet they weren't accepted as part of the family either. Unless a governess happened to be unusually attractive, her chances of finding a husband were slim. Most marriages at the time were based on family connections or financial considerations, and an educated woman with no dowry had almost no chance of getting married. Since they didn't have much hope of saving money out of their low salaries, all that most governesses could look forward to was a lonely and uncertain old age, dependent on the kindness of the families they had served. There had been governess-heroines before Jane Eyre, but they were portrayed as plucky and beautiful--an outsider's fantasy of the independent woman. Jane Eyre was the first successful look at the reality of the governess's life. It's not really necessary to know much about the 19th century in order to enjoy the story of Jane Eyre, but you'll understand some of Jane's actions a little better if you keep in mind that she's a governess. Jane Eyre is a plain-looking young woman who has been in an all-girl school since she was ten years old. She hasn't had any chance to learn about the ways of gentlemen like Mr. Rochester or about the male sex in general. By the standards of the time, Jane is quite bold in talking to Mr. Rochester as an equal. But when she realizes that his interest in her is romantic, she has to assume that it's not marriage he has in mind. This explains why she is very cautious about revealing her feelings for him. Also, although she works for Mr. Rochester for some months, Jane has very little cash of her own. When she goes to visit the Reeds, Rochester gives her extra money for the trip. And when she decides that she must leave Thornfield rather than become his mistress, Jane has only twenty shillings to her name--just enough money to pay her fare for a two-day trip to a distant part of England. Governesses were working women. But their security and freedom were very precarious. This is why Jane Eyre is powerfully drawn to the possibility of becoming dependent on a man--either through becoming Mr. Rochester's mistress or St. John Rivers' wife. Yet at the same time, she is also afraid, because her decision, once made, will be forever.

What the main character tells us. You may well suspect as you read that Jane's opinions aren't always entirely objective--another sort of person might see the events of the story and the personalities of the various characters in an entirely different light. This isn't necessarily a weakness in the novel; in fact, it may be one of its strengths. But you'll truly enjoy Jane Eyre only if you feel a basic trust in the narrator. For the novel to be a success for you, you must be able to imagine that, in Jane's shoes, you might well have felt and acted as she did. In this paragraph, characters who we admire will be brought up and good points about them will be mentioned. The first admirable person we meet would probably be Bessie, when she gets a doctor because Jane has some sort of fit when she is locked in the red room. Bessie had been following orders from Mrs Reed all the time, and didn't think of Jane's feelings at any time, until she had the fit. She was the first person to go and see why Jane is screaming and shouting so much.

Bessie ignores Mrs Reed's orders to ignore Jane's cries for help. Bessie and Jane get along much better after the red room incident. Another admirable person is Helen Burns, who we do not meet until chapter 5, who befriends Jane. She has a great impact on Jane, in what Jane does. The two become inseparable until Helen becomes ill, she disappears from the room, and is moved up to Miss Temple's room. Before Helen died, Jane had made her way up to Miss Temple's Room to be with her friend one last time. Earlier in chapter 6,Helen had flashed a smile at Jane when she had been accused of all the wrong doings her aunt told Mr Brockelhurst. The last admirable person that we meet between chapters 1 and 10 is Miss Temple. Helen tells Jane
that Miss Temple is the only warm hearted person at Lowood School. Miss Temple demonstrates how kind and believing she is when the accusations are thrown at Jane. She asks Jane if it is true, and Jane denies it. Miss Temple feels that Jane didn't do any of the things she is being accused of and she says to her, she is innocent and as soon as she has checked out Jane's version with the physician that treated Jane in the red room, she will be innocent to everyone, not just her.

Hypocrisy is also experienced within the book.Hypocrisy is saying that you should be one thing not another, when you actually are another yourself. In Chapter 6, Mr Brockelhurst is a hypocrite in everyday life, as his father created a school for poor children, and he demands that the children stay poor, but still he remains as rich as a celebrity.

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