Jane Eyre 1.pdf - Charlotte Bronte \u2013 Life \u0083 \u0083 \u0083 \u0083 Born in Yorkshire England in 1816 Her mother died when she was five She was raised by her father

Jane Eyre 1.pdf - Charlotte Bronte u2013 Life u0083...

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Unformatted text preview: Charlotte Bronte – Life: ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ Born in Yorkshire, England in 1816 Her mother died when she was five She was raised by her father and Aunt Charlotte and her 3 sisters, Maria, Elizabeth and Emily were sent to a school called Cowan Bridge ƒ When an outbreak of tuberculosis killed Maria and Elizabeth, Charlotte and Emily were brought home Bronte’s life contd. ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ Several years later Charlotte returned to school She bacame a teacher at this school in 1835 After several years she decided to become a private governess She was hired to tutor the children of the wealthy Sidgewick family in 1839 She didn’t like this job and left it soon after. She returned to work as a governess and was again disappointed Literary career begins… ƒ Charlotte tried to establish a school with her sisters but this was unsuccessful. ƒ They began to write stories, poems and plays and later in life, all three sisters became novelists. ƒ The three sisters wrote and published under male pseudonyms; Charlotte’s was Currer Bell Jane Eyre published ƒ Bronte published Jane Eyre in 1847. ƒ After its critical success, she revealed her identity to her publisher ƒ She went on to write other novels, notably Shirley (1849) ƒ Her three remaining siblings all died between 1848-49 and this left her very depressed. ƒ In 1854 she married a man she did not love. ƒ In 1855 she died of pneumonia while pregnant. She was only 39 Note similarities with Jane’s life: ƒ Helen Burns’ death from tuberculosis recalls the death of Charlotte’s sisters. ƒ Mr. Brocklehurst’s portrayal is based in part on the Evangelical minister who ran Cowan Bridge ƒ John Reed’s decline into alcoholism is based on Charlotte’s brother Branwell who became an alcoholic before his death ƒ Like Jane, Charlotte too was raised by her aunt and became a governess. Similarities with Blake: ƒ ƒ ƒ Orphan children Charity schools Role/failure of religion (see the ballad that Bessie sings for Jane at the end of Ch 3) suggesting that God takes care of orphans and unfortunate people ƒ This is a lot like Blake’s Chimney Sweeper poems Bildungsroman ƒ Jane Eyre is a Bildungsroman which is a novel that deals with the psychological and moral development of a person from childhood to adulthood. ƒ German : Bildung, formation + Roman, novel (from French, novel) ƒ A coming-of-age novel or a “novel of formation” or “novel of education” ƒ A bildungsroman can sometimes be autobiographical Gothic novel ƒ A gothic novel is a novel with supernatural elements and an atmosphere of unknown terror. ƒ These elements are introduced early in Jane Eyre with the depiction of the haunted red room. Other gothic elements are the presence of Bertha Mason in the attic and her horrific laughter that can be heard from time to time. ƒ Other elements of the gothic novel found in Jane Eyre are remote locations (Lowood, Moor House and Thornfield), supernatural encounters (Jane’s encounter with the ghost of Uncle Reed), ancient manor houses (Gateshead and Thornfield) and dark secrets (Bertha in the attic). ƒ The term is derived from German literature Major themes of the novel: 1. Social class ƒ Jane’s class position is ambiguous (unclear) at both Gateshead and Thornfield. At Gateshead, because she is an orphan with no inheritance, she has no class standing ƒ At Thornfield, as a governess, although she is educated and cultured, she is a paid employee (like the servants) 2. Religion ƒ Throughout the novel Jane struggles with the issue of religion. ƒ Three characters in the novel represent three models of religion, all of which Jane rejects: Mr. Brocklehurst, Helen Burns and St. John Rivers ƒ Mr. Brocklehurst shows the dangers and hypocrisies of 19c evangelical movement (see for eg. The scene in Ch 7 when he orders that all the girls’ topknots be cut off. ƒ Helen Burns’ model of Christianity is too passive for Jane to adopt ƒ St. John rivers represents the Christianity of ambition and glory ƒ Although Jane rejects these models, she remains a deeply spiritual and moral person and finds her own comfortable middle ground. Religion helps Jane to curb her passions, motivate her on to action and attain selfknowledge and faith in God 3. Gender ƒ The novel strongly critiques the patriarchal domination of Victorian society. Jane struggles continually for equality and dignity. ƒ The three characters who threaten this are Mr. Brocklehurst (again see scene in Ch 7 where he talks about his philosophy of raising girls), Mr. Rochester and St. John Rivers. They all try to keep Jane in a submissive position. Jane escapes Mr. B, rejects St. John and returns to Rochester only after ensuring that they can marry as equals Jane’s plain appearance ƒ There is a lot of emphasis on Jane’s plain appearance (end of Ch 3, conversation between Bessie and Miss. Abbott) ƒ She is not a beautiful heroine and she often wishes she were better looking (Ch 11). ƒ In this sense she contrasts with other female characters in the novel like Georgiana and Blanche Ingram who use their looks to their advantage. ƒ Jane’s asset is her mind and her intellect, not her looks or her money. ƒ She connects with Mr. Rochester much more at the intellectual level than the physical. Neither of them are attractive. 4. Feminism in the novel: ƒ Jane is a very strong woman and despite her troubles, she attains a lot in life and is very independent. In this, she is a proto (first, original) feminist. ƒ Jane Eyre has often been called the first major feminist novel in English literature ƒ In Ch 12 Jane says something radically feminist for her time: Feminism: ƒ Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex. 5. Models of womanhood: ƒ Jane encounters many women in the novel who provide different models of femininity and womanhood. ƒ Characters like Bessie and Miss Temple are like substitute mothers for Jane ƒ Helen Burns is a comforting friend but also a self-negating (rather than self-asserting) model of femininity ƒ Blanche Ingram uses her wealth, class position and beauty to seduce men like Rochester, but she is clearly not very intelligent. 6. Jane’s acute sense of justice: ƒ Jane has a very strong sense of fairness and justice ƒ She speaks up against her ill-treatment by her aunt (Ch 4, “I am glad you are no relation of mine…) ƒ She is very troubled and angry by the way Helen is treated at Lowood. She rips off the “Slattern” sign from Helen’s forehead ƒ Note difference in attitude between Jane and Helen (tiger and lamb) – which attitude is better? Love versus autonomy: ƒ Jane desperately searches for a sense of belonging and wants to be loved. ƒ Jane says to Helen Burns: “to gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it dash its hoof at my chest” (Ch 8). ƒ Jane must learn how to gain love without sacrificing or hurting herself and by maintaining her own identity Symbols in the novel: ƒ 1. Fire: Symbolizing passion, anger and spirit. In Chapter 4, she likens her mind to “a ridge of lighted heath, alive, glancing, devouring.” ƒ 2. Ice and cold: Barren and cold landscapes symbolize emotional isolation, loneliness and even death. The arctic imagery (Ch 1)parallels Jane’s isolation at Gateshead ƒ 3. Red room: Symbol of exile and imprisonment (not just physical, but psychological/emotional as well). She recalls this memory when she is punished at Lowood. ...
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