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Settings Of Jane Eyre Essay Research Paper

Settings Of Jane Eyre Essay, Research Paper

The Settings of Jane Eyre

Throughout Jane Eyre, as Jane herself moves from one physical location to

another, the settings in which she finds herself vary considerably. Bronte makes the most

of this necessity by carefully arranging those settings to match the differing

circumstances Jane finds herself in at each. As Jane grows older and her hopes and

dreams change, the settings she finds herself in are perfectly attuned to her state of mind,

but her circumstances are always defined by the walls, real and figurative, around her.

As a young girl, she is essentially trapped in Gateshead. This sprawling house is

almost her whole world. Jane has been here for most of her ten years. Her life as a child

is sharply defined by the walls of the house. She is not made to feel wanted within them

and continues throughout the novel to associate Gateshead with the emotional trauma of

growing up under its “hostile roof with a desperate and embittered heart.” Gateshead, the

first setting is a very nice house, though not much of a home. As she is constantly

reminded by John Reed, Jane is merely a dependent here.

When she finally leaves for Lowood, as she remembers later, it is with a “sense of

outlawry and almost of reprobation.” Lowood is after all an institution where the orphan

inmates or students go to learn. Whereas at Gateshead her physical needs were more than

adequately met, while her emotional needs were ignored. Here Jane finds people who

will love her and treat her with respect. Miss Temple and Helen Burns are quite probably

the first people to make Jane feel important since Mr. Reed died. Except for Sunday

services, the girls of Lowood never leave the confines of those walls. At Lowood, Jane

learns that knowledge is the key to power. By learning, Jane earns greater respect and

eventually, she becomes a teacher there, a position of relative power, all the more so

compared to what she left behind at Gateshead. Jane stays inside the walls of Lowood

for eight years. She has learned a great deal but all she finds for herself, when she does

finally decide to leave, is “a new servitude.” The idea that she might be free in an

unbounded world is not yet part of her experience — in a sense, it never will be.

Once again, Jane changes setting and circumstance and into a world that is

completely new to her experience. Thornfield is in the open country and Jane is free

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