The settings in Jane Eyre are important in understanding the development of Jane’s character. The different places she lives in represent different stages in her life, and the emotions she feels in each place reflect her growth as a person.
Jane begins her life at Gateshead, where she is miserable and oppressed. She is constantly reminded of her low status in society, and her aunt Mrs. Reed makes it clear that she is not wanted there. This experience shapes Jane’s character, making her independent and strong-willed.
When Jane goes to Lowood school, she experiences more hardship, but also finds friendship and camaraderie. She grows closer to Miss Temple and learns to value education. This period of her life teaches her the importance of learning and self-improvement.
At Thornfield, Jane falls in love with Mr. Rochester, but their relationship is complicated by his dark secret. This experience leads Jane to confront her own fears and insecurities, and she emerges a more confident person.
Finally, after being rejected by Mr. Rochester and leaving Thornfield, Jane comes to Ferndean where she finds peace and happiness. This final stage in her journey represents her growth into a mature and self-sufficient woman.
Setting is such an important aspect of Jane Eyre that it serves as both a device and a method for Bronte to construct bildungsroman throughout the book, depicting Jane’s growth. The names alone of the four locations give us a lot of information and build up to what Jane’s future holds in store for her.
The first, Gateshead Hall represents Jane’s childhood and her unhappy experiences there. The second is Lowood School, which though difficult, is where Jane gains an education and learns to be independent. Thornfield Hall is where Jane falls in love with Mr Rochester, but it also the site of much misery for her. Finally Ferndean Manor is where she returns to after all her tribulations, and it is here that she finds true happiness.
The first stage in Jane’s development is at Gateshead Hall, where she lives with her Aunt Reed and cousins. It is a cold, dark and unwelcoming place, representative of how Jane feels living there – unloved and unwanted. She is locked away in the ‘red-room’, made to wear a humiliating mark of punishment on her dress, and is generally treated as an outcast by the family.
This all changes however when Jane saves her cousin John’s life, and is subsequently forgiven by her Aunt. Though she is still not truly happy at Gateshead, this marks the beginning of Jane becoming her own person, independent from the Reeds.
The next stage in Jane’s development comes at Lowood School. It is here that she learns to be independent, after initially finding the regime very difficult. The conditions are harsh, with little food and warmth, but Jane perseveres and eventually comes to thrive there. She makes friends with Helen Burns, who has a profound impact on her, and also with Miss Temple, who is a kind and maternal figure to Jane. It is at Lowood that Jane first begins to think about her own future, and what she wants from life.
The third stage in Jane’s development is at Thornfield Hall, where she becomes the governess. It is here that she falls in love with Mr Rochester, but their relationship is fraught with difficulties. Jane is constantly having to deal with Rochester’s volatile moods, as well as the mystery of the strange happenings at Thornfield. However, it is also at Thornfield that Jane finally feels truly happy, despite all the challenges she faces.
The fourth and final stage in Jane’s development is at Ferndean Manor, where she returns to after Thornfield burns down. It is here that she finds true happiness, with Rochester finally declaring his love for her. The two are married and live happily together, surrounded by nature and peace. This final stage represents Jane’s ultimate development, as she has overcome all the challenges in her life and found true contentment.
The settings in Jane Eyre are therefore integral to the development of Jane’s character, representing the different stages in her life. Through her experiences in each of these places, Jane grows and changes, eventually becoming a strong and independent woman.
For example, Gateshead may indicate a barrier that she can’t cross or an entrance to the next phase of her life, suggesting that her sadness and misery are at their peak. Throughout the book, it appears that location serves as Jane’s embodiment and is a distinct way for readers to interpret her feelings.
Lowood school, which is dreary and unhappy, may be seen as a symbol for Jane’s growth. It is here that she learns many things about the world and herself. Thornfield Manor is another example of how location shapes Jane’s character. It is at Thornfield that she meets Rochester, falls in love, and experiences heartbreak. Each setting reveals something new about Jane’s personality, making it an important tool for understanding her development throughout the novel.
At Gateshead, one of Bronte’s typical methods of reflecting change is through the pathetic fallacy, which makes Jane’s statement that it was “way too chilly” to go outdoors seem unhappy yet also establishes a theme contrast where the rest of the Reed family is huddled around the “heat” of the fire.
In addition, during her time at Lowood, the contrast between the cold and bleak setting with the warmth of Mr. Rochester’s house is used to highlight how much Jane has grown as a character. She is no longer content with her life at Lowood and yearns for something more, which is represented by her move to Thornfield. The reader sees how Thornfield initially seems like a perfect place for Jane, as it is “a handsome modern dwelling” surrounded by beautiful gardens.
However, as the novel progresses and the secrets of Thornfield are revealed, the setting becomes darker and more sinister, reflecting the change in Jane’s emotional state. Thus, it is clear that throughout Jane Eyre, the settings are carefully chosen to represent the development of Jane’s character.
Jane’s isolation is emphasized by the contrast between her and the rest of the family, making note of how unusual it would be for most kids. Jane’s representation of location isn’t always literal, though; this description may also be a criticism of Jane’s attitude at this time.
The way in which Eyre is written suggests that the author sympathises with her protagonist, and by using this technique it allows the reader to understand how Jane is feeling. This is significant as it’s one of the first times we see emotion from Jane, who up until this point has been quite reserved. It also allows us to see how her character develops over time, as she becomes more comfortable in expressing her feelings.
The next stage in Jane’s development comes when she moves to Lowood School. The description of the school is much harsher than that of Gateshead, and reflects the treatment that the girls receive. The conditions are terrible, with cold winters and barely any food. However, despite all of this, Jane manages to find some happiness here. She makes friends with Helen Burns, who helps her to see the good in people and to be more forgiving. This is a significant turning point for Jane, as she learns to let go of anger and resentment.
The final stage in Jane’s development comes when she moves to Thornfield Hall. This is where she meets Mr. Rochester and falls in love. The setting is much more idyllic than her previous homes, and reflects the happiness that Jane feels. However, this is short-lived, as the truth about Mr. Rochester is revealed and Jane is forced to leave. This represents a return to her former life, as she is once again alone and penniless. However, this time she is stronger and more confident. She is able to stand up for herself and to make her own way in the world.
The settings in Jane Eyre therefore represent the different stages in Jane’s development. From a shy and withdrawn child, to a strong and independent woman, we see how she grows and changes over time. The settings play an important role in conveying this change, and help to create a vivid picture of Jane’s journey.