I will be exploring how the theme of isolation is used throughout the novel "Jane Eyre" written by Charlotte Bronte, with particular focus on the opening chapters. When Charlotte Bronte wrote "Jane Eyre" in 1847, it became an immediate bestseller. It contained themes of which were previously rarely brought to light and of which many believed to be controversial, such as women's place in the Victorian society, of which Bronte lived in. "Jane Eyre" was written in first person narrative. This technique immediately allows the reader to relate to and connect with the main character's emotions and experiences, and her isolation. In this book, the author, Charlotte Bronte, has chosen to take an almost autobiographical approach to the plot. At many points in the novel, comparisons can be drawn between both Eyre and Bronte's life. As well as all of the above in this essay, I will also be concentrating on how isolation effects Jane's out-look on life, her behaviour towards others and herself, the reasoning behind her separation, and particularly how Charlotte Bronte uses Jane to convey her ideas to her readers, by representing a meaning deeper than that of it's obvious definition. I will also be looking at Charlotte Bronte's clever utilisation of imagery, language and structure helps her do this.
The theme of isolation is continuous and recurring throughout the novel "Jane Eyre". I will primarily be studying the first chapters in the book, in which orphaned Jane is living with her wealthy Aunt Reed and cousins John, Georgiana and Eliza at Gateshead. The first point in which Jane's endurance of isolation becomes apparent is when Bronte explains Jane's family situation. Not only did Jane experience the death of her parents at a very young age, she also suffered the bereavement of her Uncle, who had taken her in, shortly after. Whilst on his deathbed, Jane's aunt had promised her husband she would bring up Jane as her own child, in their house, along with their three other children. It is made clear through Aunt Reed's resentful behaviour towards Jane, that she severely begrudged keeping his promise, and clearly looked upon Jane as a burden and inferior to her own children. This immediately isolates Jane from the rest of the household, on both physical and mental levels. A prime example of this takes place in chapter one, when Aunt Reed had "dispensed [Jane] from joining the group"(page 1), whilst her cousins sat with their mother in a separate room, around a fire, with the weak excuse that "she really must be excluded from privileges, intended only for contented, happy, little children"(page 1). This consequently also makes Jane feel a subconscious separation from her peers, her cousins. Jane attempts to make their superior management justified, as any young, mislead child, who's known nothing but maltreatment all her life, would, with the belief that they're physical appearance validates her neglect. She often describes her "physical inferiority to Eliza, John and Georgiana Reed"(page1). This shows that, as Jane is receiving a lack of immediate of love, particularly parental (which is vital in any child's' upbringing), she has learnt to develop strategies and mechanisms in an attempt to gain a sense of personal well being. Charlotte Bronte then cleverly places Jane in a situation of further isolation; in a window seat, separated from the rest of the breakfast room which she has retreated to, by a red curtain. This now provides the reader with a circumstance of separation on two levels, the first being forced isolation, and the second being chosen isolation, as Jane has now shown she desires to cut herself off from the world even more. Once again, Bronte chooses to extend Jane's isolation further. This is shown simply with Jane's choice of book to read. Her selection of book, which was made almost purely on the requirement that it was one "stored with pictures", is a subtle indication that Jane's life is so dreary and...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document