Jane Eyre

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Identity Formation in Jane Eyre

The novel Jane Eyre details Jane’s journey through life. In the novel, Jane encounters several women who greatly influence her transformation from a young girl into a grown woman. The experiences she has shape her conception of how a woman should be. As a child, Jane is an orphan living with her cruel relatives, who treat her as an outcast and oppress her. However, there is one character, the nurse Bessie Lee, who acts as a mother figure to Jane and is always kind and caring. Lacking a mother of her own, Jane admires Bessie because of her mother-like qualities; therefore Bessie acts as a role model for Jane, displaying how a woman should be. This demonstrates that one’s own identity is often formed by the influences of others who are close to them.

Throughout much of her childhood, Jane lives with the Reed’s at Gateshead-hall. Her aunt and cousins are tremendously heartless towards her, calling her a burden, and a liar. Jane sleeps in a closet, eats meals alone, and is forbidden to associate with her cousins; she is always excluded. Although Mrs. Reed is asked to care for Jane like her own child by her deceased husband before his death, she fails to do so. In fact, she does the opposite, treating Jane as less than a servant. Jane often contemplates suicide as a way to free herself from her misery. Despite the difficult times Jane faces, Bessie is always by her side. When Mrs. Reed treats Jane harshly, Bessie comforts her. Bessie is also firm, and scolds Jane, as a mother sometimes must when a child is out of line. The qualities she possesses set her apart from the other women at Gateshead-hall such as Mrs. Reed, and the maid Abbot, who are always looking for faults in Jane’s actions. Bessie is always kind and loving, and truly cares about Jane. She is Jane’s favourite at Gateshead-hall and they have a good relationship. Jane says that “Bessie seemed to her the best, prettiest, kindest being in the world;...
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