English 1 Honors, Orange
April 5, 2011
Jane Eyre Synthesis Essay
What defines a family? What magical bond of love has the ability to connect a group of people? The quest for true family is a subject heavily explored in the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. The singular protagonist, Jane Eyre, is a "poor, obscure, plain, and little" (Bronte 292) young woman living in nineteenth century England who is orphaned at an early age. Knowing little about the cause of her parents' death or the possible existence of any relatives, Jane is brought up at Gateshead under the tyrannical presence of her aunt and three cousins, and she experiences abuse on all different levels: emotional, physical, and mental. After breaking free of this "family", many years later, Jane comes into contact with the Rivers family. She forms a close relationship with three benevolent people who turn out to be her cousins, and Jane finds the closest thing to a family in her life by residing with them. There is concrete evidence in Jane Eyre, as mentioned in Oates’ introduction, that Jane’s familial relationships in her lifetime strengthen her and define her as a person. Jane’s longing for a true family, which is painfully brought out by the cruelty of the Reeds, is satisfied by a newfound relationship with the Rivers siblings at Whitcross. Jane's horrible experience of living with the Reed family makes her grow stronger. Jane's aunt, Mrs. Reed, is bound by the final wish of her husband to raise the child of the deceased Eyre family, a wish that she begrudgingly carries out. She shows no affection towards Jane, excluding her from many family activities such as sitting in the parlor together. John Reed, her selfish and cruel cousin, causes Jane great fear and physical pain through his abuse: “I saw him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it…it hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it…my terror had passed its climax…‘Wicked...
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