The Search of Freedom and Belonging
The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her, but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes. Charlotte Brontё’s Jane Eyre, follows a woman named Jane Eyre, who goes through hardships throughout her life, and uses those experiences to strengthen her and help her grow in maturity as she ages. She remains true to her morals to guide her through, and does not allow her life struggles to change them. Being an orphaned child she feels alienated in her Aunt Reeds home as she is terribly treated and abused, and sent away to Lowood a school for orphaned children. While looking for belonging and freedom, she realizes that the freedom she might get from Rochester, as his mistress, would result in her sacrificing her values. With St. John Rivers, her morals help her to return to Mr Rochester. In Jane Eyre, the character of Jane is on a quest to belong, valued, to be loved, and to have freedom, and learns that in order to have these things she must love herself first and not sacrifice her moral belief system in the process.
As an orphaned child Jane searches for a sense of belonging. While living in her Aunt Reed’s home, she is not treated as an equal. The workers in the house were treated better than Jane. As one of the maids, Bessie, tells her, “[Jane] are under obligations to Mrs Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn [Jane] off, you would have to go to the poor-house” (Brontё Vol I 9). Jane is basically an object in the home. Nobody really wanted her to be there, but sadly, in their mind, she was there to stay. While living with her Aunt, her cousin John Reed abuses Jane to his enjoyment. Jane describes the abuse, “He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him” (Vol I 5). Jane feared being around John and this fear made her feel unwanted, that she did not belong in the house. Even when she protests against John and fights back no one believes that she is being abused (Vol I 7). The act of alienation from the rest of the house makes Jane feel that she does not belong. The loneliness Jane receives in her Aunt Reed’s home, gives her feeling of being unwanted and gives her the sense to look for being valued and belonging.
Moving from her Aunt Reed’s home to Lowood school, Jane finds friendship, which urges her to seek a balance between her religious beliefs and her sense of freedom. Jane shows a strong belief in Christianity, while Mr Brocklehurst, a master from Lowood school, interviews her. Brontё clarifies Jane’s beliefs with an interview between her and Mr Brocklehurst, “‘Do you read the bible?’ ‘Sometimes.’ ‘With pleasure? Are you fond of it?’ ‘I like revelations, and the book of Daniel, and Genesis and Samuel, and a little bit of Exodus, and some parts of Kings and Chronicles, and Job and Jonah” (Vol I 36). She talks highly of the Bible, and knows her favourite parts of it. She clearly understands the Bible, and takes her morals from it. When sent to Lowood, Jane expresses happiness that she is being sent off somewhere away from her Aunt Reed’s home. As explained, “‘Good-bye to Gateshead!’ cried [Jane], as [she] passed through the hall and went out at the front door” (Vol I 48). She expresses gratitude and joy in leaving, that she is finally free of the abuse and alienation she received. At the school, Jane finds a friend, Helen Burns, who she finds the feeling of being wanted. As they become friends, Jane confides with Helen, such as: ‘That [Jane] should love Mrs Reed, which I cannot do I should bless her son John, which is impossible.’ In her turn, Helen Burns asked me to explain; and I proceeded forthwith to pour out, in my own way, the tale of my sufferings and resentments. Bitter and truculent when excited, I spoke as I felt, without reserve or...
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