Voice in Jane Eyre

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Jane Eyre
It always comes back to the classics. Anyone old enough to live during a time where a certain culture was at its peak will always be the first to tell everyone about it. Whether it be music, film, or literature, the classic pieces are always the trailblazers. When one thinks of modern classics in terms of novels, a few names come to mind. Infinite Jest, House of Leaves, or even Alan Moore’s Watchmen have all made a significant impact on the world of literature. Nearly every piece of modern art takes from their predecessors. For example, Hamlet is the story of a prince who tries to avenge the death of his father, killed by his own brother for the throne. This sounds very similar to the plot of Disney’s The Lion King, a movie that remains as the seminal film of the Disney Renaissance. Today, Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece Jane Eyre continues to sell even 150 years after its release and has been mimicked ever since. What makes Jane Eyre so captivating to a modern audience is the plainness of the eponymous main character, a trait that is not found in many classic novels. It seems as though readers always turn to Jane Eyre when they feel the way she does throughout the majority of the novel; depressed and useless. Charlotte Brontë’s excellent use of character development amazingly turns a rather bleak story into an optimistic one of triumph and love. Charlotte Brontë uses her abilities as a writer to manipulate Jane’s voice throughout the novel by creating parallels between herself and Jane as a narrator by simulating the development of her character through her own description of events in Jane’s life, and as Jane recalls specific events from her childhood leading up to her marriage to Mr. Rochester she includes with beautiful detail the emotions she felt at every important moment, encapsulating the development of her character from her lonesome days at Gateshead to her wicked but motivating years at Lowood Institution and ending with the memories of her life in Thornfield and Ferndean.

As a child, Jane was emotionally scarred by numerous events that shaped her as a person from birth to her days with her wicked Aunt Reed. Born into poverty, Jane’s parents worked in order to help the poor which eventually lead to their typhus-related deaths. As an orphan, Jane was taken in by her Aunt Reed to live at Gateshead with her cousins John, Georgiana, and Eliza. This side of her family is known for being quite wealthy, and Jane is excited by this fact until she learns the horrible nature of her family. Tormented by her Aunt and cousins, particularly John, Jane is humiliated on a daily basis. Still, Jane explains that she would rather live this horrible life in a luxurious home than live in poverty. “Poverty looks grim to grown people; still more so to children: they have not much idea of industrious, working, respectable poverty; they think of the world only as connected with ragged clothes, scanty food, fireless grates, rude manners, and debasing vices: poverty for me was synonymous with degradation” (24). Later, Jane realizes the awful truth that even the richest people can be plagued by immorality, but she is oblivious to this as a child. Jane also sees herself as somewhat supernatural after a traumatic experience in what is referred to as the red-room, the place where her Uncle Reed died. After being locked in the room as punishment, Jane stares at herself in the mirror and sees herself “like one of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp” (14). Suddenly, “a light gleamed on the wall. Was it, I asked myself, a ray from the moon penetrating some aperture in the blind? No; moonlight was still, and this stirred; while I gazed, it glided up to the ceiling and quivered over my head” (17). As an adult, Jane tries to come up with a rational explanation for this light, but the event traumatized her as a child for she believed she was in the presence of her Uncle’s spirit. Brontë changes Jane’s voice in this particular scene...
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