The traditional Bildungsroman novel is autobiographical in form and displays similarities with the author's own life, mostly with regard to childhood experiences. The novel displays a single individuals growth and development within the context of a defined social order. In most cases the protagonist is orphaned and experiences some form of loss or discontentment in order to spur them away from the family home or setting. The education of the main character is another aspect, which is crucial to their growth and development within the novel. It states in Todd (1980; 161) 1. that?
'Ideally Bildungsroman heroes, who continue to pursue their own adolescent ideals and inclinations, are expected to conform eventually to a predetermined identity and become integrated with the society whose values are creating and molding them'.
Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations and described Pips childhood experiences in great detail. It has been argued that most of the child characters Dickens portrayed in his novels resembled that of his own childhood experiences.
Like Pip, Dickens received very little in the way of formal education.
Charlotte Bronte uses many similarities in Jane Eyre that could be argued resemble her own experiences. She too like that of Jane was the daughter of a clergyman and was sent to a school called Norwood, which bares many similarities with that of Lowood. She also became a governess and this suggests that her own experience of a middle class working woman fighting to find a place in Victorian society was used to express her own views of life in that of Jane Eyre.
In Great Expectations, Pip is typical of the main character in a Bildungsroman novel, as he is an orphan. Pip is brought up in a working class environment with his older sister and her husband, Joe Gargery. Pip rejects...
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Bronte’s Bildungsroman: Jane Eyre From a seed to a flower, Spreading itself like a weed Through the world. From a chick-let to a hawk, Spreading it’s wings and soaring high Through the heavens. A rose unfolding its petals, Showing its beauty to the world. A sponge soaking up water, Like a mind with the knowledge Of the world. I am here And I am ready to take on the world.
Such are the aspirations of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre who grows up moving from a radical stage to “a more pragmatic consciousness” From unloved, penniless orphan to treasured, upper class wife, the story of Jane in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is one of development and personal growth. When published, Charlotte Bronte took a male pseudonym in order to avoid prejudices based on gender (Guy). While speculation on the identity of the author was a factor in the popularity of Jane Eyre, the story of Jane’s character kept the audience reading.
As a novel in the bildungsroman genre, the narrative carries readers through the development of Jane and her “healthy self-interest and rebellious questioning of rules and conventions” (Watkins). Readers are introduced to Jane when she is a young girl living in the manor known as Gateshead. As an orphan, Jane is isolated and unloved by the Reeds, the family of the house. The lack of compassion for Jane is evident when she is locked in the “Red Room,” a haunting chamber where the last of Jane’s known blood relatives died. Mrs.
Reed’s harsh punishment of Jane and the cruelty the orphan faces from the other children of the house leave Jane without a sense of belonging. Early in the story, Jane’s questions of belonging connect the novel to the bildungsroman genre. Jane’s desire for a better life is seemingly fulfilled when she learns she will be leaving Gateshead for the Lowood School. However, a cruel and abusive headmaster leaves Jane wondering if her situation will ever truly change. Fortunately, a fellow student named Helen Burns befriends Jane.
Her deep religious beliefs and ability to suppress anger show Jane a new way to view her situation. Through her friendship with Helen, Jane is exposed to an alternative point of view that helps her grow emotionally and mentally. Many critics are of the view that Helen who is an ethereal and oblivious soul brings forth the spiritual facet to Jane. It is suitable to hail Helen as the “Little Rose” of Emily Dickinson as, Nobody knows this little Rose- It might a pilgrim be Did I not take it from the ways
And lift it up to thee. Only a bee will miss it- Only a butterfly, Hastening from far journey- On its breast to lie- Only a bird will wonder- Only a breeze will sigh- Ah Little Rose-how easy For such as thee to die! Helen’s death comes as a result of poor living conditions at the school, a situation similar to the death of Charlotte Bronte’s sisters, Maria and Elizabeth (Homans). Experiencing the death of a friend at such a young age forces Jane into a very adult situation early in life.
Once again, the placement of a child or childlike character in an adult situation emphasizes Jane Eyre as a coming of age story. Jane’s development continues throughout her time at Lowood as she transitions from a pupil to an instructor. However, Jane soon finds her position unfulfilling; her longing for something more drives her to a governess position at Thornfield manor. During the Victorian era in which the novel was written, the position of governess was one of the only occupations available to women. In fact, Charlotte Bronte worked as a governess from 1839 to 1841.
Bronte hated being a governess because she felt like an “inferior who was not ‘considered as a living and rational being except as connected with the wearisome duties she has to fulfill’” (Homans). Contrary to Bronte’s experience, Jane is described as excited and anxious at the new prospect of the occupation. At Thornfield, Jane teaches a French girl named Adele. Abandoned by her mother and cared for by Mr. Rochester, the owner of Thornfield, Adele is essentially an orphan like Jane. Luckily for Adele, she has been loved and cared for while at Thornfield.
Mr. Rochester intrigues Jane, eventually becoming a love interest. This romantic interest is realized by Jane and by readers through the appearance of Blanche Ingram. As an attractive, upper class woman, Jane becomes convinced that Rochester will soon marry Blanche. The comparison in the novel of Jane and Blanche points out the class differences essential to social norms of the Victorian era. Jane’s jealousy of Blanche and romantic interest in Mr. Rochester displays the evolution of Jane from a child to a woman who longs for more than familial love.
When Rochester proposes to Jane instead of Blanche, she accepts. Following the theme of difficulty throughout Jane’s life, the wedding ceremony does not go according to plan. It is revealed that Rochester is already married to a woman, as he later explains, who is mentally insane and who has been locked in the attic at Thornfield the entire time Jane has been governess. As a result of this new information, Jane rejects Rochester’s proposal to move away and get married. Instead, she abandons the love she has always longed for to preserve her self-respect.
Leaving Thornfield opens the next chapter of Jane’s life. After fleeing from Thornfield, Jane once again finds herself penniless and alone. Jane nearly circles back to having nothing and knowing nobody. Again, the difficulty of life for characters in bildungsroman genre novels applies to Jane. Luckily, the Rivers family takes her in and provides her with much more than the necessities. When St. John, the head of the Rivers household, notifies Jane of an inheritance, it is revealed that the Rivers are cousins of Jane. By finally connecting with family, Jane finds a sense of belonging.
Yet despite St. John’s proposal of marriage and life with him as a missionary in India, Jane decides to return to Thornfield. Upon her return, Jane finds Thornfield burned to the ground. It is later explained that Rochester’s wife set fire to the manor and jumped to her death. Finding Mr. Rochester blind and injured in his new home, Ferndean, Jane rekindles the relationship. As a consequence, the infamous line “Reader, I married him” draws the novel toward closure. Jane then joyfully describes her life with a partially blind Edward Rochester and a son.
Jane Eyre is a coming-of-age story that was rebellious for the Victorian era. Throughout the novel, “the progress of Jane Eyre can be charted through a sequential arrangement of the family/counter-family dyad” (Spivak). Her development and growth throughout the novel is emphasized by her beginning as a lonely, penniless orphan to her solidified place in society as an heiress with her own family. Through self-reliance, questioning of her surroundings, and her healthy self-respect, Jane blossoms despite her orphan status. In the end, it is Jane who creates her own family and happiness.
Psychological maturation is a typical trait of Bildungsroman genre. The German word”Bildungsroman” means “novel of education or novel of formation” is a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood (coming of age), and in which, therefore, character change is extremely important. The folklore tale of the dunce who goes out into the world seeking adventure and learns wisdom the hard way was raised to literary heights in Christoph Martin’s “History of Agathon”.
The term was coined in 1819 by philologist Karl Morgenstern in his university lectures, and later famously reprised by Wilhelm Dilthey, who legitimized it in 1870 and popularized it in 1905. The birth of the Bildungsroman is normally dated to the publication Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship by Johann Wolfgang Goethe in 1795–96. Although the Bildungsromana rose in Germany, it has had extensive influence first in Europe and later throughout the world. In the 20th century, it has spread to Germany, Britain, France, and several other countries around the globe.
Philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey stressed five main points about the bildungsroman novels: “(1) the idea of Bildung, or formation, cultivation, education, shaping of a single main character, normally of a young man; (2) individualism, especially the emphasis on the uniqueness of the protagonist and the primacy of his private life and thoughts, although these are at the same time representative of an age and culture; (3) the biographical element, usually supplied from the author’s own life in what Dilthey calls the ” conscious and artistic presentation of what is typically human through the depiction of a particular individual life”; (4) the connection with psychology, especially the then-new psychology of development; and (5) the ideal of humanity, of the full realization of all human potential as the goal of life”. On his essay on Holderlin, he comments: “[The Bildungsroman] examines a regular course of development in the life of the individual; each of its stages has its own value and each is at the same time the basis of a higher stage. The dissonances and conflicts of life appear as the necessary transit points of the individual on his way to maturity and harmony. And the ‘highest happiness of humankind’ is the development of the person as the unifying, substantial form of human existence” The bildungsroman traditionally ends on a positive note though its action maybe tempered by resignation and nostalgia.
If the grandiose dreams of hero’s youth are over, so are many mistakes and painful disappointments, especially in the 19th century novels, a life of usefulness lies ahead. In the 20th century and beyond, however, the bildungsroman genre ends in resignation or death. Essentially, the bildungsroman genre demands internal movement in its protagonist- from innocence to maturity, from ignorance to knowledge. This internal movement is mirrored by external movement, these movements act as a sort of catalyst to introduce the protagonist to obstacles and challenges the rules of society. This genre actually demands its protagonist to be pushed out into the world by subverting any sort of ependency and thus pave the way for the hero to find his self-fulfilling quest in a solitary fashion. In Jane Eyre, which is a part autobiographical, there is rebellion of Charlotte Bronte, portrayed in the novel, against the suppression and defeat of female autonomy, creativity and maturity by patriarchal norms and her struggle to write as an independent female writer. When Gilbert and Gubar wrote that “women in patriarchal societies have historically been imprisoned in male texts” they were referring not only to the stereotypes which, following the binary pattern of angel/monster “kill” women into images of themselves, but also, in the wider sense, to the female writer’s problematic struggle for artistic self-definition.
This, they argued, was complicated not only by the representation of the female as Other in male texts but also by the patriarchal notion that “the male quality” as Gerald Manley Hopkins defined it, “is the creative gift”, and the assumption that, if this is so, the reverse must be true. In light of the pervasive view that, in Gilbert and Gubar’s words, the “writer fathers his text just as God fathered the world” it is perhaps understandable that Charlotte Bronte, having, as she said, “a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice”, refused to give up her androgynous alias Currer Bell throughout her literary career.
In fact, in many ways, Charlotte Bronte typifies the woman writer’s struggle to escape from the male text, in both the negative and positive sense. Like countless other female writers, it was probably the fear that she would be termed “a woman and not an artist” as Graham Bretton says of Vashti in Villette, which drove her to disguise her gender. However, although her metaphorical male impersonation in her first novel, The Professor may have allowed her to overcome what Gilbert and Gubar termed “anxiety of authorship”, in trying to deny her gender Bronte created an identity crisis as serious as the anxiety she was attempting to escape from, and inevitably cut herself off from what has often been described as the source of her riginality and power – her own experience of life. In her two most successful novels, Jane Eyre and Villette, Charlotte Bronte breaks away from Crimsworth, the first person male narrator in the Professor, and speaks instead through Jane and Lucy’s predecessor: Frances Henri, the woman who felt “the strong pulse of Ambition. ” Subverting elements of the Gothic tradition, she adapts the prose fiction form she had used in the Professor – the Bildungsroman – to represent the power women can take for themselves. In writing her first novel, Bronte said that she had “restrained imagination, eschewed romance, repressed excitement” and even avoided “over-bright colouring”.
She had, in other words, distanced herself as much as possible from the world of Angria, with its rich, often extravagant imagination and intense emotion, in order to produce “something which should be soft, grave and true. ” This determination to abide by the subdued realism of the autobiographical novel of the time can be seen as another aspect of Bronte’s male mimicry, her “desire to appear male” as Gaskell called it. It could be said that in setting out to reproduce the Bildungsroman as she found it, she implicitly accepted that in order to write publicly – to write seriously – she had to write in the style created for and by men, thereby also accepting the underlying patriarchal idea of creativity as a male quality.
However, cut off from the Angrian world, which, as Margaret Lane has noted, “lay very near the heart of her inspiration”, she was, not surprisingly, unable to truly express her self, and the result was that The Professor was not published until 1857, two years after her death. During her lifetime, she had to, as she said, ‘put him by and lock[ed] him up’. And with ‘him’, she seems to have locked up her futile efforts to duplicate the male autobiographical novel, at least in so far as imitating it’s style and structure were concerned, as Jane Eyre demonstrates. In her second novel, instead of suppressing her secret world, Bronte utilized it, and even at times expressed herself through it.
Angria, as Kathleen Tillotson has argued, became a positive value for the first time, as the author framed her heroine’s story with material from her fantasy world, and in doing so, personalized the Bildungsroman to fit her distinctly female narrative. Despite her recognition of the dangers on the dream, her conviction that ‘it would not do’, her claim that she had ‘had enough of morbidly vivid realisations’, Charlotte Bronte, as her biographer Juliet Barker notes, “had never lost her childhood addiction to mystery and the magical and supernatural. ” This ‘childhood addiction’ pervades her novels – the Angrian fantasy world, the sometime oppressive golden dream, combining with elements of the Gothic tradition to produce something that often seems to be poised between the sensational, or at least, the unrealistically “improbable” and what G.
H Lewes described as “deep, significant reality. ” It is through this paradoxical position that Charlotte Bronte adapted the forms she makes use of in both Jane Eyre and Villette. On the one hand, by allowing herself to make use of her Angrian fantasy world, she breaks away from the tradition of realism in the Bildungsroman, on the other hand, she carefully disinfects her novel of “feverish emotion” by subverting and undermining the melodramatic Gothic conventions she uses. As Gilbert and Gubar put it, she committed herself to “an oscillation between overtly “angelic” dogma and covertly satanic fury”. The author’s choice of this form is, as Kathleen Tillotson argues, of vital importance.
Not only because, as has often been noted, Bronte’s personal life was the substance of her novels and the Bildungsroman allowed her to communicate her experience while fictionalizing it, but also because, in her use of a feminine first-person narrator she was able to achieve a degree of focus which imparted not only remarkable unity, but also total identification with her heroines. In contrast to the Professor, where the narrator is a somewhat effete male (until he becomes “Master” to Frances Henri), and Shirley, where Bronte split her third person narrative between two female protagonists, in Jane Eyre and Villette the heroine narrator is always there, at the center of the novel – in Jane Eyre, we follow the heroine in a mythic mystery quest, in Villette we observe with the observer Lucy Snowe. In Jane Eyre, the identification with the heroine is obvious – it is almost impossible not to be drawn into her life.
Much of this may stem from the fact that we follow her life from childhood, as in a typical autobiography, although of course the narrative ends, famously with “Reader, I married him” and not, as in a male autobiography, with the prospect of a successful career. The story of great expectations is an exclusively male text, tracing a man’s journey through life. Charlotte Bronte could not imitate it, for she was not only telling the story of a woman, but as Gilbert and Gubar said of Lucy, a “woman without”. It is this, perhaps, which most necessitated Bronte’s adaptations to the Bildungsroman. Lucy may be “without” in the sense of outside, society, without family, wealth, beauty, or even the degree of ‘passion’ that attracts Rochester to Jane; however, she is certainly not without imagination.
Bronte, while she could not mimic the male autobiographical novel in the Professor, (because she was like Lucy “without” – on the outside, looking in) could and did successfully tell the same story from the woman’s point of view, writing not in the accepted feminine style, but from and within her own Angrian world of imagination and emotion. If this parallels the male/female, reason/ emotion binary, then, arguably, like Martineau’s criticism that Villette’s female characters think only of love, this is precisely the point. What other way of escape is there? It has been said that the paradoxical nature of women’s existence is that it is often only on the condition of being possessed by another that they are judged to have ‘become’ their mature selves.
If, as in Lucy’s case, this fails, there is only the escape of imagination left – imagination often bordering on hysteria. Jane, on the other hand, is eventually reunited with Rochester – although the seclusion of Ferndean may suggest that it is only in this sort of physical and spiritual isolation that it is possible to escape from the confines of hierarchal society. Some have argued that ultimately, in marriage, Jane abandons her rebellious feminism, retreating finally from her the red room and Bertha, her double, the figure she sees first in the red room looking glass. Yet, on the other hand, it could be argued that Jane has undeniably emerged from her quest not only to a happy ending, but also to an independent, more empowered position.
The slight ambiguity in the conventional ending here foreshadows the much greater and more deliberate ambiguity in Villette, where the reader is left to choose between the two possible fates – death or marriage. Gilbert and Gubar note that the indecisive endings of the author’s novels suggest that she was finally “unable clearly to envision viable solutions to the problem of patriarchal oppression”, acting out “the passionate drive towards freedom” but never fully able to “define the full meaning of achieved freedom”. In contrast to Jane, who “continually, quietly, triumphantly” occupies the center, as Tillotson says, Lucy is most often in the shadows, especially in the first few chapters. Yet she is never distant, despite the fact that the reader knows so little about her early life, and may be tempted to ask, with Ginevra: “Who are you? ”
The reader’s identification with Lucy despite the mystery that continually cloaks her can be seen as a result of the author’s unswerving focus, unswerving in the sense that, if Lucy is standing in the shadows, so is the reader, observing through her. Yet our impression of Lucy, as Tillotson notes, is not of a character seen ironically, a character we are “invited to understand better than it does itself. ” This can be seen as another aspect of the author’s juxtaposition of narrative modes for the representation of the self. In Villette, Bronte combines the biblical tradition of stories of moral trails, with the protestant spiritual autobiography of education, and examines one of the main beliefs the Bildungsroman is based on – a belief in the knowable self. Bronte rejects this idea, remarking through Lucy: “We can never be rightly known. ”
This conviction – that the knowable self isn’t, in fact, knowable – underlies the oxymoron of Lucy’s name, which suggests both brightness for a figure always in the shadows, and light, which reveals, while Snowe suggests something which conceals and buries, “a cold name for an overheated temperament” in Tim Dolbin’s phrase. This self-contradictory name captures one of the main themes of the novel – the oppositions of surface and depth, illusion and reality, emphasizing the deceptiveness of appearances, as the reader finds what seems to be full of meaning is simultaneously empty of meaning Similarly, Jane Eyre’s name summarizes her position, as Gilbert and Gubar note: she is invisible as air, heir to nothing, and “secretly choking with ire. Jane’s repressed rebelliousness obviously parallels her repressed emotions on some levels – moral feeling subjected to the consciousness of various new impulses is after all the only ‘story’ the novel tells – however, it is her anger, rather than the “asocial sexual vibrations” of the novel, which so disturbed the early reviewers. The focal point of the narrative is not in the tension of her confrontations with Rochester, but in the horror of seeing Bertha and confronting her own repressed rage. The “little fierce incendiary” as Margaret Olliphant called her, sets out from Gateshead on a journey full of obstacles, which only ends with the symbolic and literal death of her double, allowing the conventional ending that Bertha had forbidden.
Hardly disguised in the novel’s fairy tale structure, these obstacles are “symptomatic of difficulties Everywoman in a patriarchal society must meet and overcome”. Each step in Jane’s journey takes her to another kind of imprisonment in a succession of male-owned structures, which however, are significantly ‘kept’ by women. First, she is locked into the red room by Mrs Reed, her uncle’s widow, in Lowood, Miss Temple works for Mr Brocklehurst, in Thornfield, Jane at first believes Miss Fairfax to be her employer when she is in fact ‘only’ the housekeeper, while Grace Poole guards the madwoman for Rochestor. Finally in Marsh End, Diana and Mary, allegorically symbolizing the Great Mother in her dual aspects, care for Jane while St. John analyses her character. All through the novel omen are seen to be agents for men, pointing perhaps to Bronte’s recognition that women are often the first to inhibit other women from power, although they are simultaneously imprisoning themselves, as Grace Poole, in constantly guarding Bertha, is a prisoner of the attic herself. Ultimately, the women Jane encounters are all negative models, the antithesis of the values she stands for, from Adele, symbolizing society’s love of beauty, to Blanche, and the marriage market charade. Even Grace Pool, who is Bertha’s public face, is ‘unfathomable’: the darkness of madness. Like Bronte, Jane has no predecessors, no positive examples, to guide her on her quest.
If Villette is “a series of deprivations”, Jane Eyre could be described as ‘a series of enclosures and escapes’, escapes from oppression, confinement, starvation, madness and apathy. Both Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe’s autobiographies are ultimately stories of entrapment – or burial – in the structure of patriarchal society. There may seem to be no place for the sort of unlikely coincidences, psychological doubles, melodramatic Gothic elements, and romantic obsessions which pervade both novels in such a subject and in such a form, however, this is precisely Bronte’s achievement: her own escape from the confinements of male conventions. Charlotte Bronte invites the comparison of Jane Eyre with other rebellious figures and times in history.
Nancy Pell wrote: “Two allusions in the novel to actual rebellions… Suggest Charlotte Bronte’s awareness that Jane’s struggle for a wider life has significant historical implications” . Kathryn Sutherland takes this further, and reveals how the novel abounds in references to revolutionary years. For instance, the year in which Jane Eyre reached its audience was 1848, when the Germans and Italians were fighting a popular battle for independence. This is mere coincidence though, one which provided a useful context for anonymous reviewers to attack the novel. Yet Bronte did write the novel less than a mile away from St. Peter’s Fields in Manchester, site of the Peterloo massacre. 819 was a year when revolution, as Sutherland argues, was a real possibility, especially when protesters were shot at and killed, amongst whom were “the Female Unions, demanding, like Jane, their chartered rights as women workers” . It is significant, therefore, that Jane begins her narrative in this year. Miss Abbot describes Jane as `Guy Fawkes’, the famous incendiary plotter. There are a lot of fires in the novel, but these are set off by Bertha Rochester, who some critics see as Jane’s alter ego. Richard Chase wrote that Jane asked herself, “May not Bertha… Be a living example of what happens to the woman who gives herself to the Romantic Hero, who in her insane suffragettism tries herself to play the Hero, to be the fleshy vessel of the elan? ” .
It is an interesting idea, but not much more than that, for Chase fails to consider the fact that Bertha was mad before her marriage. Besides, Bertha is the mistress of Thornfield, so Jane is the transgressor. Bertha uses fire contrary to Fawkes’ – she is trying to restore the rightful authority. Moreover, it is on Guy Fawkes’ night that St. John discovers Jane’s true identity. Some critics have seen the burning of Thornfield as a very powerful wish fulfillment on Jane’s part, resulting in the convenient death of Bertha. However, November 5th has another connotation, which is probably more in keeping with Jane’s predicament, and that is the anniversary of William and Mary in the Glorious Revolution.
This was supposedly a peaceful takeover of power, except of course, in Ireland. Yet Sutherland dares to suggest that there may be “grounds for considering Fanny as the truer Bonaparte of the two” . For, like Jane Eyre, Fanny Price was born in the revolutionary year of 1789. This relies on a comment by Marx, stating that history repeated itself; the first time as tragedy, and the second time as farce. Yet few critics would argue for Fanny above Jane in terms of heroic status. Women, such as Adrienne Rich (7), feel a great deal of identification with Jane that they would never feel with Fanny. This is because Fanny is a paradox, as Weinsheimer wrote.
Paula Cohen must think Fanny a very insignificant figure indeed if she can write that: “Mansfield Park is Jane Austen’s one novel in which the life of the family takes precedence over the life of the individual” . This is not necessarily so, for although Fanny comes to Mansfield as an outsider, she eventually becomes the keystone of the household and its morals. Comparing Bronte’s Jane Eyre to Jane Austen’s Fanny Price reveals the extent to which she is not the conventional woman. Before Fanny is brought to live at Mansfield Park, Mrs Norris worries that, if pretty, she will tempt Tom or Edmund to marry her. Fanny proves not to be the siren her aunt has feared but her self effacement, timidity and frailty are exactly the qualities Mrs Linton says are required to attract male attention, and Austen does not prove her wrong.
From childhood Fanny inspires Edmund to protect and care for her and she grows to provide a moral base from which he can act. That he is wrong to disregard this is illustrated in the incident of the play; Fanny confirms Edmund’s inner conviction that it is wrong to take part but he disregards her advice, partly due to his flirtation with Mary Crawford, and has to endure the consequences. When he rejects Mary’s sexual allure for Fanny’s strong morality, their happy marriage reinforces the rightness of his choice. Where Fanny from childhood is modest and restrained, Jane struggles with an overly passionate nature, and despite the efforts of Mr Brocklehurst to “render [his pupils] hardy, patient and self denying” becomes a passionate woman.
Her patience and submission are not internalised as Fanny’s are, but a facade kept in place by acts of self punishment (the portraits of herself and Blanche Ingram) as harsh as any contrived by her aunt or Brocklehurst. When Rochester finally declares his love for her the scene is one of overwhelming emotion and the facade is removed. Mrs Fairfax correctly identifies the sexual tension between them when she advises “Try and keep Mr Rochester at a distance: distrust yourself as well as him. ” and although Jane achieves this she says “I could not, in those days, see God for his creature of whom I had made an idol. ” In allowing her sexual feelings to take precedence over her love for God, Jane has failed to provide the moral centre required for a happy union and secure family life.
She realises something of this – the interruption of the marriage service forces her to recognise the inadequacy of passion alone as a basis for happiness and to acknowledge the vital role of society and the Church. She rejects her passion in favour of self respect and leaves Thornfield Hall. At Moor House the sexual/moral conundrum is explored again through St John’s relationship with Rosamond. Rosamond is innocent and childlike, but her effect on St John is clearly a sensual one. He describes her as a temptation, and says “When I colour and when I shake before Miss Oliver I do not pity myself. I scorn the weakness. I know it is ignoble; a mere fever of the flesh. St John recognises the nature of the temptation Rosamond represents, and can see that even her inadvertent sexual allure threatens his commitment to become a missionary, and therefore his moral well being. He chooses instead to offer marriage to Jane whom he does not love and who he knows does not love him. Superficially this would appear to be an ideal match, offering St John the role of teacher and provider, and Jane an opportunity to absolve her rejection of God in self effacement and obedience. However, Jane has shown in her refurbishment of Moor House and her pleasure in her new found cousins that through her sufferings her passions have matured to a traditional feminine desire for home and family.
St John’s religious fervour will never allow him to offer this since “he was of the material from which nature hews her heroes … a steadfast bulwark for great interests to rest upon; but at the fireside, too often a cold cumbrous column, gloomy and out of place. ” His morality comes from his inner convictions and he would usurp Jane’s place at the moral centre of the family. He offers great deeds in the world but he would deny her a true woman’s role. Now that Jane has fully accepted that role she is free to return to Rochester, who has bowed to her moral guidance by remaining at Thornfield Hall rather than returning to his life of reckless sensuality. His taking responsibility for Bertha in trying to rescue her from the fire at the risk of his own life is both his salvation and his punishment for past transgressions.
He is freed of his wife but at the price of his hand and sight, and through them, his pride. Jane and Rochester’s second courtship lacks the all consuming passion of the first, it is of the spirit not the senses, and gives due gratitude and humility to God. Their marriage, like Fanny and Edmund’s, is dealt with by the author in an understated way, since it serves only to confirm the rightness of their reformed relationship. On the other hand,Jane Eyre and Through the Looking-Glass both take the form of coming-of-age stories wherein youthful naivete hinders the protagonists in their struggle to understand the uncharmed underpinnings of human nature.
The contradiction between naive moral faith and gloomy uncertainty frequently occurred in nineteenth-century society. Such a disjunction in ethos appears in representations of contemporary Victorian life itself. Robert F. Jordan points out that popular notions of Victorian life as cozy and picturesque hardly fit the hurly burly of Victorian reality: That earnest world of Tractarian parsons and Oxford common-rooms, that world of Hardy’s peasants buried deep in English shires, did really exist. Of course it did. But it was not very important. By and large Victorian England was a tremendously virile and very terrible affair. [“The Reality of Victorianism”] The characters Jane and Alice have not yet experienced such a loss of innocence.
Charlotte Bronteand Lewis Carroll, however, clearly suffer from no such similar illusions of human perfection. Alice tries hard to invoke the ethos of Christian charity to find redeemable qualities in the Walrus and the Carpenter. Yet, Tweedledee and Tweedledum quickly dispense with such simplistic, idealized notions of morality. That Alice is puzzled suggests that she herself is not entirely oblivious: at least she sees a disjunction between her perception and theirs. On the other hand, Jane alternates between being entirely unaware and ruthlessly critical. After her first betrothal to Edward Rochester, she retires for the evening, a storm raging outside. Rochester himself apparently has trouble nestling in for the evening, for Jane comments, “Mr.
Rochester came thrice to my door in the course of it [the storm], to ask if I was safe and tranquil: and that was comfort, that was strength for anything. ” Never mind that Jane, with her demonstrated proclivity for superstition, does not notice the ominous portent of the raging storm. The real extent of her naivete about human motivation is evident when she fails to consider that Rochester may have had less platonic comforts in mind. The naivete of Jane also manifests in the dark ominous character of Bertha Mason who according to some critics stands as the alter-ego of Jane Eyre. Bertha is a hot molten lava of a volcano blast who has the tendency to burn down her environs into cinders as she does when she makes an unsuccessful attempt to set fire to Mr. Rochester’s bedroom.
Many critics are of the opinion that while Jane Eyre is a dormant volcano with brooding passions in her bosom with no outlet , Bertha is a fierce, luciferous, passionate , beastly being living in oblivion , who to a certain extent expounds the dark and wild side of Jane Eyre which is showcased in the instance when she attacks her cousin John Reed like a “Madcat”. The madness which flows in the veins of Bertha Mason or “ The Mad Woman In The Attic” and the madness thudding in the feeble heart of Jane Eyre are similar to an extent. Scrutinizing the characters of both Bertha and Jane, one may recall the Russian folktale “The white duck” wherein Bertha symbolizes the demonic Black Swan and Jane, pure , feeble and scrupulous creature who would be well suited if hailed” The white swan” .
In the blossoming phase of the little bud Jane , she has to withstand the ferocious hurricane( Aunt Reed) which uprooted her innate innocence and consequently the little plant swayed amid the dark and white forces of her nature. The bildungsroman element lies in this amalgamation of the black and white disposition of Jane Eyre and how in the tug of war the White Swan emerge victorious whereas the Black Swan is lost in the shadows as destiny would choose the reaper. Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason are oppressed by the system of British patriarchy, in which men are the makers , interpreters and enforcers of social and political rules in both the private and public domain. However , these two women differ greatly in the ways that they accept and cope with the reality of their place in society , and it is these differences that ultimately determine their fate.
Jane is “quaint, quiet , grave and simple” in the eyes of Mr. Rochester and is often described as “small and pale” whereas Bertha is a “big woman , in stature almost equaling her husband and corpulent besides” with “a virile force and purple …bloated features”. Jane fits the idea of conventional Victorian women who revolves around the domestic sphere of a family. Middle class women were brought up “ be pure and innocent, tender and sexually undemanding, submissive and obedient” to fit the glorified , “Angels in the House”, the Madonna-image of the time. A women had no rights of her own and ; she was expected to marry and become the servant of her husband.
Few professions other than that of governess were open to educated women of the time who needed a means to support themselves. Higher education was considered wasted on women because they were considered mentally inferior to men and moreover, work was believed to make them ill. Girls were basically educated to be on display as ornaments. Passion and a hot temper in a woman were not appropriate at the time and had to be repressed. Jane , the free bird broke all the conventions of the times and emerged as a headstrong of a girl , disentangling herself from the clutches of patriarchy and social dogmas. Along with striking at various social issues Charlotte Bronte’s remarkable use of gothic element presented in spasmodic manner is a major streak in “Jane Eyre”.
As examples of the Female Gothic romance in a Bildungroman, Jane Eyre and Rebecca offer similar heroines, heroes, and assorted plot devices. As the narrator and central focus of the plot, Jane Eyre offers an ideal characterizations of the Gothic romance heroine. In her article “The Utopian Impulse in Popular Literature: Gothic romances and ‘Feminist’ Protest,” Janice Radway offers a thorough analysis of the typical heroine in a Gothic romance novel: “she…is obsessed with her unexceptional appearance… sexually innocent and highly romantic… [and] marked by [a] self-deprecatory tendency. ” These traits combine in a perfect recipe for a woman in distress, controlled by her environment, and suffering from a near-constant state of anxiety.
Rebecca’s narrator I fits this description perfectly, especially considering that she doesn’t even think to give the reader her own name! These anxieties prompt her to make outlandish statements about her wishes to change. On one drive through Monte Carlo with her new friend Maxim de Winter, she declares boldly: “I wish I were a woman of 36, dressed in black satin with a string of pearls” (Du Maurier, 37). Her story is riddled with such self-deprecatory comments and her relationship with Maxim is marked by her feelings of inferiority. She is baffled by Maxim’s attention, believing he spends time with her to be polite. Once they are married and arrive at Manderley, I’s feeling of inadequacy is only exacerbated by the constant comparisons by those around her to the previous Mrs. e Winter, the book’s eponymous Rebecca. Living under the shadow of Rebecca, the narrator struggles against her own anxieties and doubts, as well as an unfriendly staff, to find a way to survive in the chilled atmosphere at Manderley with a man she believes does not and cannot love her. In her own story, Jane Eyre struggles with many of the same insecurities about her appearance, moral character, and deservedness of affection. Because Bronte begins her story much earlier in the life of her heroine than does Du Maurier, readers get to experience many of the events that shape Jane’s self-doubts, including living with an abusive aunt and attending a horrific boarding school.
The effect is the same, however, leaving Jane feeling unloved and unworthy enough to be suspicious of any expression of affection. In fact, when Rochester finally reveals his feelings and asks for Jane’s hand in marriage, she scoffs and assumes he is joking. She asks him to face her so she can “read [his] countenance” (Bronte, 257). Once Rochester has convinced her of his honesty and Jane accepts the proposal, her self-image shifts abruptly: I looked at my face in the glass, and felt it was no longer plain: there was hope in its aspect, and life in its colour: and my eyes seemed as if they had beheld the fount of fruition, and borrowed beams from the lustrous ripple.
I had often been unwilling to look at my master, because I feared he could not be pleased at my look; but I was sure I might lift my face to his now, and not cool his affection by its expression (Bronte, 259). This passage demonstrates just how delicate Jane’s self-perception is, that it may be shifted so drastically as soon as she accepts Rochester’s opinion of her to be true. Her very self-image is determined by those around her, revealing that Jane, although a survivor in the face of the bitterest adversity, has very little confidence and is run by her own self-deprecation. With these basic traits in common, Jane and I are the perfect Gothic heroines for their novels.
As such, they are primed for two similar story lines riddled with drama and anxiety and the brooding, troubled men that will serve as their Gothic heroes. Therefore, Charlotte Bronte’s timeless classic , “Jane Eyre” is a perfect example of a BILDUNGSROMAN , the education novel with mixed elements of feminism, gothic romance,social concerns and psychological issues. Adam Smykowski in his scholarly essay , “The Theme of Education versus Containment in Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE” (1996) explains that during this journey , Jane goes through the battle of education versus conatainment , where she attempts to learn about herself and about the physical world. She constantly struggles against both mental and physical containment .
This battle of education versus containment can be seen by following Jane through her different place of residence ,including Gateshead Hall, Lowood Institution , Thornfield , Moor House and Mortan , and Ferndean Manor where she is finally , fully educated and escapes the feeling of containment which she held throughout the novel. Mark Kinhead¬-Weekes in his lucid essay,”The Place of Love in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights,”says that,”Each of the houses is a metaphor,not of social order or disorder but of a condition of the private heart,and a stage in its progress towards the liberation of its buried life. ”(Kinheed-Weekes). Jane Eyre ,certainly,does come of age in Charlotte Bronte’s classic education novel. At the beginning of the book,Jane is a lonely dependent orphan girl, but she battles the constraints of her harsh upbringing and becomes educated ,not only intellectually,but socially and spiritually,as well.
She develops into a strong,confident and independent woman. She neither has to give up her spiritual beliefs nor her normal human desires for love to be genuinely happy. Jane becomes the epitome of the modern women,as she manages a perfect balance between both,the spiritual and the physical,which is what she really wanted in life. Ultimately Jane Eyre also proclaims the triumph of spiritual values over material ones,which is a leitmotif of all the Bronte novels. In Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte found a means of universalising the imaginative vision of Angria. The way the heroine tries to resolve various paradoxes give the novel a universal dimension.
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Jane wants to be overtly rational but yet trusts in intuition,imagination and vision. She wishes to remain passive yet enjoys the excitement of rebellion. She desires sexual satisfaction yet fears a life of passion. Margaret Bloom in her book on Charlotte Bronte aptly pinpoints the immense appeal of the novel Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte’s story of a plain orphan girl whose superior qualities are finally acknowledged and who gains the reward of love and power has become the modern version of the Cindrella tale;for Jane not only wins her Prince Charming but does so by steadfastly asserting her independence,becoming thereby not only his consort but his queen.
Author: Kimber Trivett
jane eyre as a bildungsroman
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