Jane Eyre – Violence
Discuss Charlotte Bronte’s use of
violence, in the text Jane Eyre, that captures the reader’s attention in
relation to scenes, settings and characterisations?
The author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte,
uses depictions of mental, physical and natural violence throughout the
text to interest the reader and create springboards towards more emotional
and dramatic parts of the novel. By doing this, Bronte not only uses
violence to capture the reader’s attention, but also leads the reader on
an interesting journey throughout the book. This violence is raised through
three particular things that include the following. Scenes, such as the
burning down of Mr. Rochester’s house by Bertha and the fight between Jane
and her cousin John. Settings that include the Red Room in which Jane Eyre
is locked in as a child and the Attic in which Bertha Mason is locked.
Also Characterisations of Bertha, Mrs. Reed and to some extent Jane herself
shed light on the use of violence.
Charlotte Bronte uses violence throughout
the book to keep the reader interested and at the same time creating a
springboard for emotional and dramatical scenes. The first instance of
this occurs when Jane is very young and she quarrels physically and verbally
with her cousin John. This leads to Jane being locked up in the Red Room,
which her uncle died in, and her transfer to Lowood, which is an institution
for orphaned children. Here Bronte characterised violence through
John by him attacking Jane, and Mrs. Reed by her locking Jane up in the
Red Room. The room being red is also significant in the use of violence,
as not only has someone died in it, but also the colour red is usually
associated with violence and anger.
John’s violent dominance towards Jane,
(pg. 17, Chapter 1, Volume 1), and Mrs. Reed locking her up in a room,
(pg. 18, Chapter 1, Volume 1), thus causing her to faint through fear,
is indeed a means of interesting readers. Through this violence, Jane then
proceeds to Lowood.
At Lowood she wins the friendship of everyone
there, but her life is difficult because conditions are poor at the school.
Dominated by Mr. Brocklehurst, Jane feels intimidated and the text begins
to lose its violent nature, including its interest. Jane begins to make
friends and the reader believes that there is no more violence throughout
the book. All up until typhus kills many of the students. Here the violence
of nature kills Jane’s best friend at the school, Helen Burns, (pg. 96,
Chapter 9, Volume 1),. Bronte used this scene to make Jane stronger
in the book, which is appropriate, as mentally strong people cope with
violence in a more rational way. This opens a gateway into more dramatic
scenes and Jane’s acknowledgement of death and violence.
As Jane grows up and passes the age of
eighteen, she advertises herself as a governess and is hired to a place
called Thornfield. It is here that the real violence of the story begins
and the reader is entranced with scenes that use suspense to ensure the
reader’s enjoyment of the book. Obviously Bronte knew that a thriller
(violence that is not fully revealed till the latter part of the book)
is a significant way to keep readers interested. So she writes a scene
where someone (Mr. Mason) is mysteriously stabbed (pg. 236, Chapter 5,
Volume 2), and doesn’t enlighten the reader on who did it but does hint
that someone else (Mr. Rochester) knows. There is no way of knowing why
this happened, who does it, or if Mr. Mason is going to live or die. That
is why Charlotte Bronte used violence to create this kind of suspense.
So a person would be interested enough in the novel to keep reading.
The mystery is a mystery itself, there
is a secret at Thornfield and Jane can sense this. Then there is the mystery
of the person who committed this act of violence. Jane suspects who it
might be, but she is not for sure. To find out the mystery of the house
and the person who did it is a wise way to capture a reader’s attention.
As the story unfolds, the reader finds out about a lady named Bertha, who
is Rochester’s original wife, and a character that strives on violent acts.
This is the part of the book that exclaims
that every character has violence, and if read carefully how very close
Jane is to Bertha. Jane describes Bertha as a ghost or a vampire after
the wedding veil is torn (pg. 316, Chapter 10, Volume 2). Mr. Rochester
similarly thinks of Jane as a spirit and witch. Bertha scratches and bite,
and Jane scratches her cousin John Reed. Bertha is tied to a chair and
locked in the attic, whilst Jane was told to sit in her chair and is locked
in the Red Room. This certifies that when Jane follows her passions and
loses her self-control she behaves and is punished like Bertha, therefore
Perceptively, the novel Jane Eyre is based
particularly around the depictions of violence as to grab the reader’s
attention. Charlotte Bronte’s views on the Victorian woman are indeed
not of what they were supposed to be. Therefore she wrote this story to
show everyone how women should see themselves and how they should be treated
no matter the cost. Her problem was not to translate her contention, but
keep the reader interested. She therefore used violence throughout the
novel and within scenes, settings and characters as she pleased to make
Jane Eyre a story of a woman’s dramatic journey through life depicting
dominance and violence.