Charlotte Bronte's Influence On Jane Eyre

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Perhaps the Victorian Era’s most popular novelist once wrote, “The standard heroes and heroines of novels, are personages in whom I could never, from childhood upwards, take an interest, believe to be natural, or wish to imitate.” This influential source, otherwise known as Charlotte Bronte, supports her inventive writing style throughout her novel Jane Eyre, where her ability to portray such loveless adolescence for main character, Jane, stunned me, as the poor orphan culminated into a victorious, heroic adult. While motherhood during the Victorian Era was the gateway to female fulfillment in a male-dominant society, I questioned Bronte’s choice in constraining Jane to such a toxic, unbearable childhood without a mother, but sought even more,…show more content…
While simple research revealed to me, an obvious parallel in Bronte’s own unfortunate childhood, I demanded a deeper understanding of the rare success Jane achieves, hoping to uncover answers through the various mother figures Bronte creates to aid Jane’s search for a meaningful existence in society. Ultimately, I pursued the significance of these mother figures, questioning their influence on Jane’s conquering adulthood, when born into a relentless, motherless circumstance? Indeed, my preconceived opinions on the low standards of morality that orphans faced during the Victorian Era were further validated in Jane Eyre: The Quest for Optimism, as Frederick Ashe reveals the “ascetic abhorrence” they face, where antagonists Mr. Brocklehurst and Mrs. Reed instill a constant “sense of fear and guilt about any happiness on earth” (Ashe 123). Initially, I pitied the orphan, “invisible as air, the heir to nothing, secretly choking with ire,” and nearly gave up on the already slim chance of an optimistic future (Bronte 9). However, the quick but prominent interactions between Jane and her first “surrogate mother,” Bessie, established a…show more content…
Assuredly, I was able to uphold my argument of maternal significance in order for Jane to outgrow the deprived banishment at Gateshead, yet felt it necessary to look for a more educational and moral influence. It was immediately clear to me that Bronte posed Miss Temple as a substitute mother, noting how Jane “retain[s] the sense of admiring awe with which my [Jane] eyes traced her steps” (Bronte 62). I found Ruddy’s personal experience as a daughter, “so focused on our mothers that we…try to integrate…all warring aspects they present to us” to be the basis of the many lessons Jane evolves with (Ruddy 41). While diving into the interactions between Miss Temple and Jane, I found Bronte being much more literate in depicting motherly qualities. When Mr. Brocklehurst, an antagonistic symbol of the patriarchal society, labels Jane a liar, Miss Temple directs Jane to “defend yourself to me as well as you can. Say whatever your memory suggests as true, but add nothing and exaggerate nothing” (Bronte 86). Here, Bronte provides a clear indication of what Wiley and Putnam would call “regeneration of character,” because Jane subsequently reports acquiring “allegiance to duty and order” (Bronte 92). I concluded that

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