How Does Bronte Use External Conflict

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Conflict is a writing device that many authors use to create a character’s sense of self. It can be Man versus Man, Man versus Self, or Man versus Nature. Bronte uses external conflict between Jane and various characters throughout the four settings in the novel to shape and define Jane. Ironically, as Jane is asked to change or give up part of herself through this Man versus Man conflict, Jane ultimately finds out who she is. The first hint of conflict can be seen in the opening scene at Gateshead. Jane, as a young girl, deals with many battles throughout her family. Including her cousin John Reed. John Reed attacks Jane for reading one of “[his]” books (Bronte 13). This conflict was the turning point in Jane’s young life, which is why Bronte…show more content…
Jane handles the fight like she’s been used to it. She obeys his commands “habitually” and prepares herself for his strike (Bronte 13). Jane acts in a way in which she is not used to. “I don’t very well know what I did with my hands, but he called me ‘Rat! Rat!’ and bellowed out aloud” (Bronte 14). She ends up attacking him for throwing a book at her, yet she gets blamed for the incident by Mrs. Reed. Mrs. Reed is Jane’s benefactress. She is one of the main reasons for Jane’s conflict at Gateshead because of her stubborn will to treat Jane as though she is a disgrace to all girls. Although the conflict between Jane and Mrs. Reed doesn’t become verbal until the end of Jane’s stay at Gateshead, the two characters constantly clash with one another in their beliefs about who and/or what Jane should be. Mrs. Reed often suggest that Jane should be “more sociable and child-like”, and if she were “more attractive and sprightly”, Jane would have the privileges that her cousins have (Bronte 9). Jane, at first, believed what Mrs. Reed and the other residents of…show more content…
Jane meets a girl at Lowood, Helen Burns, who is a devout Christian. She challenges Jane’s want to lash out when treated unfairly. Although this conflict is not viewed as negative, it is indeed a type of Man vs. Man conflict. Towards the beginning of Jane’s stay at Lowood, she tells Helen that if she were in her place, she “should dislike her” and “resist her”, but Helen quickly corrects Jane by mentioning the consequences of such actions. “Mr. Brocklehurst would expel you from the school: that would be a great grief to your relations” (Bronte 66). This explanation from Helen shows Jane why Helen endures the humility from her teacher, and how the Bible tells them to “return good for evil” (Bronte 66). This is the beginning of Jane’s period of uncertainty. She sees Helen as a friend, so why would a friend steer you in the wrong path? Jane feels that she must give up her passion in order to please the people around her, but through a series of unfortunate events she learns that even the girls who do everything right in the eyes of God end up being punished in a way. Helen Burns dies from the poor care and malnutrition, and when she does Jane begins to understand that she doesn’t have to give up herself for society, but she must be socialized in order to keep a job. Through her time working at Lowood, she doesn’t encounter any more conflict than she did when she

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