The Different Worldviews in Jane Eyre, a Novel by Charlotte Bronte

Last Updated: 13 Mar 2023
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In Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, a world within the world of the Victorian era is created through the story that Bronte brilliantly crafted. The novel is based on morals and customs of Victorian society. Bronte reflects worldviews that are both pessimistic and disorderly as well as hopeful and possible through language that creates the plot and setting of the novel, characters that represent stereotypes as well as themes throughout the book, and through imagery, all while the novel is still confined to the realm of the Victorian era. Bronte presents both a worldview of both pessimism and optimism through her characters, through their logical and emotional human nature. Logically and emotionally, there's building tension throughout the whole plot. The tension starts when Jane is just a girl, living with her family, constantly being neglected.

Jane develops a sense of hatred and rage towards her family, which is understandable considering what she says about being abused "He bullied and punished me--not two or three times a week, nor once or twice a day, but continually" (Bronte 8). The tension is a continuum into the rest of her life, as well as the rest of all the characters" lives. Helen Bums dies a tragic death living in harsh, bitter conditions, and Mrs. Reed dies of illness, never appreciated by Jane. Bronte shows a worldview of hope when this tension is released through Jane and Helen's friendship, when Helen teaches Jane to release her negative emotions and make them less destructive through forgiveness. The worldview of possibility is also portrayed through Jane's faith. Jane relies on hope and faith in God to get through her struggles. The worldview of pessimism and disorder is also portrayed through characters as well as events that occur throughout the novel. As tension develops, Bronte uses a foil to convey that Mr. Brocklehurst and John Reed are seen as more two dimensional characters, not having a lot of background, and are viewed more as scenery. They are foils against what they both would define themselves as.

Jane's emotions explode in a way after Bertha destroys Thornfield, and John Reed's death symbolizes the danger that Jane saw in his reason without thinking. This portrays the death of individuality, which ultimately reveals the worldview of negativity, pessimism and disorder. Bronte uses fire and ice imagery as a paradox because throughout the whole book, Jane is attempting to make peace with her passionate and reasonable natures. This can be seen when Jane has to live through Typhoid at Lowood, and the shame and scandal with Mr. Brocklehurst. Brocklehurst's philosophy is sort of Calvanistic when he teaches that mortification is needed to obtain a balance in one's life. Rochester is literally mortified when he loses an eye and a hand, but then Jane's passion is saved from destruction when she returns to him. Bronte uses fire and ice imagery when describing John Reed as handsome, but Bertha as ugly and a vampyre. Ice, in any fom, is in a fixed state as long as it stays frozen, while fire is difficult to control and is always changing.

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The ice represents the characters, and the fire represents the plot and setting. Fire eventually leaves cinders and ashes, destroying the foundation the fire is on, much like Bertha when she is described as being blackened and swollen. When ice and fire are combined, it forms a slush-like state, not a desirable metaphor for the state of a human being. Tt is clear even today that Jane Eyre still has power and force, as seen by modern day film and TV. Jane Eyre has this power and force still because of how Bronte portrayed these two polar opposite worldviews. The worldviews presented in Jane Eyre are realistic and relatable to modern day worldviews, and including both instead of one or the other makes the novel seem real even though humans today can't go back in time to the Victorian era. Presenting both worldviews links modern day worldviews with those of the Victorian era.

Works Cited

  1. Bronte, Charlotte, and Wayne Josephson. Jane Eyre. Charlottesville, VA: Chadwick, 2009. 318. Print.

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The Different Worldviews in Jane Eyre, a Novel by Charlotte Bronte. (2023, Mar 13). Retrieved from

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