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Transcript of Jane Eyre:
There is a stark contrast between the red and white shades within the room, both colors symbolizing varying combinations of emotions, concepts, etc.
The Red Room symbolizes imprisonment and serves as a physical prison in the beginning of Jane's life; however, the Red Room imprisons her psychologically throughout her life, whenever she experiences a traumatic situation.
Her destitute condition upon her departure from Thornsfield also threatens emotional imprisonment, as does St. John's marriage proposal.
The Red Room's presence leaves when she gains financial independence and a family of her own.
The Red Room
The Idea of Independent Women in Victorian Society
The Victorian Era witnessed a gradual but significant change in the role of women, as independent and intelligent women prominently emerged in society.
Compared to the repression and inferior restrictions of women throughout the course of all history, during the Victorian age, women slowly began to gain access to education and were looked much higher upon than the previous social norms. Jobs as governesses were common.
Many women strove to break free of their dependence on dominant men, but others remained confined to social restrictions and represented virtuous Victorian women: silent, obedient, and content to know nothing.
Victorian thought encompassed social awareness, religious prominence, and thought defined by reason and work versus feelings and temptations.
Sounds like Jane, doesn't it?
Jane as an Independent Woman
Bronte portrays Jane Eyre as a paragon independent woman living Victorian society.
THOUGHT-Victorian characteristics: social awareness, work over pleasure (quote below page 258), responsibility, sturdy belief in what is right, repression of emotions. Intelligence and knowledge, greatly valued traits in the Victorian age, also allowed for more independence.
RELIGION- emphasis on individual religious experience, human causes, social reforms. Uses God and faith to justify will to break away from norms and fulfill what is right. Also relates to fate and purpose in life's occurrences.
-"The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad – as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be" (287).
Jane develops greatly in terms of her strength to sacrifice emotionally pleasing experiences for religiously gratifying experiences. She rejects love and emotion because of the consequential enslavement and chooses a simple, solitary, but religiously gratifying love.
another example: God lead Jane into doing what was right. When deciding whether or not to marry St. John, Jane describes: "Religion called- Angles beckoned- God commanded... it seemed, that for safety and bliss there, all here might be sacrificed in a second" (300).
Alice Romanov, Nishat Firoj, Emily Register, Parrish West
The Red Room, Independent Women, and Name Analysis
Miss Temple as an Independent Woman
As a young, intelligent, and confident young woman, Miss Temple relies on no one (until her marriage) and serves as a role model to Jane.
She defies the accepted norms to do what she believes is right. Ex: defying Mr. Brockelhurt's rules to feed the girls properly.
"Miss Temple is very good, and very clever; she is above the rest, because she knows far more than they do" (61).
A student at Lowood speaks of Miss Temple's superiority, specifically over the teachers; this quotation can also be taken to mean Miss Temple's superiority in status to other Victorian women.
When Jane explains herself to be innocent of Mr. Brocklehurst's accusations, Miss Temple accepts Jane as innocent and works to prove her so to the rest of the students (83).
Though Mr. Brockehurst is technically in charge, he has no true power when he is not physically present, because it is Miss Temple who possesses the power of judgement.
As seen on page 37, the other teachers are shocked at Ms. Temple's decision to independently take on responsibility. In Victorian society, this is becoming more and more familiar and is looked highly upon. Ms. Temple is respected and considered a higher figure than anyone else at Lowood.
In terms of Jane's personal growth, Ms. Temple plays the significant role of inspiring Jane and first introducing her to the aspects of independence in Victorian society. Look under Jane slide for more detail.
Eliza as an Independent Woman
A reed is a stiff and strong plant-like structure often used for whippings and punishments.
"Mrs. Reed now, impatient of my now frantic anguish and wild sobs, abruptly thrust me back and locked me in, without further parley" (25).
"I dislike Mrs. Reed; for it was her nature to wound me cruelly" (42)
Mrs. Reed, much like her name suggests, is unrelenting in her hatred towards Jane; her harsh nature and strictness on Jane coincides with the idea of a reed.
Also Mrs. Reed leaves wounds similar to those that an actual reed would leave.
Jane Independence Quotes
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man" (221).
"I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer" (64).
"I smiled, and not a very complacent or submissive smile either... I don't think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience" (99).
Mr Rochester says, "I see at intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close-set bars of a cage: a vivid, restless, resolute captive is there; were it but free it would soar cloud-high" (103).
"Strong wind, earthquake-shock, and fire may pass by: but I shall follow the guiding of that still small voice which interprets the dictates of my conscience" (147).
"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you" (184).
The Red Room : Color Contrasts
"...pillars of mahogany..."
"...curtains of deep-red damask..."
"....carpet was red..."
"....covered in crimson cloth..."
"...glared white, the piled up mattresses and pillows of the bed spread with a snow Marseilles counter-pane."
"...easy chair... also white... like a pale throne."
Both colors can symbolize opposing forces that exist throughout the book (respective to red v. white) :
Jane's passion v. cold negligence of Mrs. Reed
Evils of the world v. Jane's innocence
Jane's coming of age v. Jane's chastity
Mr. Rochester's heedless love and deceit v. Jane's innocence and victimization
Jane's Perspective on the Position of the Victorian Woman:
"Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men should suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex." (125-126)
Ms. Temple is Jane's inspiration for independence. Ms. Temple's characteristics of patience, understanding, responsibility, logic, and ability to stand up for what is right are reborn in Jane. Ex: also becomes a teacher, becomes independent from the dominant controls of men like Mr. Rochester and St. John Rivers
another quote about Jane and Rochester as equals: "To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company" (324).
The Red Room Returns
Jane suffers a moment of isolation and despair before leaving Thornsfield, as soon as she had discovered Mr. Rochester's insidious secrets and fraudulent past. In this traumatic moment, she remembers back to the moment when she had suffered similarly in the Red Room: "... I dreamt I lay in the red-room at Gateshead; that the night was dark, and my mind impressed with strange fears" (358). Therefore, Red Room symbolizes Jane's repressed fears, passions, and rebellion, since Jane's departure from Thornsfield is characterized by all three: her fear of dishonor, her passionate love and personality, and her rebellion against the wishes of her master and of Victorian society as a whole.
Independence becomes a major motive in Jane's life, as it serves as a matter of self-respect. It is why she rejects Mr. Rochester's love and St. John River's proposal.
She has to refuse temptations of love as a sacrifice for her freedom. ex: "Whether it better, I ask, to be a slave in fool's paradise at Marseilles-fevered with delusive bliss one hour-suffocating tears the next-or to be a village schoolmistress, free and honest, in a breezy mountain in the healthy heart of England?" (258).
The will to be independent kicks in again in her actions when Jane has to decide about marrying St. John Rivers. She refuses, because she does not want to be his subordinate.
"Would it not be strange, Die, to be chained for life to a man regarded one but as a useful tool?" (299).
the reoccurring motif of marriage being described as slavery remarks on Jane's views on independence from men.
When she marries blind Mr. Rochester, she can do it because now that he is disabled, they are equals and she is not inferior or enslaved to him. Rochester is no longer a tyrant.
Eliza strives for complete independence, which means that she must renounce love and kinship for others; outright independence translates to isolation, thus leading Eliza to become a nun.
Not too long before Eliza leaves, she asks Georgiana, "Have you no sense to devise a system which will make you independent of all efforts and all wills but your own? ... The day will close almost before you are aware it has begun; and you are indebted to no one's company, conversation, sympathy, forbearance; you have lived, in short, as an independent being ought to do" (171).
A temple is an edifice or place dedicated to the service or worship of a deity
Ms. Temple always cares for her students, acting as a beacon of safety and happiness for the young girls who find peace with her.
"...her face, naturally pale as marble, appeared to be assuming also the coldness and fixity of that material" (48).
"Ms. Temple is above the rest, because she knows far more than they do" (39).
Mrs. Temple is worshiped by both Helen and Jane. She plays a central role in both of their lives, and Jane feels abandoned and lost when Mrs. Temple leaves.
"Brockle" means "of foul food odors," and upon sight and speech, the word does carry a negative connotation.
"Should any accidental disappointment of the appetite occur, such as spoiling of a meal...the incident ought not be neutralized by replacing something more delicate the comfort lost" (42).
"Hurst" means a small hill, but is also a common ending to English last names.
The negative connotation affirms that Mr. Brocklehurst will not be the hero in this story and a foe to Jane.
"Let her stand half-an-hour longer on that stool, and let no one speak to her the remainder of the day" (44)
His name sounds as harsh as he is, while also sounding pompous, which is ironic given that he runs a charity school aimed to humble children and rid them of pride.
This name sounds like the word "scratch," which is a mark left on the surface, but does no true harm.
Miss Scatcherd continually attempts to hurt Helen Burns on the outside, but she cannot hurt Helen's spirit or outlook on life.
"I kept expecting that Miss Scatcherd would praise her attention; but instead of that she suddenly cried out-'You dirty disagreeable girl'" (64)!
"Miss Scatcherd wrote in conspicuous characters on a piece of pasteboard and the word "Slattern," and bound it round Helen's...forehead" (86)
Once again this name has a negative connotation; but it can be broken up into two seperate words: scat and herd
"Scat" is generally refering to person or animal excrement, and "herd" being a group of some kind.
Miss Scatcherd is regarded as vile, cruel, and downright nasty by many students. While this teacher and feces don't really share much in common, they both are generally avoided when possible.
Herd is used because Miss Scratcherd uses humiliation in front of a group as her favorite form of punishment.