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Week 2: Jane Eyre I

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Anne Jamison

on 6 March 2017

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Transcript of Week 2: Jane Eyre I

1847
"No human being has the right to be idle ... Women must, as children of God, be trained to do some work in the world ... And we must train ourselves to do our work well ... Women may not take a man as a god; they must not hold their first duty to be towards any human being ... Young women begin to ask at the age of sixteen or seventeen,
'What am I created for? Of what use am I to be in the world?'
"

Barbara Leigh Smith, "Women and Work" (1857) in
Barbara Leigh Smith and the Langham Place Group
by Candida Lacey (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1987), pp. 38-40.
"From their early childhood, girls are accustomed to fill an inferior place, to give up, to fall back, and
be as nothing in comparison with their brothers
."

Sarah Ellis,
The Wives of England, their Relative Duties, Domestic Influence, and Social Obligations
(London: Fisher, Son, & Co., 1843), p. 68.
Sarah Ellis
(1799-1872)
"Woman has been and is even yet too often told that in herself she can be nothing; that she is in fact
a mere relative being, dependent entirely upon man for her happiness
."

Anne Richelieu Lamb,
Can Woman Regenerate Society?
(London: John W. Parker, 1844), p. 3.
"Moral growth ... lies in developing the ability to cast the memory back over previous events, draw inferences and adapt current and future behaviour accordingly."

Elizabeth Jay, "'Be sure and remember the rabbits'": Memory as Moral Force in the Victorian
bildungsroman
" in
Literature and Theology
24.4 (2010): 365.
"
Jane Eyre
is a bildungsroman, the story of the moral education of an individual. As a bildungsroman, it focuses on both the formal and the informal education of the main character, Jane Eyre, examining what she learns from the experience of life as well as the classroom as she comes of age."

Debra Teachman,
Understanding Jane Eyre
(London: Greenwood Press, 2001), p. 27.
Lecture Questions

1. What is a
bildungsroman
?

2. What does Jane's early imprisonment in the 'red-room' seem to symbolize?

3. To what effect does Charlotte Bronte utilise the figure, or image, of the slave in Jane Eyre's narrative?
"The adolescent hero of the typical 'apprentice' novel sets out on his way through the world, meets with reverses usually due to his own temperament, falls in with various guides and counselors, makes many false starts in choosing his friends, his wife, and his life work, and finally adjusts himself in some way to the demands of his time and environment by finding a sphere of action in which he may work effectively."

Susanne Howe,
Wilhelm Meister and his English Kinsmen: Apprentices to Life
(New York: AMS Press, 1966), p. 4.
"
The novel of development portrays a world in which the young woman hero is destined for disappointment
... Every element of her desired world - freedom to come and go, allegiance to nature, meaningful work, exercise of the intellect, and use of her erotic capabilities - inevitably clashes with patriarchal norms."

Annis Pratt,
Archetypal Patterns in Women's Fiction
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981), p. 29.
"By teaching their protagonists how to understand and work within the limits of their societies, authors of female
Bildungsromane
allow their heroines to mature or 'grow up' - to understand themselves and their relationship to their environment, and to negotiate that environment in order to maintain some form of agency.
However, the process of learning to understand and work within the limits of society simultaneously forces the heroine to decrease her sphere of action or to 'grow down'
. She must give up those aspects of her independence that separate her from patriarchal society, and she must find ways to reconcile her view of herself with others' expectations of her."

Lorna Ellis,
Appearing to Diminish. Female Development and the British Bildungsroman
, 1750-1850 (London: Associated University Presses, 1999), p. 18.
'I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.'

Charlotte Bronte,
Jane Eyre
(1847)
the novel narrates from a first-person perspective the life journey of an impoverished orphan girl, Jane Eyre, from her early girlhood to young adulthood;

the novel has no strict historical setting, but is approximately set in the 1830s/1840s;

the novel is divided into three parts or volumes and narrates several distinct phases of Jane's life:

(i) her time with the
Reed family
as a young girl;

(ii) her removal from the Reeds to her time spent at
Lowood School
, a boarding school for orphans;

(iii) her move to
Thornfield Hall
to take up employment as a private governess;

(iv) her escape from Thornfield and refuge with the
Rivers family
;

(v) her eventual return to
Thornfield Hall
.

"she [Charlotte's employer] cares nothing in the world about me except to contrive how the greatest quantity of labour may be squeezed out of me, and to that end she overwhelms me with oceans of needlework, yards of cambric to mend, muslin nightcaps to make, and, above all things, dolls to dress ...
I now see more clearly than I have ever done that a private governess has no existence, is not considered as a living and rational being
except as connected with wearisome duties she has to fulfill."

Letters I
, pp. 178-9, Charlotte to Emily
"The thought came over me am I to spend all the best part of my life in this
wretched bondage

forcibly suppressing my rage
... and on compulsion assuming an air of kindness, patience and assiduity? Must I from day to day
sit chained to this chair, prisoned within these four walls
... the time I am losing will never come again."

Charlotte Bronte, qtd. in Katherine Frank,
Emily Bronte. Unchained Soul
(London: Penguin, 1992), pp. 106-07.
Charlotte's description of working as a governess:
Jane Eyre
as Female
Bildungsroman

Timeline
Volume I
Volume I
Volume I
Volume II [volume II begins after Jane has saved Rochester's life from a fire incident at Thornfield]
Volume III
Volume III
Jane is 10
Jane is 18
Jane is 18/19
Jane is 20
Jane is 30 when she writes her autobiography
1. What is a
bildungsroman
?
"What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon! How all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in insurrection! Yet in what darkness, what dense ignorance, was the mental battle fought!
I could not answer the ceaseless inward question - why I thus suffered; now, at the distance of - I will not say how many years - I see it clearly.
I was a discord in Gateshead Hall; I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs Reed or her children." (
Jane Eyre
, p. 22-3)

"an existence whose very privileges of security and ease I was becoming incapable of appreciating.
What good it would have done me at that time
to have been tossed in the storms of an uncertain struggling life, and to have been taught by rough and bitter experience to long for the calm amidst which I now repined!"
(Jane Eyre
, p. 154)

"I was almost as hard beset by him now as I had been once before, in a different way, by another. I was a fool both times. To have yielded then [to Mr. Rochester] would have been an error of principle; to have yielded now would have been an error of judgement.
So I think at this hour, when I look back to the crisis through the quiet medium of time: I was unconscious of folly at the instant
." (
Jane Eyre
, p. 548)

"My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven. He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun.
I could not, in those days, see God for his creature: of whom I had made an idol
." (
Jane Eyre
, p. 360)
"governessing slavery" (
Jane Eyre
, p. 354)
Service and Slavery
3. To what effect does Charlotte Bronte utilise the figure, or image, of the slave in Jane Eyre's narrative?
"The famous scene of violence with which the novel begins, John Reed's assault on Jane and her passionate counterattack,
associates the moment of rebellion and autonomy with bloodletting and incarceration
in the densely symbolic red room. It is thus
as if the mysterious crime for which the Reeds were punishing Jane were the crime of growing up
. The red-room to which Jane is sentenced by Mrs. Reed for her display of anger and passion is a paradigm of female inner space ... With its deadly and bloody connotations, its Freudian wealth of secret compartments, wardrobes, drawers, and jewel chest,
the red-room has strong associations with the adult female body.
"

Elaine Showalter, "Feminine Heroines: Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot" in
A Literature of Their Own
by Elaine Showalter (New Jersey: Princeton University Press 1977): 114-115.
"The governess held a peculiar position in nineteenth-century England, because she was a wage-earning, middle-class woman in a society in which middle-class femininity was defined by domesticity and non-participation in the public labor market ...
Employment as a teacher and governess was considered suitable, because the work so strongly resembled the traditional feminine tasks of the middle-class wife and mother.
Additionally, resident governesses to some extent could maintain their status as members of a middle-class household, although they had entered employment. Although governess work was deemed appropriate, contemporary records give a clear picture - no woman seems to have taken up governessing unless she was forced to do so for financial reasons ... the unequivocal and fixed class distinction, which served to define both master and servant, was not applicable to the relation between employer and governess.
Because of her position as a middle-class woman, who was also a domestic hireling, the Victorian governess was trapped in an intermediate and undefined position. As for class, she ranked above the servants, but she was as dependent as they were.
"

Cecilia Lecaros, "The Victorian Heroine Goes A-Governessing" in
Silent Voices: Forgotten Novels by Victorian Women Writers
by Brenda Ayres (London: Praegar, 2003), pp. 27-28.
Ibn Tufayl,
Hayy ibn Yaqdhan
[ ]

(12th Century)

Simon Ockley,
The Improvement of Human Reason: Exhibited in the Life of Hai Ebn Hokdhan
(1708)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre
(1795-5)

"Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship"
Bildungsroman

bildung = education
roman = novel

'novel of education or formation'
Common aspects of the Victorian
bildungsroman
novel:

narrates an individual's moral/psychological growth and development within a particular social order;
[patriarchy]
experiences deep loss or unhappiness at an early age;
[orphan]
path to maturity is long and difficult and there are many setbacks that expose the tension between the main character's individual needs and society's expectations;
[what are society's expectations of women?]
main character often experiences an epiphany or spiritual revelation;
[religion]
the main character eventually finds his/her place in society and finds a meaningful existence.
[marriage/motherhood: at what cost?]
What is a female
bildungsroman
?
How might it differ from a traditional
bildungsroman
?
"Jane's pilgrimage ... a life journey which is a kind of mythical progress"

Sandra M. Gilbert, "Plain Jane's Progress,"
Signs
2.4 (1977): 783.
Imprisonment and the 'Red Room'
"But if Jane was 'out of' herself in her struggle against John Reed, her experience in the red-room, probably the most metaphorically vibrant of all her early experiences, forces her deeply into herself.
For the red-room, stately, chilly, swathed in rich crimson, perfectly represents her vision of the society in which she is trapped, an uneasy and elfin dependent
... this is the room where Mr. Reed, the only 'father' Jane has ever had, 'breathed his last.'
It is, in other words, a kind of patriarchal death chamber
... the spirit of a society in which Jane has no clear place enlarges the shadows and strengthens the locks on the door."

Sandra M. Gilbert, "Plain Jane's Progress,"
Signs
2.4 (1977): 782.
2. What does Jane's early imprisonment in the 'red-room' seem to be symbolize?
"'You are like a murderer -
you are like a slave-driver
- you are like the Roman emperors!' ... I really saw in him a tyrant: a murderer ..." (
Jane Eyre
, p. 16)

"I was conscious that a moment's
mutiny
had already rendered me liable to strange penalties, and, like any other
rebel slave
, I felt resolved, in my desperation, to go all lengths." (
Jane Eyre
, p. 18)

"'Master! How is he my master?
Am I a servant?
'" (
Jane Eyre
, p. 18)

"my blood was still warm;
the mood of the revolted slave
was still bracing me ..." (
Jane Eyre
, p. 21)

"insupportable
oppression
" (
Jane Eyre
, p. 22)

"my soul began to expand, to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible
bond
had burst, and that I had struggled out into
unhoped-for liberty
." (
Jane Eyre
, p. 51)
"I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication. For change, stimulus. That petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space. 'Then,' I cried, half desperate, 'grant me a new servitude!' ... I have served here eight years; now all I want is to serve elsewhere. Can I not get so much of my own will?" (
Jane Eyre
, p. 115)
"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 would 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 ... It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex."
(Jane Eyre
, p. 146).
Jane is 10 years old and on the cusp of womanhood when we first meet her in the novel. It is at this juncture in her life that she begins to express both rage and passion at her position in the Reed household. Her entry into early adulthood is thus marked by
violence
, as well as
entrapment
.
"'She never did so before,' at last said Bessie ..." (
Jane Eyre
, 19).

"'You have a very bad disposition,' said she, 'and one to this day I feel it impossible to understand: how for nine years you could be patient and quiescent under any treatment, and in the tenth break out
all fire and violence
, I can never comprehend'." (
Jane Eyre
, p. 313).
'Red-room'

= adult female body and desire;
= oppressive patriarchal society.

'subjugation of the self'
'dependency'
"'You have no business to take our books;
you are a dependent
, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us ... I'll teach you to rummage my bookshelves:
for they
are
mine; all the house belongs to me, or will in a few years'"
.

(
Jane Eyre
, p. 16)
Charlotte Bronte's
Jane Eyre
(1847):

Female Agency and Servitude

"He smiled; and I thought his smile was such as a sultan might, in a blissful and fond moment,
bestow on a slave his gold and gems had enriched
: I crushed his hand, which was ever hunting mine, vigorously, and thrust it back to him red with the passionate pressure." (
Jane Eyre
, p. 352)

"'I will myself put the diamond chain round your neck, and the circlet on your forehead ... and I will clasp the bracelets on these fine wrists, and load these fairy-like fingers with rings.'" (
Jane Eyre
, p. 340)
Marriage as Captivity
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