In Search of Permanence
In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, the setting is used as a tool to reflect the hardships its protagonist, Jane Eyre, experiences. The locations Jane resides in play an integral part in determining what actions she is to take next. Her transient residencies demonstrate her restless desire to find a purpose in life while respecting the nineteenth-century social codes that restrict her. She strives to maintain her self-respect, but is aware of the conventional subservience of woman she is expected to uphold in the Victorian-era England. The constantly changing setting is a manifestation of Jane Eyre's struggle to find a permanence that satiates her desire for self-fulfillment.
It is from Gateshead Hall, the home of her prejudice and insensitive aunt, where Jane begins her journey. The opening of its gates is symbolic of her casting off into the world to experience life independent of guidance. She leaves at the break of dawn and "whirl[s] away toÖremote and mysterious regions", signifying the beginning of a new life unrestrained by familial ties (35). Her arrival at Lowood, a restrictive boarding school, begins during a bitter winter "stiffened in frost, shrouded with snowÖ[with] mists as chill as death"...
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