Jane Eyre

Signifiance of Setting in Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre opens at dreary Gateshead Hall, where the orphaned title character is compelled to live with her wealthy aunt. Here the young Jane appears reserved and unusual, a girl who says she can be “happy at least in my way” (9), implying that her brand of happiness is different than the traditional, and whom the reader does not yet understand. As the novel goes on, Jane migrates to a series of locations that help develop her true character. The settings of Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Moor House, and finally Ferndean Manor shape Jane and eventually give rise to her true independence.

Bronte opens the novel in Gateshead Hall, where Jane’s aunt, Mrs. Reed, imprisons Jane temporarily in the manor’s “Red Room.” The description of this room is more detailed than of any other at Gateshead: “This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire; it was silent, because remote from the nursery and kitchens; solemn, because it was known to be so seldom entered” (14). The room is like Jane’s personality at this point in the novel – isolated and morose. Jane’s distance from her family members, humorless existence, and cold attitude toward Mrs. Reed when she finally confronts her are qualities that reflect her surroundings....

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