Jane Eyre

Representation of the Orphan in Jane Eyre College

In Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre, an orphan is represented as both the protagonist and the narrator of the story. Jane is a meek, plain, but good-natured girl who learns early on the hardships of life. Orphaned by the death of her parents, Jane is forced to live as a dependent under the roof of the widowed Mrs. Reed. Mrs. Reed and her two children treat Jane with everything but kindness, equality, and love. From the time of her parent’s death to the fateful day that allowed Jane to leave the Reeds, Jane was starved for affection and belonging. Despite these hardships, Jane grows to be a strong independent character that is consistently standing up for morality and equality even if it means losing love. The presence of an orphan in this nineteenth-century novel serves as a foil to the other characters, a factor for plot movement, and an identity to the hardships that Victorian women face both in fiction and in history.

In order to fully understand the significance of Jane as an orphaned character, we must first look at her background and her early life. Bronte uses John Reed to tell the reader the story of Jane’s dependency: “you are a dependent…you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live...

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