Choose one character from the novel you have read and explore the ways in which this character is presented across the whole text.
In the book Jane Eyre, Jane is presented as a very rebellious and out spoken character from the first chapter. ‘Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners’, Mrs Reed is trying to punish Jane but Jane questions her fault in the situation and tries to get an answer out of Mrs Reed. Bronte is showing us how children are expected to accept their punishment, especially girls, and not question the decisions of their elders. However, Jane does the almost unthinkable and asks why and what she is being punished for. This is reinforcing to the reader that Jane is not a character that will accept every punishment and decisions that are made by others for her and that she won’t keep quiet about anything which she does not agree with. This is evident throughout the whole text. Bronte chose Jane to be ‘plain looking’ where she could have made her beautiful like Georgianna Reed, her cousin. Bronte chose to make Jane a plain looking girl with no distinctive and beautiful features. ‘If she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that’. Bronte is trying to portray how even the servants cannot sympathises with her due to her looks. It is also showing us the consequences she faces because she looks plain and boring and that some things like sympathy and compassion were given to people who had beauty, if they didn’t then people would not care or feel bad for them.
‘I had read Goldsmith’s History of Rome’, within the story, Jane has a curiosity and passion for knowledge and life. She is mentioned being engrossed in a book multiple times in the text. Her love for knowledge and books paints a picture of a smart and sharp witted girl in the readers mind. Bronte is showing us how even though her appearance is plain and simple, her mind is very intelligent and sharp. Bronte shows off Jane’s wide knowledge when Jane starts to insult John Reed, her cousin. ‘You are like a murderer – you are like a slave-driver – you are like the Roman Emperors!’ here it is evident that Jane does not simply read novels and fairy tales, she reads books which widen her knowledge of history and the world around her. She wants to know about all the things out there, happening in different countries outside of England. This statement also conveys that she understands what she is reading even at such a young age and remembers them afterwards.
Whenever around her cousin, John Reed, Jane always seems to be the scapegoat of his bad behaviour. ‘Dear! Dear! What a fury to fly at Master Reed!’ even though Jane fought and quarrelled with her cousins, she had never started the argument or fights. John would try and hurt her in many ways and when she fought back, she would be the one to get chastised and punished for being ‘an under-handed little thing’. She was always criticised for her bad behaviour. Her cousins were never punished or told off for their rude and arrogant habits or behaviours. Mrs Reed and the servants would turn a blind eye to it and instead the blame would be dumped on Jane. In this chapter, even though Jane had been bleeding from a gash on her head, she had been punished by being ‘taken away to the red-room’ and locked up. The servants and Mrs Reed had witnessed John