Charlotte Bronte went by the nom de plume Currer Bell. Cur means courage in Latin, and the character Jane Eyre is courageous. From the start the child in the adult reader is drawn into Jane’s lonely world by dint of empathy with her opressed life; even when she is merely hiding beneath a curtain with a book she is attacked by John Reed, “He ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder…” (Jane Eyre, p. 14).
Her admission that she is lonely and devoid of something, or someone to love, “To this crib I always took my doll; human beings must love something…” (Jane Eyre, p. 35) tugs at the heart of the reader who has experienced loneliness.
Eyre’s tantrums are frequent, because she is abused, and she rails against this abuse, never losing her her indignant power. Bronte went by the nom de plume Currer Bell, when she first published Jane Eyre. Cur and rebel appearing to mirror the juxtaposition of both Rochester’s and Jane’s personalities.
A single notion dawned upon me. I doubted not – never doubted – that if Mr Reed had been alive he would have treated me kindly;…”(Jane Eyre p.20).
Jane articulates her discontent at every opportunity, “What would uncle Reed say to you, if he were alive?” (Jane Eyre, p. 34).
There are constant references to the Bible, as a tool of control:
Besides, said Miss Abbott, ‘god will punish her…'(Jane Eyre, p.16).
Yet there is throughout this text a darker theme at work, that is the unravelling of an idea about religious belief, for she tells the reader that she took a graven image to bed,
I contrived to find pleasure in loving and cherishing a faded graven image, shabby as a miniature scarecrow. (Jane Eyre, P. 35).
Jane Eyre is heavily berated for admitting that she does not enjoy the Psalms, in spite of the fact that she has stated that she enjoys other scripture, “I like Revelations and the book of Daniel…”
‘And the Psalms? I hope you like them?’
‘No. Oh, shocking!… (Jane Eyre, p. 40).
The abuse that Jane suffers is mirrored later on in her relationship with Rochester, who toys with her in the presence of another woman, and who is violent; this violence is alluded to early on in the text:
And yet it is said that the Rochesters have been rather a violent than a quiet race in their time. (Jane Eyre, p. 125).
Eyre is restless and often agitated, which as an adult she expresses with language rather than poor behaviour:
It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. 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 there brothers do; they suffer from to 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, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.
It is Grace Poole and Bertha who represent the repressed and hidden passions of Jane through their frequent outbursts:
When Thus alone, I not unfrequently heard Grace Poole’s laugh: The same peal, the same low, slow ha! ha! which, when first heard, had thrilled me: I heard, too, her eccentric murmurs; stranger than her laugh. There were days when she was quite silent; but there were others when I could not account for the sounds she made. Sometimes I saw her: she would come out of her room with a basin, or a plate, or a tray in her hand, go down to the kitchen and shortly return, generally (oh, romantic reader, forgive me for telling the plain truth!) bearing a pot of porter…..
Her prevailing quality is honesty. There is an element of satire to this text, of irony. Most references to the reader in this text do not presume to know the reader’s character, and yet this assertion, “Oh romantic reader…” suggests the truth in the text is mocking that reader’s fragile sensibility.
There is much of value in this text; it is a melding of the fairy tale; of the gothic Red Riding Hood, of Rapunzel, since it mirrors the denouement of that story exactly with its depiction of the girl trapped first in one house then an orphanage and then a mansion, Thornfield Hall; and finally the protagonist is able to return to her pursuer, yet he is maimed and blinded, and the house too is no more.