Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre as a Coming of Age Story Essay

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Jane Eyre as a Coming of Age Story


Charlotte Bronte's classic, Jane Eyre, is a "coming of age" story. The main character, Jane, travels from the innocence of childhood through the maturity of adulthood. During this journey, Jane goes through the battle of education vs. containment, where she attempts to learn about herself and about the world. She must constantly battle a containment of sorts, however, whether it be a true physical containment or a mental one. This battle of education vs. containment can be seen by following Jane through her different places of residence, including Gateshead Hall, Lowood Institution, Thornfield, Moor House and Morton, and Ferndean Manor, where she is, finally, fully educated and escapes the feeling
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The "red-room" is where Mr. Reed had died. "It was in this chamber he breathed his last...and, since that day, a sense of dreary consecration had guarded it from frequent intrusion." (Bronte: 46). Nobody wanted to enter the room for long, in fear that the same "containment" might be put upon them. Jane, however, was thrust into the room and feared that the she would be constrained by the chains of death the same way that Mr. Reed was. The events at Gateshead begin the ever present battle between education and containment in Jane Eyre.



Jane is sent away by Mrs. Reed to Lowood Institution, a boarding school for orphaned girls where the next battle of education vs. containment would occur. At Lowood, which was "surrounded with walls so high as to exclude every glimpse of prospect" (Bronte: 80), Jane receives a scholastic education, but is very much contained by the strict discipline and lifestyle as well as the harshness of certain prominent figures there, such as Miss Scatcherd and Mr. Brocklehurst. Jane sees that here, like at Gateshead, the movement towards progress and knowledge is contained. She sees this as her friend, Helen Burns, gives a near perfect recital of her history lesson, "ready with answers on every point" (Bronte: 86), but is still disciplined by Miss Scatcherd for having dirty fingernails, which she could not clean because the water had been frozen that morning.…