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The Presentation of Childhood in Chapters 1 and 4 of Jayne Eyre

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Discuss the presentation of childhood in chapters 1-4 of Jane Eyre

The plot of Jane Eyre follows the form of a Bildungsroman, which is a novel that tells the story of child maturation and focuses on the emotions and experiences that accompany and incite his or her growth to adulthood. In Jane Eyre, there are five distinct stages of development, each linked to a particular place: Jane's childhood at Gateshead, her education at Lowood School, her time as Adele's governess at Thornfield, her time with the River's family at Morton and at Marsh End(also called Moor house), and her reunion with and marriage to Rochester at Ferndean. From these experiences, Jane becomes the mature woman who narrates the novel retrospectively.

The novel opens on a dull, dreary afternoon at Gateshead "the cold winter wind" pathetic fallacy is used to show Jane's feelings. In the house at Gateshead the Reed family all sit together in the house, the mother sits with all the children around her "Eliza, John and Georgianna were now clustered round their mama in the drawing-room" This shows Jane's isolation from the family, while Jane sits in the drawing room reading Bewick's History of British Birds. All the Reeds seem family like and Jane isn't involved with it she isn't part of the family, Jane sits with the curtain around her, alone, she likes being alone whereas the Reeds are all happy being together. By reading the books this shows us that she has a very vivid imagination. "Bleak Shores" she uses blue words, this is gothic and depressing it shows how her home life is depressing making her imagination depressing too. As Jane sits by herself happy and content John Reed (her cousin) searches for assuming she has "run out into the rain" then Eliza's eye catches Jane behind the curtain and alerts John reed "I trembled" Jane was afraid of John, she knew he had power over her. "What do you want?" Jane asked, John reed then corrected her and said "Say, what do you want Master Reed" john knew he was superior to Jane because of his class and authority; she is treated like a peasant. John reed is a fat, stout, ugly boy with large extremities "heavy limbs". He is like this due to his unhealthy lifestyle "he gorged himself habitually at the table" he has a lack of self-control; he is down-right lazy and spoilt and completely greedy! This contrasts with Jane because she is the complete opposite to john reed. He bullies her physically and mentally (making fun of her because she is an orphan) he is jealous of her because she is intelligent and he is not; because he doesn't bother to have an education. John reed is a pathetic child, not because of his social class, he just isn't a nice child, later on in the book we find out that he gambles and has an alcohol addiction and dies due to it. Jane


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