Jane Eyre as a Bildungsroman

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A Bildungsroman as a genre was conceived by German Romantics and perfected through the course of development of the realist novel. Charlotte Bronte is regarded by many as a successor of both German and English Romantics; her novel Jane Eyre narrating the story of the psychological and spiritual development of a young girl into adulthood and womanhood bears many affinities with the best specimens of the genre.


The peculiarity of this novel's narrative strategy is that the events are represented from two and more points of view simultaneously: Jane as a child and Jane the narrator. This strategy allows the reader to follow the evolution of the heroine's perceptions and moral judgment. Let us start with the first significant episode of the novel, mainly Jane's imprisonment in the red-room (Bronte, Chapter 2). We already know that Jane is a rebel spirit not easily subdued; we are already aware of her unhappiness, her inner homelessness, her perception of herself as an outsider. The episode in the red-room symbolically presents Jane's first fight for preserving her integrity and spiritual freedom. Frightened of the imagined ghost she tries bravely and desperately to exercise self-discipline of the mind and to fight her panic attack: "I endeavored to be firm I lifted my head and tried to look boldly round the dark room" (Chapter 2, p.18) Such a valiant attempt in a child is admirable in itself; t does not matter that she loses this battle and succumbs to her fears. ...
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