Places: Jane Eyre

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1847

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Domestic realism

Time of work: 1800

Places DiscussedGateshead Hall

Gateshead Jane EyreHall. Upper-middle class home of the Reed family. Gateshead Hall, identified only as located in “–shire,” England, is the home in which Jane spends the first ten years of her life with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, and her three cousins. It is here that Jane learns to take care of herself–training that prepares her for the hardships that are to follow during her years at an orphan asylum.

Two places in particular within Gateshead Hall play prominent roles in Jane’s life there. The window seat in which the reader first encounters Jane as she reads a book on the history of British birds is surrounded by thick red curtains and shelters her from both the cold, raw weather on the outside of the window and the cold, loveless environment of the Reed household on the other side of the curtain. Shortly after Jane leaves the womblike safety of the window seat, she is banished to the red room, her late uncle’s old bedroom, after being unjustly accused of fighting with her cousin John. It is from the unhappy atmosphere of Gateshead Hall that Jane acquires the strength of character to help her with the difficulties she must face in the future.

Lowton

Lowton. Fictional town near which the Lowood Orphan Asylum is located, some fifty miles from Gateshead Hall. This school is believed to be based in part on the Cowan Bridge School that Charlotte Brontë and her sisters attended as girls.

Lowood Orphan Asylum

Lowood Orphan Asylum. After the incident of the red room, Mrs. Reed contacts Mr. Brocklehurst, treasurer of the Lowood Orphan Asylum, to arrange for Jane to live at the school permanently. Jane’s first year at Lowood, especially, is difficult because Mr. Brocklehurst forces the teachers and students to survive on inadequate nourishment and in harsh living conditions. By the spring of her first year at Lowood, typhoid fever ravages the school, resulting in an investigation of Brocklehurst’s methods and leading to vastly improved conditions for the inhabitants of Lowood.

Jane spends the next eight years at Lowood–six years as a student and two years as a teacher. Though her remaining years at Lowood are less difficult than the first, Jane still yearns for more from life. During her years at Lowood, Jane learns from her close friend, Helen Burns, and the superintendent of Lowood, Miss Temple, what it means to live life as a true Christian.

Millcote

Millcote. Fictional English village that is the location of Thornfield Hall, the home of Edward Fairfax Rochester. The village affords Jane the first glimpse of her new home after she leaves Lowood School and is also the scene of her near-marriage to Rochester.

Thornfield Hall

Thornfield Hall. Home of Rochester, his ward Adela, and the housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax. It is there that Jane begins to enjoy life for the first time. However, as the house’s name implies, the house is also a field of thorns, in which Jane learns the joys and pain of true love as well. Thornfield is a large upper-class estate with many rooms and an equal number of secrets. One secret that is kept from Jane and visitors to the estate is that on the upper floor of the mansion, Rochester is hiding Bertha, his legal wife, who has gone mad. After Jane’s arrival, the house transforms from a place nearly abandoned by its master to the scene of family tranquillity, parties, and Jane and Rochester’s growing love for each other. Later, however, it becomes a place of pain and regret that Jane must leave in secret in order to escape the prospect of love without the sanctity of marriage.

Whitcross

Whitcross. Fictional crossroads on the moors of northern England to which Jane flees from Rochester and the memories of their lost love. Left with no food, money, or clothes, Jane must beg for scraps of food and spends several nights sleeping outside.

Moor House

Moor House. Home of St. John, Diana, and Mary Rivers. Left with no other options, Jane finds herself outside Moor House, hoping to find food, lodging, and possible employment. The cottage is warm and inviting, and the Rivers family takes in an ailing Jane and nurses her back to health. Finding Jane to be well bred and educated, St. John immediately employs Jane to run a school for village girls. In her small home and school Jane finds the contentment of employment to be both fulfilling and enjoyable. However, Jane soon discovers that she is both an heiress to a considerable fortune and the cousin of the Rivers family. She is also faced with a marriage proposal from St. John. Realizing that she loves only Rochester, she leaves Moor House to go to him. Upon arriving in Millcote, Jane learns that Thornfield Hall has burned down, Rochester’s wife has died, and Rochester has moved to his other home, Ferndean Manor.

Ferndean Manor

Ferndean Manor. One of Rochester’s homes, located two miles from Millcote. After Jane learns of the change in Rochester’s circumstances, she rushes to Ferndean Manor and finds that he is both blind and maimed as a result of the fire that destroyed Thornfield Hall and killed Bertha. Jane and Rochester decide on a quiet wedding with only the two of them present. It is at Ferndean Manor that Jane is rewarded for her years of suffering and longing for love and where the Rochesters finally begin a long and happy marriage.

BibliographyBlom, Margaret Howard. Charlotte Brontë. Boston: Twayne, 1977. This introductory work asserts that Jane Eyre reflects Brontë’s own contradictory struggle to be both independent and controlled by a man. Using biographical information as a springboard for analysis, the work examines Brontë’s novels in separate chapters, including notes, an index, and a bibliography.Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979. This feminist work examines recurrent themes in the works of major nineteenth century female writers. Interprets Jane Eyre as a progress novel tracing Jane’s maturation, emphasizing the complex meaning of Bertha. Although 700 pages long, the book’s extensive index and chapters divided by writer and work make it convenient for research.Imlay, Elizabeth. Charlotte Brontë and the Mysteries of Love: Myth and Allegory in “Jane Eyre.” New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. Discusses the relationships in the novel, focusing particularly on that between Jane and Rochester. Looks at uses of myth and symbol in Brontë’s depiction of relationships.Kadish, Doris Y. The Literature of Images: The Narrative Landscape from “Julie” to “Jane Eyre.” New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1987. Discusses the web of image and metaphor that governs Jane Eyre and transforms this realist novel.King, Jeannette. “Jane Eyre.” Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1986. An effective introduction to Jane Eyre, the book is arranged by literary elements with chapter headings such as “Characterization,” “Language,” and “Structure and Theme.” Based on a tutorial approach in which readers are asked to reread certain chapters before reading discussion portions carefully examining the passages.London, Bette. “The Pleasures of Submission: Jane Eyre and the Production of the Text.” English Literary History 58, no. 1 (Spring, 1991): 195-214. A look at the historical period when the novel was written. Specifically addresses the portrayals of women in nineteenth century fiction by women writers.Macpherson, Pat. Reflecting on “Jane Eyre.” London: Routledge, 1989. The author’s conversational style and humor make this an entertaining work of criticism. Offers extensive character examinations of Jane, Bertha, and St. John and suggests that Brontë is practicing biting social criticism behind the disarming disguise of feminine confession.Nestor, Pauline. Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre.” New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Arguing that Jane does not control her own actions, this work of new feminist criticism rejects previous estimations of Jane as a feminist hero. Offers interesting analyses of the themes of motherhood, sexuality, and identity and surveys the work’s historical background and criticism. Includes an index, notes, and a bibliography.Peters, Joan D. “Finding a Voice: Toward a Woman’s Discourse of Dialogue in the Narration of Jane Eyre.” Studies in the Novel 23, no. 2 (Summer, 1991): 217-236. Discusses the instabilities, difficulties, and resistances of the narrative voice in the novel.Pinion, F. B. A Brontë Companion. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1975. A good reference work on all the Brontës, including biographical material, chapter-length analyses of their novels, a section on characters and places, an index, an annotated bibliography, and illustrations.
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