Jane Eyre and Ungodly Discontent

Firstly, ‘ungodly discontentment’ can be clearly seen throughout the novel, Jane Eyre, in scenes such as the ‘Red Room’ or at ‘Lowood’, where Jane can be seen as severely unhappy and oppressed. This idea of ‘ungodly discontentment’ may perhaps represent the oppressive Victorian era, in which women or those of a lower class were prejudiced against, or possibly the idea that Victorian society was beginning to draw away from their ideals and question the concept of religion. Yet, there are also episodes of the novel that can be seen as displaying ‘godly contentment’, such as Jane’s romance with Rochester or through the character of Helen Burns herself. Bronte first presents the tone of ‘ungodly discontentment’ at Gateshead, where Jane is continually treated as an outcast by her aunt and cousins due to her lower class standing. Specifically, Jane can be seen as discontent in the Red Room where she describes her reflection as “like one of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp”. This simile shows that Jane fails to recognize herself in the Red Room, and instead see’s herself as a supernatural being, devoid of the presence of God, creating a gothic atmosphere.

This may link to the elements of the Gothic genre seen throughout the novel, which was frowned upon by many Victorians, due to its tendency to disregard and rebel against religion and focus on supernatural beings. However, Bronte had a very religious background, with one critic saying that she and her sisters were ‘brought up on the classics’, perhaps suggesting that it wasn’t Bronte’s intention to disregard religion, but instead present the discontentment that Victorian woman may have experienced. Additionally, the fact that Jane’s reflection is so distant to her may suggest that she feels as though she doesn’t belong with the Reed’s, and perhaps not even on earth, due to the discontentment she feels.

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Furthermore, the ‘Red Room’ would …