Time period

The time setting of the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is not explicitly stated but the story takes place in the early 19th century. The novel references the historical context of that time by discussing England’s imperial rule and mentioning British colonies such as the West Indies, where Bertha Mason and her brother are from. 

The novel also presents the attitudes of the time regarding social class or gender roles, which are some of the themes explored in the novel. Attitudes towards marriage are also explored. Moreover, subtler details such as Jane’s descriptions of people’s physical appearance as a hint to their character point to the practice of physiognomy, which was popular at the time. 

The novel spans twenty years, as Jane looks back on her life from when she was ten years old and living at Gateshead. The novel ends when Jane is ten years into her marriage with Rochester, nearly thirty years old. 

Physical setting

The novel features many locations in rural northern England, which surround different stages of Jane’s life. In chronological order, there are five main settings: Gateshead Hall (Chapters 1-4), Lowood Institute (Chapters 5-10), Thornfield Hall (Chapters 11-27), Moor House (Chapters 28-35), and Ferndean (Chapters 36-38). 

Gateshead Hall

Gateshead is the Reeds’ residence and the place where Jane grows up until she is ten years old. 

At Gateshead, Jane is an outcast and longs to escape: “I was a discord at Gateshead Hall: I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage.” (Chapter 2, 56%). The treatment she receives at Gateshead ignites Jane’s sense of injustice and makes her desire independence and a home with a loving family

The red room is an important location at Gateshead. The red room is a mostly unused chamber where Jane is sent to when she is punished. It is described as one of the largest and most impressive chambers in the mansion and is decorated in a lavish style with most furnishings being red (Chapter 2, 22%). The red room is also the room in which Mr Reed died, which makes ten-year-old Jane fear the room and the possibility of seeing her uncle’s ghost inside it. 

The red room is also a symbolic location. Jane is locked inside the room and threatened to be tied to a chair if she does not behave as punishment for her passionate outburst against her cousin John Reed’s violent treatment of her. Therefore,, the room represents the different ways 19th-century society traps and punishes women because of their failure to conform to gender roles and a...

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