Charlotte Brontë captures the lasting impression of fear and injustice, and the emotional outrage caused by both, in a child treated with cruelty. Here the young Jane Eyre, poor cousin and ward of a hard-hearted distant aunt, is locked up in a dark and terrifying room where nobody goes.
Even when she begs to be released, her so-called guardian shows no mercy. This on top of the fact that the punishment was undeserved and due to having been aggressed by the guardian’s beloved schoolyard bully of a son.
A surprising elements is that years later when she is dying, she asks to see Jane again, despite having shown no interest in her existence since she managed to dump her in an orphanage. But there is no redemption or forgiveness – she is still oozing resentment.
What shocks we can visit upon people, reverberating for years.
‘No severe or prolonged bodily illness followed this incident of the red-room; it only gave my nerves a shock of which I feel the reverberation to this day.’
Source: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (London: Bounty Books, 2012 (1847)), p. 19
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