jane eyre as a bildungsroman novel

Essay by izahidUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, November 2014

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Bildungsroman is a novel genre that narrates a hero or heroine's process of psychological maturation and focuses on experiences and changes that accompanies the growth of the character from youth to adulthood. "The term "Bildungsroman" was introduced to the critical vocabulary by the German philosopher and sociologist Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1941), who first employed it in an 1870 biography of Friedrich Schleiermacher and then popularized it with the success of his 1906 study Poetry and Experience" (Boes 231). To be a Bildungsroman, the hero or heroine in a novel will experience certain forms of pain or loss that pulls him or her away from either family or home and into the journey of desiring self-identity. At the end of the story the hero or heroine finally succeeds in the society. The plot of Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Brontë, generally follows this form. The growth of the main character, Jane Eyre, is distinctively divided into phases by places that she stayed at, starting from her tragic childhood to her final destination as Mr.

Rochester's mistress. The changes of emotions and maturation of identities as Jane Eyre goes through her life provide evidence of a Bildungsroman.

Through the novel, Jane Eyre grows up, moving from a radical stage to "a more pragmatic consciousness" (Mickelsen 418). Psychological maturation is a typical trait of Bildungsroman genre. At the beginning, Jane uses the knowledge she learns from the books to defend herself when she is angry: "'you are like a murderer - you are like a slave-driver - you are like the Roman emperors!'" (Brontë 8). Her angry and chaotic emotions have built up since she lost her parents and was adopted unwillingly by Mrs. Reed. Jane cannot find her place in this family. Her anger and desperation becomes more intense each time Mrs. Reed's...