Jane Eyre Isolation Quotes

“God will punish her: He might strike her dead in the midst of her tantrums, and then where would she go? Come, Bessie, we will leave her: I wouldn’t have her heart for anything. Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by yourself; for if you don’t repent, something bad might be permitted to come down the chimney, and fetch you away.” They went, shutting the door, and locking it behind them.
The red-room was a spare chamber, very seldom slept in; I might say never, indeed unless when a chance influx of visitors at Gateshead Hall rendered it necessary to turn to account all accommodation it contained: yet it was one of the largest and stateliest chambers in the mansion. A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask, stood out like a tabernacle in the centre; the two large windows with their blinds always drawn down, were half shrouded in festoons and falls of similair drapery; the carpet was red; the table at the foot of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth; the walls were a soft fawn colour with a blush of pink in it; the wardrobe, the toilet-table, the chairs were of darkly polished old mahogany. Out of these deep surrounding shades rose high, and glared white, the piled-up mattresses and pillows of the bed, spread with a snowy Marseilles counterpane. Scarcely less prominent was an ample cushioned easy-chair near the head of the bed, also white, with a footstool before it; and looking, as I thought, like a pale throne.

– Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, Chapter 2. Jane is threatened with the wrath of God by Miss Abbot after her fight with her cousin John Reed. As punishment Abbot and Bessie imprison Jane in the red room on Mrs. Reed’s instructions. This is the death chamber in which her kindly uncle breathed his last moments nine years before and where she is meant to pray and repent for her misbehavior. But for Jane the red room more signifies hell and divine vengeance. The stern God of the Old Testament and religion are used in this instance to punish children who are seen not to conform. The room has a Gothic spookiness about it. It is red nearly from top to bottom, dark and rarely used, and its tabernacle and pillers conjure up Biblical imagery. The Gothic influences in Jane’s life are foreshadowed here. So too is the fire that Bertha Mason will later start because she is locked away in Edward Rochester’s attic. The red is symbolic of Jane’s fury and passion over her mistreatment and her struggles to find freedom and belonging. The red room is also a symbol for femininity and the more submissive feminine behavior that Jane is expected to adopt.

I began to recall what I had heard of dead men, troubled in their graves by the violation of their last wishes, revisiting the earth to punish the perjured and avenge the oppressed; and I thought Mr. Reed’s spirit, harassed by the wrongs of his sister’s child, might quit its abode – whether in the church vault or in the unknown world of the departed – and rise before me in this chamber. I wiped my tears and hushed my sobs, fearful lest any sign of violent grief might waken a preternatural voice to comfort me, or elicit from the gloom some haloed face, bending over me with strange pity. This idea, consolatory in theory, I felt would be terrible if realised: with all my might I endeavoured to stifle it – I endeavoured to be firm. Shaking my hair from my eyes, I lifted my head and tried to look boldly round the dark room: at this moment a light gleamed on the wall. Was it, I asked myself, a ray from the moon penetrating some aperture in the blind? No; moonlight was still, and this stirred; while I gazed, it glided up to the ceiling and quivered over my head. I can now conjecture readily that this streak of light was, in all likelihood, a gleam from a lantern, carried by some one across the lawn: but then, prepared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings; something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated; endurance broke down; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort. Steps came running along the outer passage; the key turned, Bessie and Abbot entered.

– Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, Chapter 2. Jane recalls the horrific Gothic experience she had on the night her Aunt Reed jailed her in the ominous red room as punishment for her altercation with her son John. Looking back she admits that it was likely a gleam of light from a lantern she saw. But as a 10-year-child child at the time she believed that she witnessed a supernatural vision of her dead Uncle Reed. She imagined him coming to avenge the wrongs of his wife Mrs. Reed for breaking her promise to him to care for Jane as one of her own children. Jane describes the terror that she felt resulting from her aunt’s abuse in imprisoning her in the room, as she screams out in panic, pounds the door and the servants come running.
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