Jane Eyre Questions and Answers
by Charlotte Brontë

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Discuss the treatment of childhood in the novel Jane Eyre.

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In the seventeenth and eighteenth century there was both a philosophical and psychological debate about how the mind was formed and stocked with ideas.  While some viewed a child's mind as a blank page, Mr. Brocklehurst of Bronte's Jane Eyre held the Calvinistic view that children were born with original sin upon them, so their souls must be cleansed by means of stern measures so that they may be fit for salvation.  In short, he held children as unregenerate beings.  The Romantics, however, held that children were naturally good and it was society that corrupted them later.  They believed in the "natural child" and felt that children should not be hurried into adulthood.

This Romantic view coincides with that of the Victorian Charlotte Bronte, who possessed an awareness of the vulnerability of the child at the mercy of a Mrs. Reed, who finds them tiresome.  She was also very aware of such institutions as Lowood School which summarily categorized children and forced them into more...

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