Bronte’s Jane Eyre: Depictions of Childhood

Lesson rationale

In this activity, students will examine the early experiences of Charlotte Brontë and explore the context of childhood at the beginning of the 19th century. Students will consider Victorian philosophies relating to child-rearing, the methods used to control children, representations of these elements within Jane Eyre, and Brontë’s depiction of a young girl’s burgeoning resistance to adult tyranny.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • At the beginning of the 19th century, what were the dominant philosophies and religious beliefs underpinning theories of both the nature of the child and childhood?
  • What methods did adults use to control children and enforce their own views?
  • What is new about the way in which Brontë constructs the character of Jane as a girl who questions the views of adults?