Nov 6, 2017 in Literature Category

Progression to Selfhood


Progression to selfhood entails the formation of personality traits that build a person’s character and habits. The feelings and experiences that people undergo during their young stages of development have a great bearing on a person’s character, tests and preferences in life. This paper focuses on the experiences that both Jane Eyre and Janie experienced during their different multiple stages of development. The paper will juxtapose the circumstances that influenced their personality as well as compare and contrast their progression to selfhood.

Jane’s journey to selfhood seems to have been greatly influenced by the harsh experiences she underwent through when she lost her parents because of a mysterious disease. This situation left her with no other choice. She had to swallow her pride and sacrifice most of her wishes to put up with her agonizing and ruthless aunt together with her three abusive children. The gruesome surroundings accelerated by harassment and abuse made the life unbearable for poor Jane. In the novel, Jane is submitted to emotional stress and tension when she has been locked in a room referred to as the “red room” by the author, where her uncle had succumbed to death, and there, she is haunted by visions of her late uncle. This feelings and experiences culminate into a strong force that influences Jane’s personality. Jane finds it strength to conquer her emotions, which brings to light the progression of Jane’s selfhood associating with the house that was to build her as a little child. Joining Low Wood School for girls sounds like a liberation to Jane only for her hopes to be curtailed when she becomes branded a deceitful person and further shamefully embarrassed before an assembly. Their boarding rooms are pathetic, entailing cold rooms, poor meals, and thin clothing (Bronte, 2001).

Living in dismal conditions and traumatizing experiences makes a person distraught, withdrawn, and restless in future. For instance, when a person feels that certain dwelling conditions are better than the conditions they are presently living in, they tend to have an everlasting longing for another place or condition. In the case of Jane Eyre, she is obsessed with houses, basically, because she never had the opportunity to stay in a good house while she was growing up. In that case, one can attribute apprehension, panic, and restlessness to their association with the kind of housing they had grown in. It is obvious that when one undergoes harrowing experiences living with people that have malicious intentions to ruin them or subject one to oppression, it can lead to development of a submissive character or a certain rigid character accompanied by a rebellious attitude. Vengeance comes in to fuel a person’s selfhood coupled by an insatiable rage firing within. A certain control can be, however, developed by the person, which does not necessarily mean that one becomes oblivious but one can develop a positive response to a situation hoping for conduciveness in the long run.

Selfhood development of the two characters relates much to self-awareness and ability to express oneself. Sometimes a person is unable to communicate properly to those around him/her, given that what they have to say is unpleasant and may arouse negative emotions like jealousy, greed, and envy amongst those closely involved. Secrets crop up and one lives with fear and troubled spirits placing them in a state of unawareness and belief that they are not thought of. It is also likely to cause suppression where ones anger or denial of circumstances is pacified due to lack of a will power and chance to contribute or challenge events set forth. The only option has to be compliance, and this leads to disillusionment of selfhood and intensified fears through ones subconscious.

In a battle to succeed a restraint prison of feminism filled with oppressive thoughts and an alter meant to protect and shelter a victim of a life shaped with associations, such as that of Jane, from sudden apparitions, selfhood is seen to dominate a person so strongly and without care and keenness that it can overwhelmingly contribute to the road towards self-destruction. Growing up in such a family like Janie’s may stifle one’s selfhood and liberty. Marriage is considered mandatory in most societies, and it should not be finalized on grounds of insecurity or efforts of one’s parents or guardians to facilitate a union propelled by their fears and misconceptions. The type of man can influence a woman’s selfhood depending on what governs the marriage. For others like Janie, there is a tremendous belief that love and trust should be important to run a successful marriage. Discomfort occurs where a good rapport is not struck and one tends to liberate him/her by making an escape. The dissatisfaction due to absence of a close bond queries the real reason of marriage and submission. However, a woman becomes relaxed and subdued when in ties with a man that can provide and promote a tolerable environment for her. Cooperation develops into a will to work things out even though there is no complete fulfillment of their wishes in the marriage. This willingness enables one to step out of their initial needs and comply with what is available as long as it is free from depression or rather aggression (Hurston, 2000).

In the light of finding all that has been one’s dream and gripping it with tenacity, fulfillment and satisfaction stream in and immensely build up a durable, confident, and courageous selfhood. Thus, Janie has experienced love and trust with Tea Cake: a man she had envisioned and a relationship she had dreamed of spur an enriching experience that brightens her life. A series of adventures take place that allow jealousy and doubt to weaken a relationship. Even though such a strong willed character in a person rarely fades, faith in the ability to face and tackle upcoming events rids of fear and oppressive thoughts. Men, therefore, greatly influence the way a woman embraces her life.

Comparison of Jane’s and Janie’s experiences in their multiple stages of life that evolve them into who they are can be traced to a history of a troubled past of both. It is evident that their childhood was not a bed of roses and supervening occurrences spelled out how their lives were to be lived. Surroundings seem to bring about a certain discomfort as lives are run and affected by those in close relations depriving the two women of a right to self expression and freedom to make choices and decisions that are fundamental in their lives. Accounts of oppression and lack of free will could easily point one’s progression to selfhood. Every time a situation changes, it instills a feeling of desperation when some of the expectations are trampled upon. Acts of harshness and mastery of a person’s self will leads to rebellious attitudes illustrated by moving away to avoid excessive submission. Escape proves to be a considerable solution in both Jane and Janie’s situations.

A contrast in the selfhood development of the two women is noticed when rage and fear of prison of feminist takes toll resulting into restlessness in the association with houses, while due to association with men, dissatisfaction and discomfort come out more clearly. The desire to take vengeance is overpowered when one comes face to face with reality and realizes that it is impossible to erase what happened, but the only appealing solution is to live with the truth and accept the present condition wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, in the association with men, the feeling of appreciation, love, and trust overrules dissatisfaction and discomfort and promotes a confident and courageous selfhood that is able to get rid of unnecessary tension.


In conclusion, Jane’s obsession with houses produces the most complete self because households build people and their relationships with others. One develops attributes of free will and successful bonds if brought up in serene environments with guidance, appreciation, and communication to cover up for coldness and distantness. With a confident selfhood, one can avoid aggression in association with men and realize that they are entitled to live their lives in the most satisfactory way and make decisions that satisfy their lives and not the society.

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