Moor House in Jane Eyre

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  • 0:05 Moor House in ''Jane Eyre''
  • 0:56 The Site of Jane's…
  • 2:56 The Place Where Jane…
  • 3:44 Where Jane Learns What…
  • 5:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Terri Beth Miller

Terri Beth has taught college writing and literature courses since 2005 and has a PhD in literature.

Charlotte Bronte's ''Jane Eyre'' is not just the love story of the humble governess and Mr. Rochester. It is also the story of Jane's discovery of her individuality. The setting of Moor House plays a vital role in Jane's emerging sense of self.

Moor House in Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte's 1847 masterpiece, Jane Eyre, is more than a classic love story. It is also a bildungsroman, or story of development, that traces Jane Eyre's life from childhood into adulthood. In the process, it tells the story of Jane's emerging individuality, the evolution of an independent will so few women in Jane's era were permitted to exercise. The setting of Moor House plays a key role in Jane's emerging sense of self.

A novel's setting, or the physical environment in which the story occurs, is often vital to the plot itself. Setting often acts almost as another character, driving the narrative forward and often mirroring the inner lives of the characters. So what role does Moor House play in Jane Eyre?

The Site of Jane's Emerging Independence

Jane comes to Moor House after she learns that Rochester is married and that he has been hiding his deranged wife in the attic of his ancestral home, Thornfield Hall. Jane breaks her engagement to Rochester and leaves.

She's so distraught and distracted, though, that she loses her money and luggage in the carriage she fled Thornfield in. Broke, homeless, and friendless, she wanders the English moors, or grasslands.

Starving and nearly frozen after wandering the barren countryside for days, she collapses at the door of Moor House. There, the Rivers siblings, St. John, Diana, and Mary, find her and nurse her back to health.

Prior to her engagement with Rochester, Jane had been resigned to her lot in life. An impoverished orphan, she expected her course to be set: she would live her life alone, surviving as a governess, but with no home or family to call her own. And she would live with the restlessness of her spirit, a yearning for adventure and excitement. She had no other choice.

Her engagement to Rochester briefly gives her a glimpse of a different future, but now that that seems gone, Jane has to figure out, once again, who she is and what she can expect for her future.

But Moor House does not remain a depressing place, a place of settling and resignation, for long. She develops close friendships with the Rivers siblings, especially Diana and Mary. St. John even establishes her in a small village school nearby. Though she moves into the little school, she still retains her connection to nearby Moor House and to the Rivers.

Because of Moor House, Jane begins to achieve her independence. She creates a life for herself that is based upon her own choice and not determined only by her circumstances. The life of a governess is a life of being at the mercy of your employer and the whim of your pupil. But as the headmistress of her little school, Jane is at last captain of her fate. She calls the shots.

The Place Where Jane Finds Her Family

Moor House also gives Jane what she has craved since childhood: a family. Jane had always been alone in the world. Jane was raised for the first 10 years of her life by her wealthy Aunt Reed, who despised her and ultimately shipped her off to a ramshackle boarding school for orphaned girls, Lowood.

At Moor House, however, comes the miraculous discovery that Jane does, indeed, have family: the Rivers are her cousins. They share in common a distant uncle who has recently died and left Jane his sizable inheritance.

Jane is thrilled. The inheritance gives her the financial independence she craves, but wealth is the last thing she wants. She splits the money with the Rivers family, securing a comfortable future for them all, and settles in to the comforts of family.

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