As I mentioned in my previous post, I quite often forget the beginning of Jane Eyre when she is a child, focusing mostly on her time at Thornfield when I think about the book.
However, the beginning of the book, as told from Jane’s younger self, is very powerful. I think we get a better sense of Jane and her surroundings because of her youth. Maybe it’s because we assume children are more truthful, or lack the artifice and intelligence to dupe us. But there is definitely something more tangible about how Jane suffers emotionally and physically during her life with the Reeds. In particular, I was struck by this sentence:
“For me, the watches of that long night passed in ghastly wakefulness; strained by dread: such dread as children only can feel.”
That sentence really stuck with me. I regularly have nightmares and always have and while there are some from my adult dreaming life that scare the crap out of me, I don’t know that any of them have stuck with me as much as those from my childhood. There was something different about being afraid as a child – maybe it’s because you’re smaller and less able to protect yourself and lack the reasoning that’s often required to pull you out of your fright.