Analysis Of Romance Genre in Literature
I have read the following three novels: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. These books appealed to me as they represent a realistic image of love and romance in showing that life is often more complicated than we initially assume it to be. In today’s world, generally speaking, people are looking for love in their relationships within their family, friends and partners. It was fascinating to discover the contrasts around the theme of love in the 18th century novels by Bronte and Austen as compared with a modern day setting in Me Before You. A definition of romance literature quoted from Wikipedia is “a literary genre developed in Western culture which focuses on the romantic relationship between two or more people”. Within the confines of a novel, romance is explored in the narrative and protagonists fight for their true love by overcoming obstacles on their life’s journey. This genre centres on loving one’s partner for their personality and not on the basis of their appearance. The Romance genre is explored through the journey and life stories of characters in the 18th century as well as modern day.
All three novels do not depict a typical modern-day love story where a couple meets one another, falls in love, then experiences a simple problem that is needing to be resolved and ends in a happy marriage. Instead, the couples in these novels face quite challenging dilemmas and need to exert much effort and fortitude in order to achieve their long sought-after happy ending. Bronte’s protagonist, the young adult Jane Eyre, undergoes a realisation of who her true love ultimately is meant to be, simultaneously, embarks on an inner journey of her own and faces various struggles along the journey. One of the major obstacles that she faces is the fear of ‘losing herself’. This fear provides the motivation for Jane to reject a marriage proposal from Mr Rochester. By experiencing these dilemmas, Jane was able to undergo quite a development within herself which was also a test of her self-suffiency. Bronte has shown that one of the major obstacles the protagonists had to overcome was the fighting within herself as she had to feel independent enough to be part of a loving relationship with Mr Rochester. Similarly, the novel Pride and Prejudice also explores the idea of overcoming dilemmas to achieve true love.
The main love story is between Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist, and a gentleman of higher social standing, Mr. Darcy Austen shows the various obstacles that the couple has to overcome in order to realize their true love for each other such as the author introduces Lady Catherine de Bough (Darcy’s aunt) as the antagonist as she asks Elizabeth to refuse Mr Darcy’s proposal due to her lower social standing. This expresses the importance of social status in the 18th century. Even though social status was so prominent in the 18th century, it still played a minor role in modern day as another obstacle Moyes highlights in the novel Me Before You is social status. Louisa Clark’s family holds the perspective that she is inadequate socially in terms with Will Traynor.
In the novel Pride and Prejudice, Austen also shows the love relationships between the other Bennet daughters such as Lydia Bennet and Wickham and Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley. By introducing the other love relationships, Austen reinforces the genre of romance as the other two couples also have to undergo difficult struggles to remain together. In contrast with the two 18th century novels, Moyes has depicted the genre of romance quite differently It provides a more realistic image of love in modern day society where a happy ending is not realised between the two partners. The protagonist, Louisa Clark, embarks on a journey as carer to Will Traynor, a man who has been left a paraplegic after an accident. Louisa and Will slowly fall in love, but Will faces severe disability, depression and thoughts of suicide. His depressive mental state ultimately results in becoming a difficult obstacle for the two lovers to overcome.
Therefore, Moyes, Bronte and Austen have assessed the genre of romance similarly as it depicts the obstacles that couples had to overcome and also the fact that the couples loved each other for who they really are and not on the basis of their social status and looks. For example, in Jane Eyre, even though Mr Rochester loses his eyesight, Jane still truly loves him. In Pride and Prejudice, even though Elizabeth has lower social standing than Mr Darcy, he still truly loves her and in Me Before You, even though Will is paralysed and in a wheelchair, Louisa still truly loves him. These examples and ideas reinforce the meaning of love in Romance Literature, that is, Romantic love consists of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles towards the goal of achieving lasting love.
The novel that I enjoyed reading the most was Me Before You as it is a depiction of a modern day love story and thus provides a context that I can relate to more realistically. It was quite interesting for me to see how Louisa fell in love with Will despite his severe disabilities and how all that mattered to her in the end was his personality and not his physical limitations. This novel also shows how the modern-day value of familial support regardless of hardships is instrumental in communicating love and support towards a person overcoming physical disabilities. I would like to end off with a quote that summarises the key idea of Romance Literature: “the theme of love revolves around the fact that love is not truly just on face value and that the most perfectly suitable person might not be the prettiest or the richest or the one with the similar background but the one with tolerance and patience and a similar heart. ”Thank you.
In Which Two Different Novelists Offer Criticism Of Victorian Twist And Jane Eyre
Both Oliver Twist and Jane Eyre are stories that tackle the dilemma of Victorian society’s power struggles, the issues with discrimination and the hardships of class mobility. Many parallels can be drawn between the two eponymous characters. They are both born orphans and spend the formative years of their lives in abusive environments due to their unfortunate nature as orphans and the lack of generational wealth they carry because of it. Due to this they live incredibly hard lives even compared to many from the Victorian era. Dickens and Bronte make sure to portray the lower classes in the beginning of their books as having no way out of their living situations (due to Victorian society’s power structure) short of a miracle (such as coming across an unknown inheritance).
Dickens and Bronte portray the hardships of class mobility in such a bleak way as to parallel the real lives of many of the lower classes in real life Victorian society who did not have a happy ending waiting for them. Both protagonists are treated almost like criminals in their respective texts purely for their class, showing how both authors’ intended to paint and reflect the bleak reality of the Victorian society they were living in. Bronte and Dickens both lived in the same time period their novels were written about. They portray England as being so concerned with matters of class it gets to the point of obsession. Neither author agrees with this outlook on class and serves to criticise it through their description of both the rich and poor.
In Oliver Twist, Dickens employs clever use of sarcasm and irony when describing the rich and the events that encircle them (specifically in relation to their clothes). Dickens often uses clothes as an indicator of social standing or “power” in Victorian society and a perfect example of this can be seen in Mr. Bumble before and after losing his signature beadle hat. With the hat on, he is his usual pompous and arrogant self, concerned only about putting up a public front about caring about the children in the factory, but when he is reintroduced later in the story without the hat, he comes across as pathetic and weak, showing who he truly is. In chapter 37 he is described as having “The mighty cocked-hat was replaced by a modest round one.
Mr. Bumble was no longer a beadle.” The use of the word “mighty” now being replaced by “modest” perfectly sums up Mr Bumble’s character and also works as a wider microcosm for the perceived morality behind the Victorian power structure. All of the upper-class people in Oliver Twist depend on keeping up illusions to appear like good people, whilst people like Oliver are good regardless of what they wear, showing Dicken’s dismissal of the widely held concept that class was equal to morality. A similar example of this can also be seen early in Jane Eyre in which the servants find it harder to relate and sympathize with Jane due to them not considering or finding her conventionally attractive. Abbot states of her “if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that”. This shows that in Victorian society, not only does the power structure apply to the rich and poor and what garments they wear, but even to things you are born with such as your facial structure and features, those being born with what Victorians considered “fairer” features getting better treatment than those with features like Jane. Bronte uses this passage not only to highlight the deeply flawed thinking and logic of Victorians of this time but also to suggest that whilst the people judging Jane may think they are superior to her (as they perceive themselves as more beautiful than her), she actually stands above them on the moral ladder due to her actually judging people on the timbre of their character.
Something which is further propagated by her eventual relationship with Rochester, disregarding his physical appearance. Both authors attempt to convey the point that regardless of where someone is born in the standing of the Victorian power structure it does not reflect their intelligence or morals. In Oliver Twist, Dickens makes sure to highlight that poor and rich people are of the same intelligence and have just as good (if not, oftentimes better) morals as rich people. It is only though how the poor get treated that they are pushed towards a life of crime. Many examples of Oliver of being treated as an animal or as something less than human are portrayed throughout the book which directly conflict with the way the reader knows Oliver should be treated (as a kind, caring young boy). A particularly striking example can be seen in Mrs. Sowerberry’s reaction towards parish children stating, “I see no saving in parish children, not I; for they always cost more to keep than they are worth”.
Assigning a worth to these children and talking about them in terms of money seems very clinical and dehumanises them. This again allows Dicken’s to criticise the power structure of Victorian society as if we can sympathize with Oliver we could likely sympathize with the many poor children who were in Oliver’s exact same position. Bronte echoes a similar sentiment in Jane Eyre. Bronte paints the orphans as underprivileged and mistreated, something which Jane has experienced prevalently through her childhood. With reminders such as “you ought to be aware, Miss, that you are under obligations to Mrs. Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn you off, you would have to go to the poor-house.” Almost making her seem like an item to be owned than an actual person with feelings and emotions. The cautionary, bordering on mean tone highlights the reality of the way many upper-class people and adults spoke to orphans and lower class people in Victorian society and only served as a way for the rich to try and solidify Victorian society’s power structures to keep themselves in a good place.
Both protagonists of Oliver Twist and Jane Eyre have different ways of reacting to their mistreatment due to Victorian society’s power structure and different ways of manifesting and utilising these feelings and thoughts that come along with it. Dickens has intentionally written Oliver to be a timid, likeable and model boy (partly due to his age and that it makes it easier for us to sympathize with him and that it shows any sort of person can come from any walk of life). Because of these traits Oliver is apprehensive to incite anyone’s anger, even if they have hurt him. He never takes explicit/open action against his oppressors. Critic Irving Howe describes Oliver as “an orphan, a waif, an outcast. He is a puling, teary little fellow, never rebellious for more than a few minutes, and seldom even angry. He is a perfect little gentleman”. Regardless Oliver’s mistreatment by the Victorian society’s power structure incites a burning desire for justice and revolution in the mind of the reader against this status quo.
As such even when small acts of rebellion (that Oliver himself may not even recognize at his age) occur such as in the beginning of the text when he has “suffered the tortures of slow starvation for three months” and is, at last, so “voracious and wild with hunger” that, one evening he dares to ask the Master for extra food. His scared and mousy plea of “Please, sir, I want some more” is far from a massive, co-ordinated act of rebellion against the system that has wrong him for so many years but coming from a boy who has been undeservingly abused since birth it does take a big amount of courage. This is Dicken’s painting the good qualities such as courage that will take Oliver into great places in his future. This is him showing that whilst the class divide, and the current Victorian society’s power system may be hard to overcome, it is poor people with heart such as Oliver that will change it for the better as opposed to the throes of selfish rich/upper class people we encounter throughout the text in Oliver’s eyes. Jane, a child of more fiery and strong-spirited tendencies, exhibits her rebellion more forcefully. Because she has had to depend on herself for consolation and sustenance throughout her lonely childhood, she is quite self-sufficient. As critic Heidi Kelchner puts it, “Jane’s lack of family…has instilled in her a strong sense of self-reliance and independence. Even as a child in Sarah Reed’s house, Jane recognizes the injustice of her predicament” (1196). This recognition is most strongly revealed early in the novel with Jane’s passionate verbal insurrection against Mrs. Reed. The event which triggers this explosion occurs during the visit of Mr. Brocklehurst, the owner of the boarding school to which Jane will soon be sent. Without allowing the girl to defend herself, Mrs. Reed tells Mr. Brocklehurst that Jane is a wicked and deceitful child in need of strict discipline (37). This extreme injustice drives Jane to vent the inner feelings of revolt that she has so long suppressed.
Looking back on the event from a more mature perspective, Jane eloquently describes her emotions at this time: “Speak I must; I had been trodden on severely” (40). The rare burst of defiance that follows leaves Jane with a “sense of freedom, of triumph” (41); she feels as if she has broken free from an “invisible bond [and] struggled out into unhoped-for liberty” (42). Yet despite this momentary outburst of rebellion, Jane still retains her strict sense of right and wrong. After the first wave of exultation rolls over her, she realizes the wickedness of having spoken so disrespectfully to a woman nearly four times her age. The adult Jane explains, “A child cannot quarrel with its elders, as I had done; cannot give its furious feelings uncontrolled play, as I had given mine; without experiencing afterward the pang of remorse and the chill of reaction” (43). Jane’s strength of character and courage to speak out against what she knows to be wrong are tempered with a firm set of moral standards and convictions. Like Oliver, she possesses the qualities that will enable her to rise from a childhood of poverty and misery to a life of fulfillment and happiness. Both characters do, however, gain happy endings towards the end of their respective texts in spite of the hardships they face with Oliver being adopted into a loving family and gaining rights to his inheritance and Jane settling down with Rochester, gaining her inheritance and having a child. This again reflects both authors views that whilst society may not view the lower classes as being equal to the upper classes, there is indeed a way out and a happy result waiting for them.
The Use Of Literacy Techniques And The Narrative Voice in “Jane Eyre” By Charlotte Bronte
Through the use of a nineteenth-century gothic setting in Ferndean, the author, Charlotte Bronte, uses literacy techniques and loves to develop the narrative voice of Jane as an independent and passionate young woman.
The first time Jane lays eyes on Ferndean Mansion she feels it is a place of solitude and death. Jane’s journey through the thick forest to reach Ferndean demonstrates how secluded the house is from the outside world .When Jane re-encounters Rochester, she uses the imagery that he previously used to describe her; he is a “wronged” bird, a “caged” eagle. However, with Jane’s emotional development and new financial wealth her decision to re-enter a relationship with Rochester is impartial, she is now free of any feelings of inadequateness, which is juxtaposed to Rochester who is now fettered. In their first conversation, Jane highlights that she is now financially and emotionally independent and uninhibited from all binds “I am independent, sir, as well as rich: I am my own mistress”. Earlier in the novel, Rochester had objectified Jane, but now due to her newfound wealth and liberation he accepts her as his equal and his marriage proposal is based purely on love and not on status or appearance as shown by the quote “Never mind fine clothes and jewels, now: all that is not worth a fillip”. Similar to Jane’s character development, Rochester needed to “pass through the valley of the shadow of death” which is representative of the suffering he has undergone from his blindness and maiming from the fire, and his detachment from the world he knew in order to tame his fire and virility. Rochester’s loss of vision can be seen as what he needed to lose for Jane to have her ideal relationship, just as Bertha’s life had to be sacrificed. Both hidden in Ferndean’s seclusion, Jane and Rochester have attained spiritual isolation. Jane reminds the readers of the telepathic bond between them and emphasizes Rochester’s atonement of his sins for attempting to make Jane his mistress. “I did wrong: I would have sullied my innocent flower”. Jane’s forgiveness of Rochester allows for a deeper connection between the couple. Bronte uses this psychic affinity to emphasize the spiritual bond between Jane and Rochester. The remoteness of the gothic Ferndean mansion, which is fitted with narrow windows and doors, combined with the density of the surrounding forest would suggest an ominous ending for the couple and shows that no physic or physical barriers can block their passion for one another, and that their relationship is on a spiritual level.
Bronte uses symbolism to explore the conflict between social classism and religion which is used to shape Jane’s identity. Jane first experiences social hierarchy as an orphan at Gateshead where she is considered lower class. Due to her lower-class status, she has a traumatic childhood where she is locked in The Red Room, which serves as a symbol of the obstacles Jane faces on her journey to freedom. The deep planted feelings of exile and being physically undesirable are embedded in Jane’s mind by her childhood family, the Reeds, and her distressing experiences in The Red Room “my habitual mood of humiliation, self-doubt, forlorn depression, fell damp on the embers of my decaying ire”. The Red Room is symbolic and has shaped Jane who often thinks about it when she feels ostracized or imprisoned, such as when she leaves Thornfield. The room is also a symbol for Jane’s lack of social standing and being separated from those in high society, and the exclusion and imprisonment she battles throughout her journey. Social class governed life in nineteenth-century Britain; Jane’s social advancement allows Bronte to examine the sources and consequences of class boundaries. The game ‘charades’ is symbolic of the façade of the upper-class use to interact. An example of this is how Blanche Ingram excels in creating a good performance, which is all there is to her – a show “you would not encounter such a low imposter? Dismiss her, by all means, at once!”. Blanche and most of the upper class treat those they deem inferior as extras in their ‘performance’. Jane is an exception as she saw through this ‘charade’ of the pretentiousness upper class and considered the social order as a ridiculous game being played. The self-importance placed on the social hierarchy by the upper class themselves is juxtaposed with the character Helen Burns who is symbolic of New Testament ideals. Helen is instrumental is Jane’s development and is paramount in helping Jane with her internal struggles against social oppression. Helen embodies the idea of loving indiscriminately, having the unwavering patience for others and turning the other cheek, unlike those who use social hierarchy as a platform of power. Helen does not use religion for selfish gain and is an emblem of positivity. Jane admires Helen for her ability to love herself and her caring nature whereas Jane overthinks of the opinion of others “if others don’t love me, I would rather die than live her”, however Jane knows she still needs social recognition in her life in order to feel fulfilled. Bronte uses the symbols of The Red Room and “charades” to show the social oppression Jane growing up, and Helen is the symbolic character that shows Jane there is a way to not conform to those social roles.
Female Protagonists:“Emma” by Jane Austen and “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
Commentary on “Emma” by Jane Austen and “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë, comparing the ways in which both passages introduce possible suitors
In both “Emma” and “Jane Eyre”, we are told a story of two female characters who are dealing with the prospect of being involuntarily partnered with a male suitor. Austen and Brontë portray their female protagonists as erring between opinions about the potential suitors and through contradiction they produce a sense of undecided emotions for Emma and Jane Eyre.
Austen and Brontë create different situations for Emma and Jane Eyre, which creates an instant foresight into how the characters are feeling about their suitors. In Emma, Austen provides a large amount of detail in her description of the setting, for example when she writes, “The charming Augusta Hawkins… of so many thousands that would always be called ten;”. This quotation represents one major clause of a very long sentence and by using sentences of such length and including such verbose vocabulary, Austen gives the impression that, despite Emma’s dissatisfaction, the situation is not an emergency and Emma does not seem desperate. On the other hand, Brontë uses short, broken up clauses to create a sense of urgency and the requirement of stealth felt by Jane Eyre, for example when she writes, “and he is occupied too; perhaps if I walk softly, I can slip away unnoticed.” The use of punctuation to split up the sentence creates an image of Jane Eyre panicking and, the brevity of the clauses could reference her short of breath as she is scared of being seen.
Brontë also creates a closer insight into Jane Eyre’s emotions by writing in the first person. The character-lead narrative offers a very personal perspective for the readers and eliminates any sense of prejudice by a narrator figure as the readers are hearing the unspoilt thoughts of Jane Eyre. Austen writes in the third person which creates a much greater distance and emotional detachment between the readers and Emma. This, as opposed to the use of the first person in “Jane Eyre”, means that there is a chance that the personal opinions and emotions of Emma may be altered or even omitted by the narrator. The use of the third person, in my opinion, limits the level of sympathy that the readers can feel for Emma because they have lost sight of the personal inner emotions of the protagonist and can no longer tell whether what they are being told is genuine. We see this when Austen writes, “She was, in fact, beginning very much to wonder that she had ever thought him pleasing at all;”. The effect on the readers is definitely different from the one which is created by Brontë in “Jane Eyre”, because the feeling of low self-value that Emma is feeling is lost because we are not told how Emma is feeling by Emma herself whereas, despite being written under a male pseudonym, most would argue that Jane Eyre displays a clear insight into female psychology, written so convincingly because of its female author.
The uses of the first and third persons by the authors offers up an interesting insight into the customs of the time. Both texts were written in the early to mid-nineteenth century, when the industrial revolution was beginning to take shape, and when the opinions and values of women were treated very differently, despite the changes in the organisation of the country’s economic management. At the time, women were expected to marry somebody chosen by her parents without resistance, and then to conform to whatever her new and involuntary husband wants her to do. We can see a clear following of this custom by Emma as she seems not to have her own opinion because it is being told to us by an external narrator. However, contrary to the customs of the time, Jane Eyre appears to be hiding from her potential suitor, Mr. Rochester. This is a much more urgent cry for help in that Jane Eyre is using her own voice. Brontë introduces a vivid sense of smell by using words such as “sweet-briar and southernwood”. The identification of Mr. Rochester from these specific smells, Brontë familiarises the readers with the suitor which also adds to Jane Eyre’s desperation because the readers feel acquainted with the man from which she is running.
Both protagonists contradict their initial opinions on their suitors, and seem to experience a significant inner conflict. In Emma, Austen gives a very glowing introduction to Mr. Elton, calling him “a very happy man,” who has changed his life from being “rejected and mortified,” to “gay and self-satisfied.” Austen’s use of hendiadys and anaphora when she repeats, “he came,” and writes phrases such as “eager and busy.” The use of more than one word to fulfil one purpose further highlights the lack of urgency felt by Emma. Then, later on in the passage, the narrator tells us that “she would have been thankful to be assured of never seeing him again.” This vacillation appears to contradict my initial thought about Emma conforming to the customs of the time because now Emma’s opinions have changed and are being shared. We also see some contradictory opinions in “Jane Eyre”. Initially, Mr. Rochester is presented as quite terrifying, implied by the fact that Jane Eyre appears to be hiding from him. Brontë uses the phrase, “that the crackle of the pebbly gravel might not betray me.” This implies severe consequences for her if she is to be found out by Mr. Rochester. However, when Mr. Rochester does discover Jane Eyre, his language appears friendly and approachable when he says, “Jane, come and look at this fellow.” Brontë uses a very short paragraph and then a longer one with a very fast pace to create suspense. The delay of the final line also emphasises the contrast between Brontë’s initial presentation of Mr. Rochester, and the one we have now seen.
Jane Eyre As an Appropriate Heroine Of The Feminist Movement
A literary hero is often defined as “a character in a literary work, especially the leading male/female character, who is especially virtuous, usually larger than life, sometimes almost godlike” (W.W. Norton). These characters also often embody the ideals their culture.
In the mid-nineteenth century, a typical woman would have carried the burden of “staying in her place.” In other words, she was subject to the universally established standards and social roles that society had traditionally placed upon her. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre depicts Jane Eyre as a feminist heroine of the 19th century. At a time when women depended on men financially and socially and were considered as property only useful for family life and marriage. Yet if Charlotte Bronte’s iconic character Jane Eyre had, in fact, existed in that time period, she would have defied most of these cultural standards and proved herself a prime example for aspiring feminists of her day. Jane would have adequately represented their unique version of a mighty heroine. Jane’s profound commitment to dignity, independence, freedom of choice, unwillingness to submit to a man’s emotional power and eager willingness to speak her mind represents sufficient evidence of why Jane Eyre remains undoubtedly a fictional heroine of the feminist cause.
It could be respectively said Jane is a “bad” feminist. However, it’s impossible to naturally suggest that a novel written in the 19th century should perfectly fit the mold of what 21st-century feminism should be. Feminism is a social movement powered by people, and because it is powered by people, it can have its faults. Alternatively, literature should function as an education in how modern society has evolved tremendously since the 1840s. We should thoughtfully look at how Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte fit and instantly broke the molds within that time. Maybe in a contemporary Jane Eyre, Jane would say sternly “bye” to Rochester and move to better herself in ways that didn’t involve marriage, but Jane Eyre and its enduring can teach us the poetic beauty of being both true to ourselves, whether we genuinely want to be a budding entrepreneur or a housewife/husband or both and still be an outspoken feminist.
The key point of feminism is not that women are better than men or don’t require men or should shun all of society for some new creation – it’s that women are equal and have a choice. Just as some voluntarily choose to be devoted moms and excellent teachers and gentle nurses still to this glorious day although they are “traditional feminine roles,” does not conclude them less worthy feminists and legendary heroines. Jane Eyre is an appropriate heroine of the feminist movement because she embodies the value of feminism which is equal social, political, intellectual and economic right for both men and women.
Dualistic Exploration of Marriage and Love in Bronte’s Novel
Throughout Jane Eyre, the themes of love and marriage are presented in contrasting ways. In the Lowood education system, Brocklehurst preaches the evangelically tainted message of ‘mortify[ing]… the lusts of the flesh’ in preparation for the majority of the girls having professions as governesses, in which they would be expected to restrain their passions. However, as the narrative develops and Jane encounters Rochester, many of the ideals of the usual Victorian mantras are challenged.
Towards the start of Jane’s time at Thornfiled, she reproaches herself for her infatuation with Rochester and compares herself to Blanche Ingram. In context of the time, Jane, as a governess, would have been placed in an awkward social position, as governesses were considered to be members neither of the upper classes nor of the serving lower classes. Therefore, their role was ill defined as members of the female working class, placing them on the fringes of society. This view is reflected in Jane’s depiction of her own appearance as a ‘dependent and a novice’, showing her to be without freedom and unworldly in comparison to Rochester, who is a ‘man of the world’. This juxtaposition of descriptions sets Jane apart from Rochester due to her inexperience and lack of financial wealth. Also, this extract supports the views of Vaughon, who says that ‘Jane Eyre epitomises the spirit of a passionate heroine, desperately trying to reconcile her desire for love and acceptance with the religious and social doctrines of the Victorian era.’ Jane states that ‘it is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle’, which in relation to narrative style becomes a universal social comment that women should suppress their passionate emotions. The verb ‘kindle’ also has connotations of destruction in relation to fire, which indicates that passion and love are in themselves destructive to women. This metaphor is extended in that passion will ‘devour the life that feeds it’, drawing from the semantic field of appetite to imply that love as a force is deadly, which relates back to Brocklehurst’s teachings as found at Lowood. In fact, around the time the novel was written, Sarah Stricken Ellis stated that it was a woman’s ‘high and holy duty to look after the minor morals of life’, therefore expressing the concept that it is a woman’s duty to restrain passion and base desires, as men do not have the capacity to do so. This view is reflected in Jane’s metaphorical, artistic image of portraiture – ‘Portrait of a Governess, disconnected, poor and plain.’ – which becomes emblematic of the contrast between Jane and Blanche, who is described a ‘an accomplished lady of rank.’ Here, Jane degrades her own status through the use of harsh adjectives as a method of repressing her own feelings and using sense to dictate her emotions. In this regard, the novel’s presentation of marriage is conventional, as this implies that Blanche is better suited to Rochester because of the financial and physical differences between Blanche and Jane.
On the other hand, as the relationship between Jane and Rochester begins to progress, Jane Eyre does begin to challenge some conventions (particularly those of religious origins) which present a boundary between Jane and Rochester. During the conversation preceding Rochester’s first marriage proposal, Woolf’s view that ‘we are conscious of a woman’s presence – of someone resenting the treatment of her sex and pleading for its rights’ is expressed through Jane’s language. Bronte continues her motif of bird imagery in Jane’s metaphor ‘I am no bird; no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will’. This assertion of her independence over her ‘master’ would have been considered highly unorthodox in the context of Victorian society. Rochester, as the ‘giver and protector’, socially has power and authority over his employees; however, Jane chooses to place her integrity over her temptation in the search for her ‘liberty’. She continues to challenge these perceptions through questioning both Rochester’s, and by extension society’s, perceptions of the lower classes: ‘Do you think I am an automation? – a machine without feelings?’. Here, it is suggested that the upper classes perceive the lower classes as unemotional, mechanical beings, yet Jane indicates a need for equality of understanding, the absence of which presents a barrier in their relationship. From a religious perspective, Bronte also challenges the Victorian norm of accepting that God dictates social standing, a view which is expressed in hymns of the time such as Alexander’s ‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’ – ‘God made them high and lowly, and ordered their estate’. Jane states however that if she and Rochester ‘stood at Gods feet, equal – as we are!’, then their ‘spirits’ would recognise each other. Contrary to Alexander’s view, Jane not only suggests that it is possible for a man and woman to be equal, but also that those from different social standings may achieve equality. Therefore, the extract itself may be seen to support Woolf’s view due to Jane’s ‘retort’ against the Victorian mantra.
In another section of the novel, however, during Jane and Rochester’s engagement, Jane is taken dress shopping in Milcote by Rochester so that she will have appropriate clothes for her station as his wife. But, Jane expresses discomfort with Rochester’s desire to make her conform to social conventions of appearance due to her financial inequality and social standing. This view may be exposed through the use of syntax in Jane’s depiction of Rochester – ‘my master and lover’s eye.’ The placing of ‘master’ before ‘lover’ here may be an indication as to Jane’s mindset: i.e. Rochester is Jane’s master before anything else. It may also be argued that the term ‘master’ is ambiguous, connoting both employer and controlling partner, doubling degrading Jane’s status. Jane expresses emotions of ‘annoyance and degradation’ regarding her financial dependency, illustrating her inner conflict over conforming to a woman’s role within Victorian Society as a housewife figure, while wishing for her own ‘liberty’. This may be due to the context of the time, as under the Pre-‘Married Women’s Property Act’ 1870, a woman’s property could only remain her own so long as she remained unmarried. This meant that all of her property, wages, inheritance and money belonged to the husband, which may offer a reason for Jane’s want of independence. Worrall’s statement ‘Jane “refused to subscribe to the Victorian mantra”’ supports this concept, as does Jane’s use of simile in this extract. She states that she is ‘sitting like a Second Danae’, making a classical allusion in reference to a maiden who was seduced by the king of the Gods in Greek mythology. In this story, Jove appears to Danae as a shower of gold while she is imprisoned, which may become a metaphor for the materialistic struggle between Jane and Rochester. However, despite Jane’s comparison to an imprisoned female, her own emotions contradict this image as she is in fact rebelling against her inferiority.
Overall, Bronte explores the themes of love and marriage through both conventional and unconventional settings. While Jane initially subscribes to Victorian mantra regarding both her gender and social status in marriage through the repression of her base desires, once the engagement between Jane and Rochester takes place Bronte begins to lift the lid on the taboo subject concerning a woman’s rights within a relationship. It may also be argued that, with the conclusion ‘reader, I married him’, Jane eventually subscribes to the societal expectations of her. Nonetheless, because Jane is the subject of the sentence with the pronoun ‘I’, Jane may be seen to gain her independence in her marriage.
A Persona in a Setting
In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, the setting is used as a tool to reflect the hardships its protagonist, Jane Eyre, experiences. The locations Jane resides in play an integral part in determining what actions she is to take next. Her transient residencies demonstrate her restless desire to find a purpose in life while respecting the nineteenth-century social codes that restrict her. She strives to maintain her self-respect, but is aware of the conventional subservience of woman she is expected to uphold in the Victorian-era England. The constantly changing setting is a manifestation of Jane Eyre’s struggle to find a permanence that satiates her desire for self-fulfillment.
It is from Gateshead Hall, the home of her prejudice and insensitive aunt, where Jane begins her journey. The opening of its gates is symbolic of her casting off into the world to experience life independent of guidance. She leaves at the break of dawn and “whirl[s] away toÖremote and mysterious regions”, signifying the beginning of a new life unrestrained by familial ties (35). Her arrival at Lowood, a restrictive boarding school, begins during a bitter winter “stiffened in frost, shrouded with snowÖ[with] mists as chill as death” which mirrors the miserable loneliness of adjusting to the school’s oppressive routine. As the years pass, Jane realizes that experiences essential to her aesthetic needs “lay all outside the high and spike-guarded walls” (68), and that she must break with her life of uniformity to “seek real knowledgeÖamidst [the world’s] perils” (77).
The change of scene, the “quiet and lonely hills [that] embrace Thornfield”, where Jane is a governess, offers hope in her search for self-fulfillment (91). The lack of formality under the proprietor, Rochester, allows her candor to be expressed without consciousness of restraint. The “splendid Midsummer [with] skies so pure, suns so radiant” reflects the contentment she feels at Thornfield Hall as an equal with Rochester (234). She is shaken from her complacency, however, with the discovery of his first wife, who is plagued with insanity. As the madness of Rochester’s wife slowly spreads its influence over Thornfield, so too the “black clouds were casting up over [the sea and] the moon was setting in the waves, broad and red, like a hot cannon-ball” (293). Jane decides to leave because “the more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained [she is], the more [she] will respect [herself]” (302). In search of a happiness that does not transgress the laws of God, she departs from Thornfield with the rising of the sun, symbolic of another life she must move on from.
After leaving Thornfield, Jane’s transitory dwelling is Whitcross, a stone pillar where four roads meet. This crossroads represents Jane’s aimlessness and uncertainty of where her life might lead her, as well as the vulnerability of her situation; she realizes that until this point she has been financially dependent of others. Moor House, where her three cousins live and where she takes up residency, is a humble abode “very plainly furnished, yet comfortable” (328). Its modesty contrasts with the grandeur of Thornfield, but Jane is able to “comprehend the feeling, and share both its strength and truth. [There were] so many pure and sweet sources of pleasure” (334). She develops an intimacy with Moor House, its inhabitants as well as its pastoral land. Jane’s last residency is in the manor-house of Ferndean, where “so thick and dark grew the timber of the gloomy wood about it” (411). The manor-house, where she cares for a handicapped Rochester, is secluded within “a heavy frame of the forest” (412). This final dwelling reflects the closure of her journey, the permanence she has been searching for since her departure from Gateshead.
Jane Eyre’s constant movement reflects her inner struggle to preserve personal integrity in her search for a self-fulfilling happiness. Her mobility finally leads her to a marriage with Rochester in a heavily secluded manor-house. It is here that she at last discovers “what it is to live entirely for and with what [she] love[s] best on earth” (431). She has found her happiness in being with Rochester, and it is with this conviction that her journey in search of permanence ends with the closing of the forest’s iron gates.
Gender Question in Bronte’s Novel
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre features the eponymous woman reflecting on her childhood and adolescence through the mature view of a young adult. Adding another dimension to her character, however, is the fact that Jane’s own thoughts and feelings about life are not congruent with the gender expectations of her time period. Gender roles in Victorian society are shown as one sees them even in today’s society: by way of lifestyle options and by interpersonal relationships. In a society so rigidly ranked by sex, Jane’s perspective as an independent-thinking young woman serves as Brontë’s protest of this system.
In Brontë’s contemporary society, most women were bound to the household; Jane notes the injustice of this expectation. For example, Blanche Ingram and Jane’s cousin Georgiana Reed, both wealthy women, spend their lives preoccupied with finding a husband just as or more well-endowed. Once they achieve this end, they are doomed to a life of, as Jane complains, “making puddings and knitting stockings, […] playing on the piano and embroidering bags,” (104) and sitting silently as their husbands discuss far livelier topics, like politics, as seen at Mr Rochester’s dinner parties. Jane contests this double standard; in a loaded paragraph in the beginning of chapter 12, she insists that women “feel as men feel,” and should have just as much liberty to pursue their interests and use their talents. Throughout the novel, Jane feels trapped by numerous social institutions, and the expectations she lists embody the ways in which gender roles forge such a cage for her.
From an incredibly young age, Jane herself, like many others of her time, had a subordinate role imposed upon her on the basis of her girlhood. In her first years, her cousin John Reed ceaselessly belittled her; then, at her first meeting with Mr Brocklehurst, he remarks that there is “no sight as sad as that of a naughty child, especially a naughty little girl.” (31) In saying this, Mr Brocklehurst shows his bias against girls and women, and, because he serves as a representation of organized religion, therefore that bias in the Church. Mr Brocklehurst’s misguided intentions for the girls at Lowood further show this institutionalized disregard for girls and women in the world of religion. Girls at Lowood are forced into levels of modesty otherwise practically unseen outside of nunneries, wearing shapeless, covering clothing, and even having their hair cut off if it is deemed distracting or even lewd.
Jane’s cousin St. John, also a man of faith, shows another side to misogyny in the era. He holds a closer relationship to the women in his life than Mr Brocklehurst does, living with his sisters and bringing Jane into the family when she appears in a time of need. Furthermore, the people of the household work together with each attending to their equal, if differing, tasks. However, a hidden bias remains. When Jane refuses to marry him, St. John turns against her, resorting to the personal attack that her words are “violent, unfeminine, and untrue.” The mere fact that St. John should think himself enough of an authority over Jane to force her to marry him lends him his purpose as a misogynist character; indeed, this experience is Jane’s second experience with a coerced marriage, and by far the more forced of the two. Furthermore, St. John’s resort to an attack on Jane’s femininity shows that a not insignificant part of his momentary resentment of Jane is based in misogyny.
Even Jane’s love, Mr Rochester, at times degrades her on the basis of her womanhood. At their first meeting, he talks down to her, knowing nothing about her other than that she is a woman and a governess. Moreover, Mr Rochester and Jane are, from the beginning of their relationship, unevenly situated in society, and their interactions reflect this inequality. Mr Rochester consistently overlooks Jane’s perspective and desires – for example, when he insists on giving Jane jewels despite her opposition to the concept. Furthermore, he approves of Mr Brocklehurst’s methods of running Lowood Institute, showing that he is by no means unspoiled by the institutionalized gender expectations of the era. Jane is also far more open and honest with Mr Rochester than vice versa. He compels her to tell him all her feelings, and she complies, but he does not reciprocate; rather, he expresses his emotions convolutedly and incrementally, up until the point when he suddenly proposes to her. He lies to her about planning to marry Blanche even after wooing Jane, in an attempt to make her jealous. Instead of directly confronting Blanche and Jane about his feelings, he creates a complex scheme in which he presents himself as a fortune teller in order to disguisedly tell Blanche the unlikelihood of their marriage. The fact that he reveals his identity to Jane shows a level of trust between the two; however, if Mr Rochester’s relationship with Blanche is representative of the norm for forced marriages of the Victorian era — and if his relationship with Jane is radically equal for the era — then these relationships provide a way for Brontë to protest the contemporary culture of unequal arranged marriages.
However, Jane herself is not a total revolutionary. Through watchful instruction from her teachers during her teenage years at Lowood Institute, she learns to be less openly oppositional to the status quo. In this way, she matures from an indignant child lashing out at her bullying aunt and cousin into an outwardly complacent governess and teacher. And of course, at the end of the novel, she does marry Mr Rochester, in keeping with the contemporary expectation of women to achieve domesticity and to strive to marry above themselves. She still, nevertheless, retains her independent spirit, and is by no means untroubled by the expectations placed upon her based on her womanhood. While most women in Jane’s position would marry Mr Rochester eagerly, Jane is hesitant to do so, feeling that a marriage with a relationship such as theirs would infringe upon her own personal liberties. As she tells the “fortune teller,” she has the ability to be independent, and “[needs] not sell [her] soul to buy bliss.”(191) Indeed, Jane refuses to compromise her own values and desires with the expectations placed upon her. And while she does indeed marry Mr Rochester, this is done only when they are at relatively equal statuses. Jane complains to Mr Rochester about the confines of gender roles before he proposes to her. He not only approves of her thoughts on the matter, then, but also continues to refer to her as an equal after his proposal.
Jane Eyre does not completely reject or embrace Victorian gender roles; rather, she finds a life with which she is comfortable, which happens to fall between the two. She does not allow herself to be forced into a position because of her gender, but she also does not refuse to perform activities simply on account of them fulfilling stereotypes.This attitude, though, serves as a critique of society which was relatively radical for Brontë’s time. Jane is practically alone in resisting gender expectations, but her ideas provide a powerful opposition to the status quo which opened the eyes of many to the injustice of Victorian gender roles.
Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte: Resolving The Issue Of Equality And Women’S Role In Society Through Freud’S Psychoanalytic Theory, Feminist Theory And Marxist Classism
Jane Eyre is a praised contentious feminist novel but yet it does nothing more than reinforce male regime over women’s attempts at patriarchal roles. Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre, published in 1847, details the life of the Victorian society; revolving around many events that paralleled her own life. Bronte uses her characters to criticize the various forms of social hierarchy within her society through the characters in this novel. Tyson (2006) writes: “For some Marxists, realism is the best form for Marxist purposes because it clearly and accurately represents the real world, with all its socioeconomic inequalities and ideological contradictions, and encourages readers to see the unhappy truths about material/historical reality. Thus, Jane Eyre portrayals of the Victorian upper class, attempts to dismantle the capitalist, religious and sexist and patriarchal ideologies through critical theory prevalent in that time period in order to empower her readers. Bronte takes readers deep into her memories and experiences. Even when she writes, “Gentle reader, you may never feel what I then felt!” readers think otherwise. Her “stormy, scalding, heart wrung tears” seemed real, her “agonsised prayers” justly accounted, her “dread” distinct and comprehensible.
Bronte shaped Lowood Institution after her own boarding school, Cowan Bridge where she and her sisters endured harsh living conditions. The plot itself contains many elements to capture and maintain the reader’s attention; an abused orphan who rebels strongly against her dictators, blaring screams in the attic and a burning bed, erotic temptation and moral success, a marriage stopped at an altar, and the reformation of a good man gone wrong. Having said this, the novel is not dependant entirely on a vigorous plot, but relies on the depth of characters. Jane Eyre is an intriguing character that is boldly reluctant to accept others’ interpretations of her as an unattractive, dependent relation and she alleges herself against those who treat her crudely. Jane is a character that fights for appropriate values and morals through her society. Because of this, her sensual responses are considered character flaws throughout her society, but the reader is positioned to see that her rebelliousness is appropriate in the Victorian era. Psychoanalysis in literature deals with the unconscious instinctual tendencies of both writers and their characters, the recognition of the suppressed desires, the dreams, and the uncanny relating to them. Throughout Jane Eyre, there is a strong emphasis on the meaning of dreams. Psychoanalytic theory proclaims that it is in dreams that a person’s subconscious desires are revealed. What a person cannot express or do because of social rules are then expressed and accomplished in dreams, where, furthermore, there are no social rules. An example is when Jane first dreamt of Rochester, in which Jane was “burdened with the charge of a little child: a very small creature, too young and feeble to walk”. According to Bessie, “to dream of children was a sure sign of trouble, either one’s self or one’s kin”. In this sense, Jane’s dreams reflect her reality while simultaneously represents the passion for Rochester that Jane suppressed due to the social rules surrounding their relationship. According to Selden, Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism began with Sigmund Freud’s representation that: “The relationship between author and text was analogous to dreamers and their ‘text’. . . A representation of the relationship between the personal and the collective unconscious, the images, myths, symbols, ‘archetypes’ of past cultures…”. An example of this is Bronte narrating her own life events vicariously through her character Jane’s experiences. Readers are able to be part of Bronte’s journey as her life unfolds because of the challenging socio-economic influences, conscious thoughts, and unconscious desires contributing to her character development.
Sigmund Freud’s development of psychoanalytic theory has inspired major influences on literary criticism in a wide variety of ways. An precedent of this can be seen through the relationship between the writer and text. Thus this approach focuses on Bronte’s own experiences such as, her lack of a mother, her time she spent at Cowan Bridge School and her supposed isolation and ignorance of sexual love. However, Bronte’s most profound innovation, nonetheless, is the division of the Victorian female psyche into its intense element of mind and body, which she then externalizes as two characters; Helen Burns and Bertha Mason. Helen and Bertha both operate at realistic stages in the novel and present implied and explicit connections to Victorian sexual ideology. Both characters also function as an archetypal dimension within the story. Bronte gives readers three discourses of Jane; heroine’s psychic dilemma by destroying the two polar personations literally and metaphorically, to make way for the full development of the central consciousness, and for the integration of the spirit and body.
Jane Eyre is a novel that depicts Jane’s rebellious search for her personal identity of self and society, and of changing gender expectations. But this search for her true self also contributes to the burdensome investigations of the psyche and interpretation of dreams. According to Freud, anxieties and inhibited desires are inherent feelings to human beings. Such wishes are intensely repressed in everyday life, although, are acted upon in dreams. The childhood aspiration of admiration to one’s same gendered parent is what Freud called the “Oedipal Complex” refers to this behaviour, naming it as an implication to Oedipus, the Greek tragic hero who unknowingly killed his father and married his mother. In Jane Eyre, the father figure is epitomized by Mr. Rochester, an alternative for the missing father in Jane’s life and family structure. Rochester’s patriarchal power is extensively expressed throughout the novel, thus contributing to the Oedipal dynamic in Jane Eyre. Currer Bell was the pseudonym name of Charlotte Bronte. Writing under a pseudonym name was common among both female and male writers, although seen specifically useful for women being able to have ownership of the various different social positions and privileges one could assume as a writer. That, in turn, entailed freedom to writers who could create disparate types of texts. To understand Jane Eyre’s role as a feminist must be thoroughly clearly defined.
Feminism has been evolved as a prominent and controversial topic in writing for over two centuries, articulating the view that in the “19th century meaning that women were inherently equal to men and deserved equal rights and opportunities”. Multitudinous of women throughout time have stood progressively towards the recognition of women’s contribution to cultural roles, achievements and social and political rights. And yet, even in texts that are considered feminist, from an author who is considered to be a voice for female equality; that males always enjoy the privilege of having the power to control a woman’s life. However, Bronte depicted strong and clear examples of feminist ideals through Jane’s personality, actions, thoughts and beliefs. Jane’s strong personality and her continuous lack of respect towards social expectations were apparent. Jane’s second courageous feminist act is leaving Rochester when she learns disturbing facts about Rochester’s life. By doing so, she is expressing an approach of herself through Victorian life; being symbolized as Rochester’s second wife and her strong will that allows her to break her love relationship with Rochester. Therefore, this shows that Jane has the utmost strength to overcome all kinds of emotional barricades which a traditional women holds. Furthermore, Jane maintains dignity by refusing to give in to her physical and emotional desires that would of which be seen as uncultivated by society.
Throughout Jane Eyre, Jane conducts many tasks of which women of her time did not accomplish because they were not permitted to participate in the first place. Jane started reading and writing as a little girl. Providing her with an uncommon female skill that she used to compete against males. Jane is a character that is in complete control of her life and destiny, whereas most women were entirely dependent on their husbands for financial and physical support because they were property belonging to men. “Women of the Victorian era were not part of a man’s world, as they were considered below them”. Having said this, fundamental assumptions create inauthenticity. Simone De Beauvoir states that “The second sex shows how these fundamental assumptions dominate social, political, and cultural life and how women internalized this ideology, so that they live in a constant state of inauthenticity”. The clear fundamental cultural assumptions of the era created authenticities which are embodied through Jane as she lives through the struggle every woman of the time was familiar with.
Bronte depicts women writing about the meaning of a ‘home’ and the divided position of the woman as author of her own story and as inhabitant within the home she has built. Being the writer of one’s own story implies that the control over designing the plot and each of the characters belongs solely to the author. However since women are not the authors of their own stories, Bronte`s authorship using her own experiences highlights the problematic traditional female roles that women encounter in the Victorian era. Although some may question how Bronte can maintain the truth when she has Jane stepping outside of her expected gender role. She is thus faced with the anxiety of authorship and the principle responsibilities of domesticity that are at once upheld and subverted through the process of storytelling through writing. Bronte writes about the home, reflecting the universal, inherent need to establish a suitable ‘home’, while questioning the fundamental ideals upon which the concept of ‘home’ is founded. Jane does not follow the fundamental ideals of a `home` however, throughout the course of the novel Jane in fact searches for a place that she can call home. Throughout Jane`s life, ever since she was a child, she never knew the feeling of a `home`; jane was seen as the quest of an orphan girl for a `home` and in the end, finds a place of belonging; her family and a `home`.
This unusual and ambivalent attitude towards home, expressed by female first-person narrators who grapple with the task of telling their own story in a society of selfless women, is further complicated by their orphaned condition: “Writing the first person narrative becomes for these female protagonists, a means of questioning the order of their lives and then a way of reordering it. . . . Often it becomes an act of recuperation and reconciliation. . . ” of which Jane achieves. Feminism is an integral involvement through Jane Eyre. However, it exemplifies how a phallocentric system governs “Western Metaphysics” across cultural norms, language and politics. Jacques Derrida states that “language is structured as an endless deferral of meaning… There is no transcendental signified that is meaningful in itself and thus escapes the ceaseless play of linguistic deferral and difference”. Furthermore, western culture has embedded “the importance of language in establishing, maintaining, and reflecting an asymmetrical relationship between men and women” and, continuing to effectively stretch the issue as it uses neutral defences. Although, masculine connotations encourage positive emotions and negative emotions being evoked through feminine implication. Although Jane’s strength and independence surrounding women’s rights grows, it is clear that to some degree, a Phallocentric society which “denotes the assumption that maleness is the natural, and… The only source of authority and power” and therefore reinforces the idea that men rightly hold all of the absolute power over the guideline of life. In Jane Eyre several different gender based binary oppositions can be found. The way that binaries operate is that they must constantly be in opposition with one another. Reasonable and mad, nature and nurture, black and white: one draws significance from the other. Binary oppositions and the definition of fe/male characteristics and behaviour are involved throughout the novel and are convoluted by an arbitrary process. These binaries have also been compared to the idea of the Byronic Hero as a male ideal. Through this, a relevant account of the hitherto theory concerning Jane Eyre’s transgression of the binary oppositions of fe/male and behaviour are achieved. However, there is always a risk that the subjects will not be covered in a satisfactory way. The Byronic Hero in the comparison of female/male roles is that the figure is often referred to in terms of the behaviour model “of avant-garde young men” and that he “gave focus to the yearnings of emancipated young women”. Thus presenting a seemingly accepted ‘male ideal’ to the feminist texts in order to achieve a more historically accurate representation of expected gender roles that members of society adhered to.
In the Norton Anthology of English Literature the Byronic Hero is defined as an: “alien, mysterious, and gloomy spirit, superior in his passions and powers to the common run of humanity, whom he regards with disdain. . . He is in his isolation absolutely self-reliant, pursuing his own ends according to his self-generated moral code against any opposition, human or supernatural. And he exerts an attraction on other characters that is the more compelling because it involves their terror at his obliviousness to ordinary human concerns and values…”. Mr Rochester refers to Jane as his “little English girl”, which suggest that he sees Jane as an inferior. However Jane doesn’t allow Mr Rochester to treat her as a servant or slave, she talks back and speaks her mind regardless if she offends him. Nonetheless, Jane breaks the traditional behaviour one as a women usually expresses and instead began making her own money and living on her own, as an independent woman; Jane becomes the master of her own life. This detailed definition gives an interpretation of how the Victorian era’s expected male roles in literature seemingly captured many of the Rochester’s characteristics.
Another binary opposition that will be discussed both literally and metaphorically are master/servant. In Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, the reader is discerned that women can be found in positions of obedience “For she has been thought to accept masculine authority”. Beauvoir also describes women as servants in the way that they are products of the previously mentioned patriarchal structure. This highlights how men are perceived as the domination gender and women in charge of traditional chores in the household. This shows how the role of women are more the one of a servant than a master in comparison to men. The binary of master/servant is present from the very beginning of the novel and is exceedingly evident through power between John Reed and Jane. In the beginning of the novel when John Reed enters the room where he finds Jane reading behind a curtain, Jane asks “what do you want?” whereupon John Reed replies with an aggressive tone, “Say, what do you want Master Reed?”. This shows a strong inadequacy expressed from John Reed; he proclaims himself as the master yet he is only fourteen years old, however, portrays the possibility of a child acting as the master of the house. Thus John Reed is an example of how important gender is regarding power relations. After the death of John Reed’s father, Mr Reed; he acquired the patriarch role in the home.
Marxist ideology discerns ideologies and criticizes them, thus demystifying the ideological elements that create the social structure citizens are encouraged to follow. However, analysis of how a text advances class ideologies and viewpoints is a crucial part of Marxist criticism. Marxist Criticism is repeatedly evident throughout Jane Eyre and can be known as a cultural text that is identified through sources of social knowledge. Marx wrote of British realist novelists that their “eloquent and graphic portrayals of the world have revealed more political and social truths than all the professional politicians, publicists and moralists put together”. Furthermore, novels are more equipped and more efficient at documenting human behaviour and past events than newspapers or magazines owing to the novel’s providing a more in depth knowledge. The class division between Victorian men and women were very distinctive. Men increasingly commuted to their placement of work; the factory, shop or office. Whilst men were doing the ‘hard work’, wives, daughters and sisters were left at home for majority of the day to oversee the domestic duties that were carried out by servants. Jane however ignored her social standing because the protagonist she is, she fought for her rights in a time where they believed that she, as a governess and a woman, did not deserve any. Regardless, Jane disobeyed society’s idea of a perfect woman to gain respect as a human. Jane being the persistent woman she is, stood for equality. However the Victorian era, Jane was regarded as very liberal which caused more discrimination on her behalf.
An example of this can be depicted when Jane first met Rochester the scene presented a feminist portrayal of Jane. Jane went out of her way to assist Rochester stating that “if you are hurt, I can help”. However, a women walking alone in that era should never address a man. This shows her perseverance in being independent beliefs that women should be of equal to men`. As a child, jane always resented those in power therefore one would assume that she would then resent this man`s gruff contempt when she offers to help; however, as mentioned above, she stays to help him. This clearly illustrates her growth as a character. Whilst, most women would not have the audacity to help this man.
The act of being ‘feminine’ creates stereotypes and misrepresents the realities of women’s lives and of social change, thus sustaining patriarchal images and values. This can be supported by Juliet Mitchell argument that “gender is socially constructed, and. . . there are other ways of constructing human subjectivity…”. Class differences can cause an abundant amount of problems. An example of this is the love between Jane and Rochester. In order for Jane to make people recognize and respect her personal qualities, she must break through class prejudices. Furthermore, Bronte tries to illustrate how personal virtues are better indicators character than class.
Critical Examination of Religion in Jane Eyre
During the Victorian Era, the status of religion was one of the most pressing social and moral issues. Though Charlotte Bronte grew up in a religious household, she, like many other authors, criticized certain aspects of religion even though, like the protagonist of her novel Jane Eyre, she principally remained a religious, spiritual person throughout her life. Throughout Jane Eyre, Bronte successfully conveys to the readers her religious beliefs, as well as criticisms of some of the injustices and frauds she perceived within the church.
In her novel, Bronte uses the subtlety of characterization to heighten and emphasize her dissatisfaction with the Church of England. One of Jane’s earliest encounters with religious hypocrites is her meeting with Mr. Brocklehurst, the wealthy and influential owner of Lowood. He insists that “humility is a Christian grace”, yet he and his family members are adorned luxuriously and fashionably, “splendidly attired in velvet, silk, and furs”. Upon closer inspection of this particular passage, we can see that it is precisely Bronte’s use of subtlety, the innocent yet questioning observations of Jane, that wholly bring to light Bronte’s dissatisfaction with such men. Meanwhile, Brocklehurst’s tirade upon the children further serves a critical purpose: Bronte portrays just how evil and ugly his doctrines are — used to subject, control and manipulate. Furthermore, the notions of hell and punishment, which Brocklehurst uses to intimidate Jane, show just how confusing and frustrating these two sides of religion can be: the optimistic concepts of love and forgiveness versus the notions of hell and damnation.
Although Jane’s life hitherto has not yet presented her with much love or forgiveness, it is during her time at the poverty-stricken Lowood that she initially encounters sincere examples of good, Christian values in the characters of Helen Burns and Miss Temple, the latter of whom is described as “full of goodness” by her students. In Helen, Jane discovers a side to religion she has never encountered before, one that fills her with hope and affection. Yet despite Helen’s gentle and passive doctrine of “turning the other cheek,” Jane is still unable to accept her belief entirely, insisting that she “must dislike those who whatever I [Jane] do to please them, persist in disliking me…resist those who punish me unjustly”. Jane’s may not seem very Christian-like; however, Bronte uses Jane’s beliefs to bring out her strong will and desire to follow her own belief system — to develop Jane’s willful character. It is then obvious that Helen and her doctrine serve as foils to Jane and hers, as Jane attempts to disconnect herself from the liabilities she perceives within Christianity. Once she has found herself and her confidence, she is able to grasp and accept her own beliefs, refusing to adjust herself to the rampant mentality and notions of the Church.
After maturing into a young woman and discovering herself through the many challenges placed in her path, Jane encounters St. John Rivers, who is perhaps one of the most disciplined Christians in the novel. His absolute and indisputable views on religion make him an interesting character. Jane notes that he is extremely active both in clergy and in missionary work, yet despite his tremendous efforts, he is described as a cold man, one who “has not yet found the peace of God.” Despite his vast determination in charity work, nor has he experienced that “mental serenity, that inward content, which should be the reward of every sincere Christian”. In other words, he is a man incapable of loving. Bronte uses this character to paint a much different picture of the effects that religion can have on men — Brocklehurst simply considers his duties to the Church imperative, and he rarely seems to pause and enjoy life and love. It is precisely for this reason that Jane refuses to marry him, acknowledging the fact that while St. John may be content with the reward of Heaven, she knows she is determined to find her heaven on Earth.
Finally, it is crucial to examine Jane herself, and the beliefs that she has come to accept and live by. All the characters she has met in her life have shaped her into who she is in the present, and, since this is a novel motivated by Bronte’s own psychology, we can expect Bronte to have had similar views to those of Jane. Primarily, Jane refuses to view and use religion as a means of intimidation; instead, she chooses to condemn such ideas and focus on love instead. Bronte’s clever characterization has successfully gotten her point across: through the many different characters in her novel, she is able to criticize any form of religion that does not stress forgiveness and love.