Charlotte Bronte: The Social Critic Essay

Charlotte Bronte: The Social Critic Essay

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After being dormant for over two hundred years, Mount Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010, spreading ash across western and northern Europe. Thousands of tons of carbon dioxide clouded the skies, sporting and art competitions were cancelled, and air travel grounded to a halt. Tourists were left stranded at airports, in shock of the sudden eruption that had such a catastrophic effect on both Europe and the rest of the world. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre had a similar effect upon the mindset of Victorian society, as its publication ended the silence on social justice and set off an ‘eruption’, leading to sweeping reforms. The novel revolves around the moral and spiritual journey of Jane Eyre, an orphan who values freedom and struggles to break free of Victorian-era standards. Brontë satirizes these standards through her portrayal of the lower classes, mental illness, and orphans.
Jane is critical of Victorian England society’s devaluation of people due to their social standing. After being refused hospitality at the Rivers’ residence by Hannah, the housekeeper, Jane chastises her class prejudices, “‘But I do think hardly of you,’ I said; ‘and I’ll tell you why – not so much because you refused to give me shelter, or regarded me as an impostor, as because you just now made it a species of reproach that I had no "brass", and no house. Some of the best people that ever lived have been as destitute as I am; and if you are a Christian, you ought not to consider poverty a crime’” (Brontë 343). Hannah embodies the typical classist attitudes of the Victorian Era. Despite Jane being on the brink of death, Hannah’s biases come in the way of her humanity. Through Jane’s characterization, Brontë fiercely attacks the social stigma attache...


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...Barnes & Noble, 2004. Print.
Eagleton, Terry. "Class Restrictions on Jane's Independence." Social Issues in Literature: Women's Search for Independence in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2011. 114-17. Print.
Iwama, Mia. "Bertha Mason's Madness in a Contemporary Context." The Victorian Web. N.p., 25 Mar. 2003. Web. 05 Mar. 2014. .
McMurtry, Jo. "Servants." Victorian Life and Victorian Fiction. Hamden: Archon, 1979. 166-69. Print.
Monks, Katherine E. "Middle Class and Orphan Schools as They Relate to Jane Eyre." The Victorian Web. N.p., 11 May 2010. Web. 07 Mar. 2014. .
Teachman, Debra. "Madness and Victorian Women: Diagnosis and Treatment." Understanding Jane Eyre. Westport: Greenwood, 2001. 111-47. Print.

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