Jane Eyre and Feminism

Powerful Essays
Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre embraces many feminist views in opposition to the Victorian feminine ideal. Charlotte Bronte herself was among the first feminist writers of her time, and wrote this book in order to send the message of feminism to a Victorian-Age Society in which women were looked upon as inferior and repressed by the society in which they lived. This novel embodies the ideology of equality between a man and woman in marriage, as well as in society at large. As a feminist writer, Charlotte Bronte created this novel to support and spread the idea of an independent woman who works for herself, thinks for herself, and acts of her own accord.
Women of the Victorian era were repressed, and had little if any social stature. They had a very few rights and fewer options open to them for self-support. For most women the only way to live decently was to get married, and in many cases it was not up to the women to choose whom she married. It was almost unheard of for a woman to marry out of her social class (Cain 20). If a woman did not marry, the only ways she could make a living other than becoming a servant was either to become a prostitute or a governess. For the most part, a woman was not given the opportunity to go to school and earn a degree unless she was born into a high social class. The average Victorian woman was treated not as a person, but as an object or piece of property. She had very few rights either in society, or marriage (Cain, 25). Bronte, born into a middle class family, refused to be repressed by society. She recognized the injustices of her society, and in rebellion against society’s ideologies involving women, wrote Jane Eyre.
Bronte’s feminist ideas radiate throughout the novel. There are many strong and clear examples of these ideas in Bronte’s protagonist, Jane, her personality, actions, thoughts, and beliefs. From the beginning of the book, Jane’s strong personality is quite clear. She often gets in trouble, arguing with her cousins, and defying Bessie and Miss Abbot, as well as her aunt. She is not afraid to speak her mind and is dogmatic and assertive about her ideas. Some of the best examples of this characteristic can be found in the first few chapters of the book: after being blamed for provoking her cousin John, Mrs. Reed orders her to be locked in the “red room”. Jane “resisted all the way,” and “like any other ...

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...ighting for acknowledgement in a society dominated by males. She, unlike her aunt, is not afraid to stand up to John, and is not bossed around by him. She is constantly fighting with him. Bronte uses this difference between Jane and the other women characters to create the picture in her reader’s mind, that women who display the behaviors of the classical Victorian female are bad, and that the women who show independence and individuality are good.
Bronte’s Jane Eyre is brimming with feminist ideology rebuking Victorian-Era gender-roll ethics and ideals. As a creative, independent woman with a strong personality and will growing up during this period of female repression, Bronte wrote Jane Eyre as a feminist message to society. She criticizes the average, servile, ignorant Victorian woman, and praises a more assertive, independent, and strong one. She does this through her protagonist Jane, who embodies all of Bronte’s ideal feminine characteristics. She is a strong woman, both mentally and physically, who seeks independence and is in search of individuality, honesty, and above all equality both in marriage and in society in a world that does not acknowledge women as individuals.
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