Jane Eyre's Life

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“In what way is social class preventing Jane Eyre of living a life of equality and freedom, and how is this related to feminism?”

Jane Eyre lived in the time of the Victorian Era, which Queen Victoria reigned. The way of life of women in Victorian England has a great impact on how Jane was brought up. This is because of their system which “defined the role of a woman” and every woman had a customary routine for their respective class. If one were to take on the standards of another, it would be considered as a serious offense.

Jane was born to a family of petite bourgeois where her family was not in a state of poverty but neither of the upper middle class. A few years after birth, Jane’s parents died of typhus and she was left for her Aunt Reed to foster. Her Aunt Reed neglected her and disregarded her as her own blood because she was poor and ugly. Jane has been treated illegitimately against her will and was in constant rule by Mrs Reed’s family enabling Jane of sufferings of emotional and physical abuse. After a fight with one of her cousins, Mrs Reed holds Jane to blame and is locked away in a red-room where past events have painted the room looking “ghost-like” and fearful. In this room she longs to be freed and as she is, there are a few occurrences in the novel where the memory of being locked in that room reminds her of her still “un-freed” life and situation.

As Jane grew up into this household, she knew that there was a great contrast between herself and her two female cousins, Georgiana and Eliza. They were beautiful, granted schooling and Jane was not. Jane always hoped for these privileges, to possess beauty, attend school and to even be included in the group of Mrs Reed and her children when they would gather around and talk. When Jane is finally able to go to school, she receives another deal of cruel treatment. At the time of Jane and Mr Brocklehurst’s first meet, he has already in his mind, placed Jane into the lowest of the four distinct groups of the Victorian society – aristocrats, middle, upper and lower working class. He does this because of Jane’s frank and quick replies to him when questioned for example, “What must you do to avoid it?
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