Oppression, Suffering, and Poverty of Men in Jane Eyre

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The novel Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, depicts the coming of age of a woman who encounters great hardships, obstacles, and heartbreak. During the Victorian era women were subordinate to men and often times lacked the same opportunities and privileges that society and the family structure gave to men. Although society and the family structure of the Victorian era treated men and women differently, men were also oppressed, experienced suffering, and had to overcome poverty, but due to the masculinity that men were forced to portray during the era often times the hardships of men have been overlooked when analyzing the men in Jane Eyre. The characters John Reed, St. John Rivers, and Edward Rochester suffer various forms of lack and poverty that contributes to their oppressive and suffering nature precipitated by societal and family structure as well as being impoverished by their circumstances throughout the story even though they come across as having wealth and power.

John Reed becomes greatly oppressed and suffers, due to societies expectations and the Victorian family structure. In the beginning of the book John Reed is portrayed as a young pompous tyrant who has the sense that when he comes of age he will have everything of the Reed fortune. When explaining to Jane her position in the Reed house John says, “…they are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years”(Brontë). Because the social and family power structure during the Victorian era maintains that the eldest boy, or in this case the only boy, inherit the families belongings John Reed is led into suffering, poverty, and ultimately death. Without the guidance of a father John Reed is raised as a “‘Wicked and cruel boy...like a murderer…like a slave dr...

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...nd the re-union of Mr. Rochester and Jane Mr. Rochester can finally be in the relationship he always desired, but at the cost of his hand and eyesight; adding even more to his suffering, but at least now he has his true love to be by his side.

Throughout Jane Eyre the three male characters: John Reed, St. John Rivers, and Edward Rochester endure suffering caused from society and the family power structures. Although males during the Victorian era, and especially these three men, were exhibited as having power and or wealth, they had a flaw that caused them to suffer in some shape or form. John Reed ultimately dying, St. John moves to India and essentially has a loveless and delusional attitude towards life, in addition Mr. Rochester and the new Mrs. Rochester are united and become equals.

Works Cited
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006.

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