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Radical Ideas in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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Radical Ideas in Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte knew what she was doing when she assumed the pseudonym of Currer Bell. In Jane Eyre she wanted to pose radical ideas regarding the role of women in the 19th century, but being a sensible woman, she knew that society would never accept having a woman pose these new views. It would be altogether too logical and self-praising. Though the author was never credited for the published novel it must have been equally fulfilling for her to know that people had read the opinions voiced by a woman. Bronte's novel was successful as her refreshing story captivated the attention, if only negative, of many audiences. Jane Eyre is the epitome of feminism as her main objective in life is to attain social equality. This woman is passionate, restless, and unusually bold as she dares to say things that women would never say.

Throughout the novel Jane displays outstanding courage and boldness which were uncommon traits in women of her time. We first see Jane's efforts to defend herself crushed by Mrs. Reed who says, "There is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner" (pg. 3). One would think that the life at Gateshead would have subdued Jane's fiery temper, but it only rooted it deeper within her spirit. Had Jane been treated kindly she might have grown up a sweet-tempered girl, always giving in to the demands of society and holding back from developing her hungry mind. Jane also stands up to the bully, John Reed: "Wicked and cruel boy!...You are like a murderer, you are like a slave driver&emdash;You are like the Roman emperors!" (pg. 8). Jane is a brave character as she dares to step out of the acceptable realm of society when ...

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...e glass ceiling. Jane's story, was not the real world that Charlotte Bronte lived in, but it brought women one step closer to social equality.

Sources Consulted

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Penguin, 1985.

Gordon, Lyndall. Charlotte Bronte: A Passionate Life. New York: Norton, 1994.

Michie, Helena. The Flesh Made Word: Female Figures and Women's Bodies. New York: Oxford UP, 1987.

Poovey, Mary. "Speaking of the Body: Mid-Victorian Constructions of Female Desire." Jacobus, Keller, and Shuttleworth 24-46.

Rich, Adrienne. "Jane Eyre: The Temptations of a Motherless Woman." Gates 142-55.

Roy, Parama. "Unaccommodated Woman and the Poetics of Property in Jane Eyre." Studies in English Literature 29 (1989): 713-27.

Sullivan, Sheila. Studying the Brontes. Longman: York, 1986.
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