Analyse the methods Charlotte Brontë uses to make the reader empathise with Jane Eyre in the opening chapters. Reflect on how the novel portrays Victorian ideology and relate your analysis to the novel’s literary content.
Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Brontë, was published in 1847 by Smith, Elder & Company, in London. This year is exactly ten years into Queen Victoria’s sixty-four year reign of the British Empire. The Victorian Era was renowned for its patriarchal Society and definition by class. These two things provide vital background to the novel, as Jane suffers from both. Jane Eyre relates in some ways to Brontë’s own life, as its original title suggest, “Jane Eyre: An Autobiography”. Charlotte Brontë would have suffered from too, as a relatively poor woman. She would have been treated lowly within the community. In fact, the book itself was published under a pseudonym of Currer Bell, the initials taken from Brontë’s own name, due to the fact that a book published by a woman was seen as inferior, as they were deemed intellectually substandard to men. Emily Brontë, Charlotte’s sister, was also forced to publish her most famous novel, Wuthering Heights, under the nom de plume of Ellis Bell, again taking the initials of her name to form her own alias. The novel is a political touchstone to illustrate the period in which it was written, and also acts as a critique of the Victorian patriarchal society.
Jane Eyre is narrated in the first person by Jane herself, looking back at the past retelling her story. Jane is clearly an intelligent person if can remember such specific details of her childhood, looking back thirty years or so later with such reflectiveness.
Throughout the first two chapters of “Jane E...
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... than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep.” They also tell her that “to strike a young gentleman, your benefactress's son! Your young master.” The servants respect the Victorian patriarchal society, despite the fact that they are so badly treated through it. Brontë is trying to tell us that this system has been in form for so long, that people are thinking of it as natural, and insists that it should not be so. In Brontë’s opinion, everyone should have equality.
This novel was one of the most radical books of the Victorian Era. It portrayed women as equals to men. It showed that it was possible that men could even be worse than women, through John and Jane. It taught the Victorians never to judge a book by its cover. The novel would not be as successful were it not for Charlotte Brontë’s talent in writing, and were it not for the literary devices employed.
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