Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte focuses primarily on love, specifically romantic love and it is the way in which Charlotte Bronte challenges 19th century socio-cultural views on gender and romance, as well as other discourses within the novel such as class and status that makes Jane Eyre successful.
The main discourse within Jane Eyre that impacts most greatly upon its feature, romantic love, is the societal classes of the time. This upper and lower class structure becomes evidently the basis of the novel Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre's relationship with Mr. Rochester, her employee and master, is deemed inappropriate by high society as it crosses class boundaries. Even without her relationship with Mr. Rochester, the members of high society boarding at Thornfield frown upon Jane's presence as a Governess. Mrs. and Miss Ingram state quite bluntly on Governesses that " half of them (are) detestable and the rest ridiculous" and proceed to explain that they have " suffered a martyrdom from their incompetence and caprice" (200) before Jane's presence. This shows that Jane's lower class was disliked and little respected by high society. This is also an indication of the second major discourse within the text, status and class. The relationship of Jane and Mr. Rochester portrayed within the text went against the social norm as, unlike most marriages, their marriage was purely for love. Women in the 19th century most often entered a marriage for financial benefit or for the purpose of bearing child. This aspect of high society didn't even enter into Jane and Mr. Rochester's relationship. It is the way in which Jane and Mr. Rochester's defy socio-cultural expect...
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...der. Compliance with convention or defiance with it is the key to the resulting successful story of Jane Eyre and this is the reason for the scandalous success of the book when it was released in 1847. Though it's ultimate success was the amazing way in which the book itself defied social boundaries describing gender as equal and love as an ultimate force that triumphs against all.
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Ed. Michael Mason. London: Penguin, 1996.
Lodge, Scott. "Fire and Eyre: Charlotte Bronte's War of Earthly Elements." The Brontes: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Ian Gregor. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1970. 110-36.
Peters, Joan D. "Finding a Voice: Towards a Woman's Discourse in Dialogue in the Narration of Jane Eyre." Studies in the Novel. 23 no 2. (1991): 217-36.
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