Role of Women in Jane Eyre Essay

Role of Women in Jane Eyre Essay

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Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre represents the role of women in the Victorian era by giving the reader an insight into the lives of women from all social classes. Jane Eyre therefore represents figures of the Victorian time yet the character of Jane Eyre, herself, can be seen as very unconventional for the Victorian society.

England, in the eighteenth century, was driven by class distinction and wealth. In the lower class there was always a desperate struggle to survive which contrasted to the life led by the upper class, socializing with people like themselves. The servant trade, made up by the lower class, allowed the upper class to live their desired life whilst constantly maintaining superiority based on their position in society.

Women, in all classes, were still living in a world which was misogynistic and male-dominated. Their purpose in life was to produce male heirs and maintain the home by hiring and overseeing servants. It was also taboo for one to marry significantly below one’s social class. This is one reason that Jane is not a conventional heroine for the society of her time. Although, as a governess, she is not considered to be as low as a housemaid, she is still part of the hired help in the house. This is why it is unconventional for her and Mr Rochester to be in a relationship. Yet this is not as peculiar as how Jane Eyre ends their relationship due to her sense of betrayal. It would have been considered extremely foolish for a working-woman’s sense of betrayal to end and turn down a man of great wealth.

Many women in this period would engage in “arranged” marriages which were widely accepted and indeed, one of the most practiced forms of marrying at this time. Usually a marriage of convenience rather...


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...rotagonist, Jane is presented in the role of a lower class woman. This is evident in the way that she must work to support herself. Mrs. Fairfax, the tenant at Thornfield Hall is presented in the role of a middle to upper class woman. Although she does not have a family of her own, which is uncharacteristic of middle class women in Victorian times, she has a well paid job and a wonderful house to live in. Charlotte Bronte has given the reader an insight into the role of upper class women through the character of Miss Ingram. She has no job, as her principle in life is to bear a child. Her days consist of social outings and reading or playing the piano. It is therefore evident that there was a great division between the social classes with women. The roles of women altered largely between classes, and Charlotte Bronte has focused on this significantly in her novel.

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