Essay on Women's Role in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Essay on Women's Role in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

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Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is set in the mid nineteenth century, during the Victorian era where class and gender roles are clearly defined in the patriarchal society. The general ideology of the era expresses the idea that if gender categories were not maintained as binary oppositions, catastrophic chaos would likely ensue (Gill, 109). Throughout the novel, Jane is faced with the issue of oppression. The typical characteristics of an ideal female in Victorian society would include submissiveness, simple dress, low ambition, longing for a male love interest and passiveness. Bronte clearly shows her stance on this Victorian ideology as Jane often challenges those social institutions and changes her place in society, although she often settles for the status quo for certain periods of time. Jane plays the typical role of a Victorian woman through much of her life, but through subtle shifts in power Bronte challenges these Victorian norms by way of Jane’s education, unlikely rise in social status from teacher to governess and her relationship with a seemingly unattainable man.
Jane’s education at Lowood provides a foundation for her rise through the ranks of society and alters the predetermined course of action for Victorian women. Consequently, Jane is raised among a class higher than her own with the Reeds’, and although they are family, they make sure Jane understands her social position is not on the same level. Ironically, Jane is afforded the ability to go to a private school at Lowood and receive an upper class education. “Gendered performances become acts that are increasingly tied to material wealth, and the text suggests that only the middle and upper classes can afford the costly performance of gender” (Godfrey,...


... middle of paper ...


... when the time was right to vault over the status quo and slide into a new societal role, while maintaining her values and her blended ideologies with Victorian society.









Works Cited

Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Ed. Richard Nemesvari. Toronto: Broadview, 1999.
Gill, L. (2007). The Princess in the Tower: Gender and Art in Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre" and Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott.". Victorians Institute Journal, 35109-136.

Godfrey, E. (2005) . Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 45, No. 4, The Nineteenth
Century (Autumn, 2005), pp. 853-871. Retrieved from
http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.ardc.talonline.ca/stable/3844618

Lydon, S. (2010). Abandoning and Re-inhabiting Domestic Space in Jane Eyre, Villette and Wide Sargasso Sea. Bronte Studies, 35(1), 23-29. doi:10.1179/174582209X12593346802982

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