Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte Essay

890 words - 4 pages

During the nineteenth century, one's social class determined every aspect of their lives. From determining one's occupation to whom one was to marry, society created boundaries that ensured that all people "stayed in their place." There are some who will rise and challenge society on their own personal pursuits of happiness; but considering the standards that society may have set for them, they are lodged in the midst of trial and tribulation. In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, eponymous character Jane Eyre faces a personal challenge against society as a result of her impoverished background. Jane's challenge against society develops her character throughout the novel, demonstrates the kind of impact societal standards has had on her as well as reveals ideas and philosophies that are suggested throughout the work.

The social conflict presented in Jane Eyre develops Jane's character and introduces a new approach to restrictive societal standards. During her years at Gateshead and Lowood, Jane's character resembles that of an exploring, prospective youth. Her expectation of being a "model Christian" has "cut her down to size" according with society's expectations for lower class people. She, nonetheless, still pursues her heart's personal desires. Jane's character of exploration and personal fulfillment manifests itself when she decides to leave her teaching post at the Lowood School for a career as a traveling governess in Chapter 11. Jane's social challenge not only develops her as a character, but also serves as a model of progress for people like Jane in nineteenth century society. The standards imposed on the lower classes during nineteenth century society restricted them to lives of destitute and servility. In the first volume of the work, Jane is stripped of her right to embrace her outspoken, multifarious person as she succumbs to the sanctimonious and austere "status quo" of nineteenth century women. Jane, however, shows that society's standards have caused her to further embrace her individuality. It is expected that because of her poor upbringing, Jane will not have the opportunity to pursue a life of happiness and personal fulfillment. Despite this restriction, Jane harnesses the opportunity to move on from her childhood and seek to improve her life throughout the work.

As societal standards may have restricted many underprivileged people, such as Jane, Bronte reveals ideas that challenge the status quo of nineteenth century society. The first idea presented in Bronte's work in regards to societal standards is to stand up for yourself and pursue your own desires, not the desires of society. This theme is evident in the first...

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