Just as Gwendolen exhibits the flaws of Victorian women gender roles, so does Mr. Brocklehurst.
In contrast however, Wilde centers on seemingly positive female ideals of virtuousness. Wilde reveals the flaws in these standardized roles by demonstrating how women secretly go against these ideals, which can only have a detrimental outcome. Gwendolen exemplifies how women are portrayed when they merely pretend to abide by the idealized female role in society instead of attempting to challenge it honestly and publically. Gwendolen and thus stereotypical Victorian women are depicted as inauthentic, superficial, immoral, and most appallingly hypocritical. On the contrary, Bronte focuses on the negative connotations of women’s gender role through the depiction of a male character. For Bronte, Mr. Brocklehurst’s maltreatment of Jane and the girls at Lowood demonstrates the fundamental problem in the Victorian society; men dominate and govern society whilst women are rendered subservient and inferior in relation to men.
Bronte’s main character, Jane Eyre, conforms to this unequal power dynamic throughout most of the novel. Therefore, Jane is portrayed as the direct product of Victorian society. Throughout the novel, the men Jane encounters hold the power and inevitably mold and shape her throughout the novel into their idealized standard of a woman. Mr. Brocklehurst, Mr. Rochester, and St. John each project their own image of the perfect woman upon Jane and each of them attempt to shape her to their idealized standards. Jane is left in the end to discover herself whilst in her search to be reunited with the love of her life, Mr. Rochester. Jane’s relationship with Mr. Rochester however focuses far more on romantic notions and brings to light the power between genders.
As a workingwoman in the Victorian era, Jane would be expected to remain unmarried and furthermore marry into her own social class. This raises a problem in Jane’s relationship with Mr. Rochester because it presents an inequality in their companionship. Jane is aware of this imbalance, which is the reasoning behind her initial refusal of his proposal. Jane view of herself is revealed when Mr. Rochester proposes to her. Jane says she is “poor, obscure, plain, and little” (Eyre, 256). Jane’s vulnerability empowers Mr. Rochester to claim dominance over her. In a similar fashion to Mr. Brocklehurst and St. John, Rochester continually tries to force upon Jane his expectations of her. Seeing as he is financially independent, he continually attempts to adorn Jane with his riches. Although she frequently protests against this, Mr. Rochester is victorious in his attempt to label Jane as unavailable to other men. Mr. Rochester renders Jane his commodity or possession, which bares resemblance to Mr. Brocklehurst’s ownership over the girls at Lowood. Along with riches, Mr. Rochester has an ideal of what Jane’s character must be like. Jane must have a “clear eye and eloquent tongue, [a] soul made...