The Ideal Victorian Woman: "Jane Eyre" By Charlotte Bronte

979 words - 4 pages

The Ideal Victorian WomanCharlotte Bronte uses her novel, "Jane Eyre", to satirize the classist society of the Victorian era. Bronte expresses the repression of 19th century Victorian woman through the figurative and literal confinement of female characters. She primarily shows this through the main character,r Jane Eyre and her dealing with and going through life. Bronte also displays this theme with secondary characters Jane meets like, Helen Burns, Mrs. Temple, Bertha Rochester, Grace Poole, Blanche Ingram, and Celine Varens.The novel opens at Gateshead mansion where Jane is a young ward. She is commonly mistreated by the widow owner, Mrs. Reed and is not considered equa;l although, she is related to Mrs. Reed by marriage (Brontë, 1-3). Jane is constantly tormented by Mrs. Reed's son John (4). When she finally defends herself, Jane is punished and locked up in the hell-like "red-room (5)." Jane is figuratively confined from being an independent person by Mrs. Reed because it was "unacceptable" behavior.After Jane leaves Gateshead she attends a strict boarding school, Lowood (34). Lowood is a school for orphan girls and is operated by rigid Mr. Brocklehurst. Mr. Brocklehurst keeps all the girls in the school very contained and gives them virtually no rights and sets standards that allow for no individuality. The school is a small representative for the women in Victorian society. Jane befriends Helen Burns who is very similar but at the same time the opposite of her (42). Helen is submissive when being punished and does not get embarrassed by it, while Jane tries to avoid being punished all together (Anderson). Helen continues to do what she is not suppose to do, like being unorganized which is not "fit" for a female student. Perhaps this is why Helen dies at such a young age of a disease she could not fight (Brontë, 74). Mrs. Temple, a teacher at Lowood, fell into the stereotypical role of a Victorian woman by giving up her life and career for marriage (76).When Jane matures and finishes school, she becomes a governess at a mansion known as Thornfield (78). Edward Rochester is the owner of the mansion and the "boss" of Jane. The women at Thornfield are all treated as equals whether they are a governess, servant, or seamstress; they are never considered on Rochester and his visitors' level. Throughout Jane's stay at Thornfield, her and Rochester fall in love and eventually are engaged. When Jane learns Rochester has a secret wife, she immediately flees. Rochester tries to overpower her and convince her that the best idea is to stay. Rochester holding her back is a prime example of his superiority. At the end of the novel, the two reunite but, Rochester is blind and physically incapacitated. Jane finally marries him while he is handicapped perhaps that being their equalizer. So then, is a physically handicapped man equal to a normal woman in the Victorian era...

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