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Jane Eyre and English Society of the Time

by sirieidris 0 reviews

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

Category: Jane Austen - Rating: G - Genres: Drama - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2021-04-27 - 681 words

Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre to show and sharply criticize the culture of Victorian England. The work of Bronte clearly reveals feminist views of the time. It refutes ignorance and denial of women's passion and sexual identity in English society during the Victorian age. In her novel, Charlotte Bronte shows that some women are contented with their position in society as their religion encourages them to be submissive. However, she also shows the courage of some women who desperately struggle to break the chains of captivity. In Jane Eyre, Bronte comments on the English society of the time, revealing and strongly criticizing the captivity and oppression women were subject to.

Jane Eyre lives in a society where women depend on men as they do not have financial resources to satisfy their own needs. Women are also denied the right to learn and receive higher education. Some of the female characters, for example, Adele and Georgina, are portrayed as traditionalists who accept their socially prescribed roles (Bronte, 2006). Instead of striving to improve their status in society, Adele and Georgina primarily focus on preserving their beauty. Bronte also shows that some women fail to oppose restrictive cultural norms. For instance, Helen Burns does not want to change her life, preferring to remain submissive and take refuge in religion. In contrast, Jane Eyre represents women who choose to resist the cultural norms and always strive to fulfill their dreams. The scene in the red room shows how Jane is subject to captivity. Mrs. Reed unjustly punishes and locks Jane in the red room to make her realize that women in Victorian England should show passivity, accept ignorance, and remain submissive to men. Mrs. Reed says that she will free Jane from the red room if she is submissive, but the girl refuses to obey her commands. Instead, she decides to resist oppression and vows to remain true to herself even if she has to suffer.

Jane appears to criticize the traditional ideals of women in English society of the time. She states Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel and they suffer precisely as men would suffer (Bronte, 2016, p. 112). Jane strongly opposes the cultural norms when girls and women are expected to be submissive to men. For her, any other occupation, apart from teaching children of rich people, is unacceptable. With time, more women start to realize that they have a lowly position in society and take action to change it, progressively moving towards attaining gender equality. Jane feels frustrated by the fact that women cannot fulfill their own needs and that they solely depend on men. She always works hard to be self-reliant while hoping that women and men will have equal rights and opportunities.

Jane Eyre opposes a restrictive society where girls and women receive little or no education. Despite the existing social conventions that prevent girls and women from receiving education, Jane is sent to school. The opportunity to study in Lowood school marks the beginning of her maturity and self-fulfillment. However, Jane's experience in school shows that at the time, women and girls were not expected to go to school. In school, she feels that society limits her and that she is exposed to various sorts of degradation. Jane's teacher, Mr. Rochester, notices that she lives like a nun (Bronte, 2006). Immediately after starting to study in school, an epidemic of typhus strikes, but the girl survives. In the end, she becomes a strong woman who has overcome many odds to fulfill her dreams.

In conclusion, in her book Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte shows English society that subjected women to captivity. At that time, women were regarded as inferior and subordinate to men. The book also shows that some women were capable of overcoming cultural limitations and becoming self-reliant. Although it was believed that women could hardly receive a higher education, Jane overcame all barriers and became an educated woman. In Jane Eyre, Bronte strongly criticizes the perception of women as naturally different from men.
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