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Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

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Jane Eyre is a book written in 1847 by a woman named Charlotte Bronte. She had published the book under the name of Currer Bell to discourage any bad publicity, in Victorian times if a woman had written a book it wouldn’t be unusual if no one read it. In the book the main character relates to the writer in many ways the strongest relevance of all being they were non-believers in the stereotypical Victorian woman. I would say this book could have been the start of a revolution of how women thought & how they act. The book is about an articulate young Victorian woman who has radical ideas on the treatment & expectations of Victorian women.

In the time it was written women were expected to be submissive to men & men would treat women as objects, a prize if it be his wife. Charlotte Bronte suggests that this was wrong which was very peculiar, as a woman was not expected to her own views. In my essay I will be particularly looking at Jane’s character but also in little detail her friends & family. At Gateshead the weather is rainy & windy “ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long & lamenting blast” this is an example of pathetic fallacy which Charlotte Bronte uses to show Jane’s emotions.

Jane is feeling dull & dreary which is shown by the overcast day. John Reed bullies her & members of her new family do not accept Jane. John treats her as if she is vermin & looks down upon her, as Jane is not part of the family in his eyes. Jane is beaten by John Reed & because women had no say in anything John got away with it because he was male & therefore right. One day after continuous beating Jane retaliates as she realises she has been through the worst “my terror had passed it’s climax; other feelings succeeded.

This is the start of Jane’s strength she sees that the worst has happened & decides to fight back. Eliza & Georgiana know that john shouldn’t be treating Jane like he does but they don’t say anything from fear of john. Eliza & Georgiana are typical Victorian women & they kept themselves to themselves. A good Victorian woman would not seek out help over her own brother. When Jane reaches Lowood, Bronte uses pathetic fallacy again to indirectly show Jane’s mood.

The treatment of girls at Lowood was horrible to say the least. I saw each girl taste her food & try to swallow it; but in most cases the effort was soon relinquished” this highlights the terrible conditions endured by the girls at Lowood. Their uniform was brown & they wore frocks & pinafores. Jane had gone for a walk outside, when she heard 2 coughs & saw a girl reading a book. After she made acquaintance with this girl she found her name was Helen Burns. In the hall Helen is being told off for not cleaning her hands properly, when she replies with a perfectly good excuse, the water in the taps were frozen, the teacher, Mrs Scatchard did not accept & carried out the punishment.

Helen, a perfectly good Victorian woman fetched the beating tool & sufficed to the punishment, a good thing to do being a typical Victorian woman. Helen is the other main character showing the ideal Victorian woman she is completely submissive & obedient, Jane is the exact opposite. After Helens punishment Jane says, “when we are struck without reason, we should strike back again very hard. ” This shows Jane’s strength & willingness to fight the Victorian stereotyping.

Helen replies, “love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you & spitefully use you. This is exaggerating the views of the perfect Victorian woman. When Helen dies you get the feeling that Charlotte Bronte is trying to say the stereotypical woman isn’t necessarily the best path to follow. Jane is completely the opposite & yet she survives & lives a happy & full life. When Jane moves to Thornfield she seems to be the perfect match for Mr Rochester. Mr Rochester is the owner of Thornfield where Jane has come to work as governess, Mr Rochester is apparently single & is hard to get along with as he is articulate in his speech & sometimes hard to understand.

However Jane is also very well spoken & they appear to converse in their own language they seem to have formed before they met. Charlotte Bronte is showing Jane as Mr Rochester’s equal. This would be unheard of in that time, a woman, equal to a man. Certainly a woman as high up in the heirachy as Mr Rochester would be unheard of. When Jane rescues Mr Rochester from the fire the gender roles are reversed as Jane becomes the dominant heroin & Mr Rochester the distressed one.

A “perfect” Victorian woman would never have tried to save Mr Rochester the way Jane does. All through the scene Bronte uses active verbs to show Jane’s actions as being fast & in a way not thought through. She uses; rushed, heaved, baptised & quenched to give a sense of action. It shows Jane had not much time, as the fire was about to engulf Mr Rochester. When Jane extinguishes much of the fire she shouts at Mr Rochester to wake him up “GET UP! ” this command to Mr Rochester would be unheard of by any respecting Victorian woman.

Mr Rochester claims Jane is his equal “my equal at heart” after saving his life he says, “you have saved my life” which shows Jane’s strength & Mr Rochester is saying she is strong. Jane says “Mr Rochester I will not be yours. ” This shows Jane has emotional strength but I think it could be misinterpreted as being naive in the fact she does not think ahead or about the reasons he had for no telling her about Bertha Mason or Blanche Ingrim, neither of whom he loved. Blanche Ingrim was definitely not in love with Mr Rochester as he finds when he spreads a rumour about him not being as rich as he really is.

He soon realised Blanche was only interested in his money. Bertha Mason, Mr Rochester’s wife was dubbed mad, by him, in Victorian times that was a perfectly normal & acceptable thing to do, all a man had to do was say his wife was mad & she was. This shows the way men treated women in Charlotte Bronte’s time. After he tries to wed Jane he is showing Bertha to everyone & he says, “I must shut up my prize” also referring to the treatment of Victorian women, men saw their wives as trophies, the better looking the better the trophy.

It is different than today, this statement shows Mr Rochester owns his wife & sees her as a prize rather than a companion. After Mr Rochester clearly shows why he couldn’t tell Jane about Bertha she still leaves him which is supposed to show great emotional strength but I think it is a weakness. If Jane truly loved him it would use up more of her strength than to leave him because she would be forced endure his lies & accept them. However if she did love him then it would take great strength to leave him as love is a powerful force & breaking through it would show how strong she really is.

After leaving Mr Rochester Jane has nowhere to go. She soon finds a family willing to take her in, she leaves after finding one of the house is wanting to marry her & take her to some other country. Since she has inherited such a large sum of money from a relative she goes back to see Mr Rochester to find Thornfield has been burnt down by Bertha Mason & Mr Rochester has moved house. When Jane arrives at Ferndean Mr Rochester’s new home she becomes the superior partner because of Mr Rochester’s accident with the burning house. He is reliant on her to accomplish certain simple tasks.

Jane finally gets to be with her love & I think this is showing the idealistic woman is completely wrong & if you go against that then you will find happiness. Charlotte Bronte portrays the ideal Victorian woman as having a dull & unfulfilling life with not an exciting future. In the case of Helen Burns, her life was short & miserable from what we see, this seems to get the point across that the ideal Victorian woman will not have a nice life. However the rebel of the story, Jane gets a nice house, lots of money, a man who respects her & sees her as her equal & not a trophy.

She goes against all ideas of what a woman should be & everything comes out fine for her. This shows Charlotte Bronte believes that the Victorian’s portrayal of a woman is all wrong & I think this book could have been influence to the suffragettes as they fought for women’s rights Charlotte Bronte did so in a much more subtle & anonymous way. In Conclusion I think Charlotte Bronte wanted women to realise they could do better & be as good as, if not better than men & I think she shows this very well through her main character, Jane.

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