• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Bronte explore the position of women in Victorian society in the novel Jane Eyre and how does she challenge it?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How does Bronte explore the position of women in Victorian society in the novel ?Jane Eyre? and how does she challenge it? The Victorian era was a tough period for women, and Charlotte Bronte, a woman herself growing up in the Victorian times, reflects this in 'Jane Eyre', and also shows the way Jane challenges the classical stereotypes of a woman in this period in a variety of ways. Thinking of a woman in Victorian society, one may think of a woman as submissive, passive, less-educated, emotional, and obliged to serve their male spouses- somebody who should ?learn their place? and slot into it. We however do not see characterises as strong as these with Jane. To call Jane a ?feminist? may appear a little too extreme, however it would be fair to say that she would best fit in a society where men and women were treated as equals, living with the same lifestyle. R.B Martin however explains, that when Jane says her ?Do you think I am poor, obscure, etc..? 'speech', she is not acting as a feminist, it is purely said due to emotion, and the fact that Jane never questions her limited career opportunities or her submissive-like role, shows that she is not quite the 'complete' feminist. Throughout the novel, it is clear that Jane ?struggles? to fit into the established social gender classes of the Victorian era ,and that she is not willing to give up her values and beliefs in order to adjust to the traditional role of a Victorian woman. ...read more.

Middle

She is unlike Fanny Price- who suffers emotional mistreatment with no complaint and who is seldom assertive, though it is also apparent that her character does not reflect that of the rather wild Bertha, or Lucy Westenra in ?the heroine of Bram Stocker's Dracula?. We see Jane detach herself from the classic Victorian woman in her reactions to being given jewels by Rochester. She states that "the more he bought me, the more my cheek burned with a sense of annoyance and degradation". This directly compares to Blanche Ingram, a character self-absorbed in her own image, appearing shallow and lacking any real substance. In Victorian times, beauty and purity were a vital part of getting a wealthy, respected and honourable husband. Victorian women were not meant to have opinions regarding political issues and were only to talk to about materialistic things such as; clothes, jewellery and other accessories. Blanche Ingram, unlike Jane, possessed all of these qualities and therefore ?Most gentlemen would admire her.? This stands in sharp contrast to Jane, who prides herself on being fully independent from a man and not defining herself by the wealth and luxury Mr. Rochester offers her. One of the most shocking parts of the novel at the time was Jane's rejection of men. The rejection of marriage makes Jane transcend into the idea of her being the ?New Woman?, an idea created and one that evolved greatly by the end of the 19th Century, one that was strongly opposed at the time by Mrs. ...read more.

Conclusion

She goes on to marry somebody of her own social class, but due to her lack of independence, she does not move 'up' the class system, unlike Jane who progresses from a teacher to governess to headmistress to eventually marrying somebody who, by the end of the novel, is seen as very much the same social class as Jane is. To conclude, throughout the novel Jane shows a clear defiance of authority, a longing for independence and a rejection of the 'norm'. She formulates her own views about religion through the different people she meets (Helen, Brocklehurst and St.John) and also forms her own opinion about social class, as seen when she asks of Rochester to look beyond her social standing- ?I have as much soul as you- and full as much heart?.The fact that Jane refuses to marry St.John, and at one point Rochester, shows that although she does not consider herself below them, she wishes to remain independent and dignified, free from their demands and desires. Regarded by many as a prime example of the ?New Woman?, who goes against the Victorian stereotype of Jane Austen's Fanny Price, Jane maintains her strong sense of morality, and prioritises love and her own happiness over suiting the needs of somebody else, and her views on equality, her desire for freedom, and her unwillingness to sacrifice her beliefs and values to fit the social norm set her apart from the traditional model of a Victorian woman- ?I would always rather be happy than dignified?. Thomas Smith ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Charlotte Bronte section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Charlotte Bronte essays

  1. Discuss the Role of Religion in Jane Eyre

    She tells Jane that she must not hold on to all her resentment and negative feelings towards those who have treated her badly, including her Aunt and cousins. When Helen is dying, she and Jane converse about God. While Helen represents a view of unquestioning faith, Jane has nothing but questions.

  2. Jane Eyre: an unconventional heroine. Explore how the female position is presented

    Jane is a character who is sure of herself and her behaviour is described as "a picture of passion." However, the reader cannot deny she is very intelligent and that she has a very good judgement of character. Jane's uniqueness is detectable from the start.

  1. How does Charlotte Bront develop the adult Jane Eyre through the presentation of the ...

    There is variation of her sentence structures, and a vast vocabulary has started to be used.

  2. Explore the presentation of obsession in men in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and ...

    Therefore, both Rochester and Parry become obsessive in their attempts to change their 'loved one', and both times they are entirely rejected. Rochester demonstrates another feature of his obsessive love for Jane in his actions and his desire to protect her when she is at risk from Bertha, "Mr Rochester flung me behind him, the lunatic sprang".

  1. How far do you agree that the character Jane Eyre challenges Victorian ideals of ...

    but continues to express herself, ?I will say the very thought of you makes me sick? and ?Because your wicked boy (John Reed) struck me? this clearly indicates her rebellion against Mrs Reed who is of a higher class. The words ?sick? and ?wicked? connotes that Jane is challenging the normality of how lower classes present themselves to upper classes.

  2. People talk of natural sympathies From their first meeting, Jane and Rochester are well-matched. ...

    and independent; in this respect he is in part Jane?s alter ego. A Byronic hero is so called after the poet Lord Byron, and this term is especially apt as it refers to a charismatic yet brooding and misanthropic character.

  1. In Jane Eyre love and marriage are important in different ways. In some relationships ...

    The verb ?formed? suggests that it is Jane?s destiny and fate to be a missionary?s wife. St John?s potential marriage to Jane is a direct contrast to if he was to marry Rosamond Oliver. ?I love Rosamond Oliver so wildly?she would not make me a good wife.? He loves Rosamond

  2. Jane Eyre - Development of Jane's Characters as a Child.

    The family returns, and Mr. Lloyd speaks with Mrs. Reed with the recommendation of sending Jane to school. Later, while pretending to be asleep, Jane overhears Miss Abbot and Bessie discussing her parent's history. Jane?s mother was a member of the wealthy Reed family but was cut off financially when she married a poor clergyman against the wishes of her father.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work