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Considering the social, historical and literary context of Jane Eyre, would you proclaim Charlotte Bront as the champion of feminism of her time?

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Introduction

Considering the social, historical and literary context of Jane Eyre, would you proclaim Charlotte Bront� as the champion of feminism of her time? I do agree with the idea that Charlotte Bronte was the champion of feminism of her time, and this is reflected throughout her novel Jane Eyre. She uses Jane's development from passionate child to independent woman to express her views on feminism. At the time that Jane Eyre was written, everything was changing. In the society of Bronte's time, women were greatly oppressed, as were many other people (e.g. the poor). This oppression was emphasized, and partially caused by, the obvious class distinctions. However, things had begun to change. The first notable indication of this inevitable change was the French Revolution which occurred late in the 18th century. It was a period of major changes to the political and social structure of France, which spread to every corner of Europe, including England. During this revolution, the French government, a prime example of monarchy and 'unfair' privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent a series of radical changes based on the ideas of democracy, equality and citizenship. The country's motto was changed at this time to the current motto of 'Libert�, Egalit�, Fraternit�' which means 'Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood'. The main things which led to this uprising were resentment of royal absolutism; the privileges granted to nobles; the dominance in public life by the richer and more ambitious classes and, finally, the high level of unemployment, high bread prices and food scarcity. The period of the revolution (C. 1789-1799) and its aftermath altered the way people all over Europe thought. This radical change meant that people realised that they could do something similar, and the omnipresent oppression needn't exist much longer. Another example of this change was how the position of women was in society was changing. There was an ongoing campaign for women suffrage led by Emily Pankhurst, and these women paved the way for generations of feminists to come. ...read more.

Middle

The French Revolution) and feminism. Jane shows that she shall not be oppressed by anyone, regardless of their age, sex or social standing. During Jane's journey to and arrival at Lowood, the weather was used to reflect her mood. The afternoon was described as 'wet and somewhat misty' which shows her sense of uncertainty and the lack of clarity regarding her future. She heard a 'wild wind' amongst the trees on her journey, and this is used to show a rush of anxiety. When she had finally arrived at Lowood, 'rain, wind and darkness filled the air' which shows that there was nothing positive in her mind when she had come to Lowood. Jane's first day at Lowood was very unpleasant and gives us a clear idea of how people of her status were treated then. She was given a breakfast that she could barely eat, prayers were said often and bible study was necessary, it was bitterly cold and she was forced to get up before dawn and expected to work hard all day long. The students were to wear strict, plain uniforms and wear their hair very plainly to teach them the 'Christian value' of modesty. This shows repression from the school establishment. They were also disciplined cruelly, and Jane's feelings about this were typical of her passionate thoughts as a child. When Helen Burns was disciplined in front of her for the first time, Jane was shocked at how well she bored the punishment and had expected her to blush or weep. Helen was calm and composed about her situation, as someone older and more mature would be, but Jane is still a passionate child. Helen encourages Jane's spiritual development and helps to mature her. When Jane speaks to her about Miss Scatcherd's cruelty and her own feelings about it, Helen tells her that to act rashly and passionately is selfish, irrational and against what the Bible teaches. ...read more.

Conclusion

This chestnut tree represents the social barriers their love was breaking down, and in the morning, it had been split into two. Another prominent part of Jane's character is her strong moral values and integrity and her determination to stick to them. When she makes her decision to leave Thornfield, she is torn apart by what she wants to do and what she knows she should do. She wanted to be weak and stay behind to be his mistress and have financial security, but by doing so would lose her self respect so she chooses to leave him. She does not wish to be treated unfairly, and makes her own decisions based on her own principles. Jane once again shows her integrity by turning down St John Rivers' marriage proposal. He wishes her to go to India with him and do missionary work, but she refuses on the grounds that, although it would hold spiritual reward, the marriage would not be for love. She asserts her independence once again when she says that God did not give her life so that she could throw it away, and if she did his bidding then she may as well be committing suicide. This shows that she wouldn't be happy doing anything other than exactly what she wanted. After receiving a great amount of money from her dead uncle, Jane now feels she is completely independent and free from the shackles of every moral and social code that has ever held her back. Upon hearing Rochester's cries for help, she returns to him because she is now completely his equal. When Jane finally returns to Rochester, she finds him a cripple. Before she had been the caged bird, but now he was the caged eagle - their roles had been reversed. She was free and independent, yet he was completely dependent on someone to help him do the most menial of chores. When Bertha jumps to her own death, Rochester repeats his proposal of marriage to Jane, and she finally accepts. She is finally Rochester's equal and the woman is triumphant. Caoimhe McWilliams 1 ...read more.

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