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How does Bronte explore the position of women and the poor in Victorian England throughout her novel 'Jane Eyre

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Introduction

How does Bronte explore the position of women and the poor in Victorian England throughout her novel 'Jane Eyre?' Jane Eyre was Charlotte Bronte's first successful novel. Published in 1847, Bronte presents us with critique of Victorian assumptions regarding social class and gender. Way ahead of its time, Charlotte Bronte (or publicly none as Currer Bell), caused much commotion critically. In her novel Bronte explores many issues of Victorian society such as women's stature both generally and amongst poor in the 19th century. She also explores patriarchal male domination, and the segregation and unspoken restrictions between the different classes and stations. Society in Britain in the 19th century was very different to today's women had a very different role back then as education was limited, there were certain 'requirements' of being a 'lady' such as playing the piano, sewing, drawing and speaking French. Also at this time there was allot of poverty in great Britain and although Bronte doesn't delve into it she does keep a constant fear over Jane's mind of slipping in to it, which could easily have had been done with out her determination, "if she were to turn you off you would have to go to the poorhouse". Bronte opens 'Jane Eyre' with the setting of a "cold winter" and uses pathetic fallacy in the first opening paragraph to deposit a mood, "clouds so somber, and a ...read more.

Middle

The flock of birds, lighted to rest is symbolism of Jane and all the different personna there has been throughout the book, all coming to rest as Mr Rochester offers Jane this life security. Later on in this chapter just after Jane agrees to marry him, "the rain rushed down" this almost acts like a warning to Jane and again an insight into the future as Mr Rochester is deceiving her into a false marriage as is later portrayed in the book. Bronte also uses major symbolic references at the end of this chapter when "the great horse-chestnut at the bottom of the orchard had been struck by lightning", this great horse-chestnut tree represents Mr Rochester and for a long time he had been deceiving allot of people for being a bachelor, single, and after the night of his proposal to Jane it is to be destined that his secret marriage would be exposed and it will be clear that he already has a second half. Notice that "half of it split away", this could be a resemblance of Bertha Rochester and her later death. At Gateshead the servants treated Jane "less than a servant" and referred to her as a nuisance. When cut off from the rest of the Reed family Jane is given tasks and chores to do and nagged over them, "No, Bessie; I have only just finished dusting." ...read more.

Conclusion

Jane Eyre is written in the first person narrative, which has advantages of engrossing the person who reads in the thoughts and feelings of the narrator; this enables her to grasp the hearts and minds of the reader. Bronte has also hallmarked this book by her use of direct address; this disengages the reader from the storyline to develop an affection and empathy to the main character, "READER, I married him." The book's simple and straight forward structure is dominated by its theme, which elevates the position of women. In conclusion the key message from the novel is the position of women in society in Victorian England. Jane Eyre was frustrated and felt helpless but as she self-develops and takes opportunities as they come. She wants to try and make a difference, to prove to herself and others that she doesn't have to be what society dictates. Bronte's attitude to the position of women was confrontational as shown by Jane's unique character and challenging thinking. Bronte explores the various factors which influence women's position in society; class is the dominating one whilst beauty or lack of it can make a difference, "if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness". A good education is also an influencing aspect on women's position as this is their only weapon against the patriarchal society of Victorian England. Bronte's views on women's equality with men is accepted in western society now, but at the time these thoughts were very radical. ...read more.

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