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Look again at the various presentations of women in 'Jane Eyre'.

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Introduction

Look again at the various presentations of women in 'Jane Eyre'. Choose at least two and write responses to the following questions:- * How do they conform to the expected role of women at the time? * How do they resist the expected role of women at the time? * How does Bronte present women to the reader? Then say how you respond to the way women are presented in the novel as whole. 'Jane Eyre' has been written by Charlotte Bronte under the pseudonym of Currer Bell. First published in October 1847, it is partly autobiographical. Charlotte Bronte tells the reader about the status and role of women during her time, the differences between upper and lower classes and different races; it is about the love of Jane Eyre for a man twice her age and her exceptional role as a woman. 'Jane Eyre' is of a Gothic genre; it paints a picture of gloom, horror and the supernatural, as was popular in the 19th century. In this essay, I shall explore the portrayal of 19th century women in 'Jane Eyre'. I will analyse and compare the characteristics and attributes of two contrasting female characters - Jane Eyre and Blanche Ingram. I shall also survey the author's use of different techniques in language and structure; and the variety in her characters as well as her presentation of story. ...read more.

Middle

Word like "ignorance" and "coarseness" imply how Jane felt about living in such a way. She had lived a life of higher standards and felt superior to the villagers. Charlotte Bronte expresses her sensitivities in depicting how women got over the bounds that held them to their social expectations. But, they still had their own dignity and self esteem to face. Bronte uses the word "duty" to interpret to the reader, the bond that tied Jane to the poor girls she educated. Jane's outlook in life eventually gets her to marry Mr. Rochester. A typical female attribute being part of her, she feels there is nothing more she yearns to do than serve her husband. "...my time and cares were now required by another - my husband needed them all." Jane has cut herself off from her past life. It is imperative to note that Jane no longer wants to be Jane Eyre; she has transformed to a Mrs. Rochester and wants to live her new life as a different person. Bronte's usage of "all" in the above quote renders exactly how women considered their life to be centred upon their homes and families. Jane has forgotten her occupation, her service to the poor; she doesn't even have time for Adele. Women didn't usually do many jobs in the 19th century and after their marriages, their only role in life was to be a good wife, mother and housekeeper. ...read more.

Conclusion

We are thus given additional information on the character of Blanche Ingram. We can tell that she was only interested in having a wealthy husband and living her life in comfort. Though most women were thought to expect this of their husbands, Miss Ingram is shown as unsuitable for Mr. Rochester because she wouldn't have been able to work as a good housewife. On the whole, I think 'Jane Eyre' is a good novel to consider when studying the role of 19th century women. In my opinion, women are portrayed quite realistically. However, many a time, I felt that Charlotte Bronte hasn't been very direct in depicting the role of women. For example, Blanche Ingram is a typical woman of the 19th century - her beauty and wealth give her superior status in society. But as we look through Jane's eyes, we see her as woman whose ego has taken her beyond the height of her status. Also when Jane decides to marry Mr. Rochester for the first time, her decision isn't disregarded or pointed at, although she takes a step highly unconventional for a woman of her time. I feel that Bronte could have added more on what the value of women was in society. In conclusion, I feel that the author has effectively shown the reader a 19th century world through the eyes of a young girl. I liked the story and the variety of characters that Charlotte Bronte has set forth in 'Jane Eyre.' ...read more.

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