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What Makes Jane Eyre An Unusual Woman For Her Time?

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Introduction

What Makes Jane Eyre An Unusual Woman For Her Time? Charlotte Bronte wrote 'Jane Eyre' in the mid nineteenth century. At this time women were treated as inferior and believed to be less capable then men. In the Victorian age this belief was widely accepted and most women would marry and have children. Women were generally expected to serve men; this meant many ladies were both emotionally and financially dependent on their husbands. The fact that most women abided by these traditional values meant that it was extremely difficult for women to get jobs in the Victorian age. Employers were often against the idea of employing women because they were not believed to be as efficient as men and it was looked down upon in society. The only jobs widely accessible to women were Governess posts, this was felt to be a women's job as it is the mother who would traditionally care for children in those times. The novel is written in the first person narrative meaning Jane is telling her own story. It is clear from the very beginning that Jane Eyre is an unusual child,' my worse ailment was an unutterable wretchedness of mind.' As a child Jane is forced to mature fairly quickly due to the resentment she receives from her benefactress. Unusually for a young child in that time she spends a lot of time reading books ' the word book acted as a transient stimulus'. Jane is keen to learn, an unusual quality for a girl of her time because most would be ready to rely totally on men so had no need for this knowledge. This want to learn stemmed from Jane's desire to be independent. As a child Jane is singled out from her cousins and forced to learn independence, it seems only natural that Jane would therefore value her ability to rely only on herself. ...read more.

Middle

Despite the fact that Mr Rochester now has little money, is blind, has lost one of his arms and has severe burns she still loves him! In the Victorian age most women would marry for money or just for social acceptance, Jane however is the one with the money at this stage and by marrying Mr Rochester would achieve no higher status in society and yet she does. It is the strong-willed and selfless way she reacts to events in her life that makes her so unusual compared to other women who lived when she did. It is when these events in her life occur that her religious beliefs really give her strength. Although Jane is a faithful Christian she tends to refer to nature a lot almost as if Mother Nature is part of her beliefs. God plays an important role in Jane's life as it does in most Victorian women's, but Jane has her own unique faith. She believes in God and follows traditional Christian values though she often turns to mother nature, ' I have no relative but the universal mother'. The theme of nature runs right through the novel and plays an important role in her religious beliefs. When at her lowest points instead of referring to God, Jane tends to turn to nature as her refuge. At one point when fleeing Thornfield Jane visualises Mother Nature and hears her beckoning, 'My daughter flee temptation'. Although Jane is a Christian I believe in her heart she disregards her teachings of God and instead turns to mother nature, few women living at this time would have the inner strength to believe such an extraordinary idea. Jane states, ' I thought she loved me, outcast as I was; and I, who from a man could anticipate only mistrust, rejection, insult, clung to her with filial fondness'. This statement is very similar to one Helen made just before she died concerning God, this suggests that Jane holds Mother Nature in place of God. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jane is also an unusual governess because she thinks of herself as an equal to her employer and Mr Rochester himself calls her his 'equal'. Most Governesses would be dismissed for suggesting that they were equal to their employers in the time Jane lived. Jane is like Blanche Ingram in some ways in the fact that Blanche is very confident. Ingram is confident and sure of herself because of her high class and status, whereas Jane appears confident because she is very self-assured and brash. They are also both very opinionated; Jane has a very definite point of view and is fairly stubborn, similar to Blanche Ingram. However I still believe Jane to be unusual because she has this confidence and strength of mind not because of her status merely down to her character. It is not fair to say Jane is a typical Victorian women because she is similar to Blanche Ingram as these women are in very different situations and I think for somebody in her position Jane is very unusual. Charlotte Bronte gave Jane Eyre the personality she has because she wanted to get opinions across and to do that the character had to be a certain way. It is clear that some parts of the book are actually based on Charlotte Brontes own life and I feel she was trying to recreate her own personality within the character. The independence of Jane causes the reader to feel a certain respect for her and the way she lived her life. By creating this respect within the readers mind it makes the novel appear more believable and encourages the reader to think further about the story. It also helps involve the reader by giving them an insight into Jane's personality. Jane Eyre is unusual due to her independence and her strength of mind, not only her personality but also her status. From humble beginnings Jane becomes a wealthy middle-class women, this must be one of the main reasons she is such an unusual women for her time. Erin Baker Page 1 4/27/2007 ...read more.

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