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Discuss how "Jane Eyre" and the works of Robert Browning subvert gender stereotypes.
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Discuss how the texts you have read subvert gender stereotypes.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, and Robert Browning's poems Porphyria's Lover and My Last Duchess, are works written in the Victorian period in which traditional gender stereotypes are both subverted and reaffirmed. As the works progress, a pattern of initial subversion followed by eventual domination and conformity is discovered. It is thus made clear to the reader that Victorian women could find ways of being that went against the patriarchal society in which they lived, but that ultimately they were still subject to male oppression.
In the Victorian period, women and men were not considered equal - a concept which can be difficult to envision for the modern reader. Women did not have the franchise, classed amongst convicts and lunatics in the legal system, and it was believed that a woman's purpose was merely to bear children: "Female energy expended in reproduction was not available for psychic and intellectual growth" (Conway, 1972, p.140). Although the works of some female writers were being published, such as that of Letitia Elizabeth Landon, women were seldom celebrated unless they were of elite standing. Regardless of social standing, women were seen and
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