Reactions to Patriarchal Oppression in Jane Eyre.

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Reactions to Patriarchal Oppression in Jane Eyre

In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, the characters Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason are both oppressed by the patriarchal system of the nineteenth century Britain.  Each woman refuses to conform to a patriarchal society, but the manner by which each rebel against culture determine a very different future.  By depicting opposing reactions to the oppression, Bronte successfully depicts the plight of women in the nineteenth century.

By the time Jane Eyre is nine years old, she has built up a great deal of resentment of the injustice she receives at Gateshead Hall.  She decides to rebel against the harsh treatment that she receives from her family.  They consider her desire to learn and her independent thoughts to be disobedient and her punishment becomes so intolerable that she could no longer restrain herself.  She attacks the rich and spoiled John Reed, behaving "like a mad cat" (475) and is locked away in a remote, haunting chamber known as the red room.  

At Lowood Institution, under strict rules and regulations, and with the help of another orphan, Helen Burns, Jane learns that it is wrong to rebel against society.  Helen states, "It is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear (506)….It is not violence that best overcomes hate-nor vengeance that most certainly heals injury"(508).   Jane learns to conform to society's rules while still maintaining her sense of independence.

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In the nineteenth century, women do not have a great deal of personal freedom.  There are few options available for them other than marrying and having children.  Jane's occupation as a governess represents one of the only ways a respectable woman could support herself. As an educated and employed woman, she uses her intelligence to earn a living for herself, rather than relying on a man. She is independent and does not need a man to survive.  Even after Rochester proposes to Jane, she still demands that she continue to be Adele's governess, earn her own boarding, and pay ...

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