Feminism in "Jane Eyre", by Charlotte Bronte

Essay by wonder0filledHigh School, 11th gradeA+, January 2007

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In her novel Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte; portrays a titular character who tests the boundaries of feminism in her quest for independence. In its first publication, Brontë's highly feminist novel outraged many with its blunt portayal of societal life. In essence, the novel was a direct assault on Victorian morality, with controversy borne in its realistic presentation of thoughts considered entirely improper for a lady of the nineteenth-century.

Expectations for a woman in the Victorian era were clear-cut, and very few women dared to venture beyond these guidelines. Women were meant to be pure and clean, they were supposed to marry young, and they were expected to have children and tend to the house. They were to be educated in only those subjects necessary for their duties of raising their children, and they could not hold a job unless it was that of a teacher. Most importantly, however, women were expected to be obedient.

Jane Eyre, however, did dare to push the boundaries set by expectations and became a model of feminism built upon self-sufficiency and independence.

Jane's need for independence begins to develop in the beginning of the book when she tells her aunt that "I am glad you are no relation of mine; I will never call you aunt again as long as I live; I will never come to see you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick." Her anger at not only her emotions having been trod upon but also at her now-ill portrayal in Mr. Brocklehurst's mind empowered her to develop a sense of independence, and the prospect of school allowed her to rebel by demonstrating that it wasn't entirely necessary for her...