"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte, a direct assault of Victorian morality.

Essay by Graham YeomansCollege, UndergraduateA, March 1997

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In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte portrays one woman's desperate struggle to attain her

identity in the mist of temptation, isolation, and impossible odds. Although she processes

a strong soul she must fight not only the forces of passion and reason within herself ,but

other's wills constantly imposed on her. In its first publication, it outraged many for its

realistic portrayal of life during that time. Ultimately, the controversy of Bronte's novel

lied in its realism, challenging the role of women, religion, and mortality in the

Victorian society.

In essence, Bronte's novel became a direct assault on Victorian morality. Controversy

based in its realistic exposure of thoughts once considered improper for a lady of the

19th century. Emotions any respectable girl would repress. Women at this time were not

to feel passion, nor were they considered sexual beings. To conceive the thought of

women expressing rage and blatantly retaliating against authority was a defiance against

the traditional role of women.

Jane Eyre sent controversy through the literary

community. For not only was it written by a woman but marked the first use of realistic

characters. Jane's complexity lied in her being neither holy good nor evil. She was poor

and plain in a time when society considered 'an ugly woman a blot on the face of

creation.' It challenged Victorian class structure in a strictly hierachal society. A

relationship between a lowly governess and a wealthy nobleman was simply unheard of.

Bronte drew criticism for her attack on the aristocracy who she deemed as hypocritical

'showy but ... not genuine.' She assaulted individual's already established morals by

presenting a plausible case for bigamy. Notions which should have evoked disgust and

outrage from its reader. Yet its most scandaless aspect was its open treatment of love.

Passionate love scenes which were...