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Condition of Women in Jane Eyre

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Jane Eyre is a notable literary work by Charlotte Brontë. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Jane Eyre.

Answer

What was the condition of women reflected in the novel “Jane Eyre”?

 

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) is an influential literary genius in the history of English literature. Her autobiographical novel “Jane Eyre” (1847) portrays the condition of women in the Victorian society.

Lower-class Women are Neglected: The novel “Jane Eyre” critically observes women’s position in England. Jane’s childhood episode expresses the miserable condition endured by the lower-class women. Jane’s aunt, Mrs. Reed, is so cruel that she often locks Jane in the Red Room where Mr Reed died. To Jane, it is a haunted place. Not only Jane’s aunt but also her cousins torture her. The following lines are the example of Jane’s loneliness in Gateshead Hall,

I was a discord in Gateshead Hall: I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage. If they did not love me, in fact, as little did I love them.

Disrespect Attitude: In the Victorian period, women were treated disrespectfully. The Lowood School is a sign of such an attitude. Lowood School is an institution where the orphan female children study. Jane and her friend Helen Burns are treated disrespectfully. Mr. Brocklehurst is the cruel and hypocritical master of the Lowood School. He hypocritically supports Christian morals but steals from the school’s funds. So, she desired liberty and prayed to God to grant her liberty.

I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the mind then faintly blowing.

Pleasurable Subject: Almost all Victorian novels support the minor position of women in society. Victorian people regarded women as a source of pleasure. Hardy’s novel “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” reveals the exact condition of women. In the novel “Jane Eyer,” we notice that Mr. Rochester is a married man. Despite having a wife, he keeps women and falls in love with Jane. Jane’s student, Adele Varens, is the daughter of the French opera singer and dancer Celine Varens, with whom Mr. Rochester had a long relationship. From this discussion, we can clearly understand that in Victorian society, women were considered the subject of men’s pleasure and childbearing.

Gender Roles: In the novel, Jane passionately expresses her dissatisfaction with the traditional and constricting gender roles imposed on women. She argues that women are just as capable of feeling and needing intellectual and emotional inspiration as men. Jane’s words reflect early feminist themes as she challenges the societal standards that limit women to domestic tasks like cooking and sewing or restrict their roles to playing music and doing embroidery.

Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel;… and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.

(Jane Eyre, Chapter 12)

Cynical Attitude toward Women: Jane Eyre is an anti-romantic novel that critically represents the cynical attitude towards women. Mrs. Reed and Mr. Brocklehurst are expressions of the cynicism of Victorian society. The novel tells Jane’s quest for independence, autonomy, and equality. Charlotte Bronte voices against the Victorian inequality toward women through this narrative. Even Bronte published this novel initially under her male disguise name, Currer Bell.

Inequality: The novel underlines the gender inequality of the time, particularly in the treatment of women. Women like Bertha Mason, Mr. Rochester’s first wife, were often locked away when they did not conform to societal standards. Jane’s journey to self-discovery and empowerment represents a feminist perspective. Her denial of being restricted to traditional female roles and her pursuit of personal growth and fulfillment challenge the limitations placed on women in her era.

Overall, we can summarize Charlotte’s experience of being a Victorian woman through her powerful feminist novel Jane Eyre.