TheNovel “Jane Eyre” is a popular literature by Charlotte Bronte.She narrates her experiences, how she strived to be an independentwoman, as well as her struggle for equality and true love. She isdifferent from other women and is determined to defend her fate indifficult conditions and hardships. This essay analyzes the novelfrom a feminist point of view, how the novel upholds traditionalclass structure, representation of race and race relations, andrepresentation of mental illness. In addition, the essay analyzesJane Eyre, who is the main character.
Fromthe feminist point of view, the novel presents various femaleexperiences of female characters. Jane, who is a female character, isthe first person narrator hence, feminist naturally predominates. Inaddition, there are other several female voices in Jane Eyre. Jane issometimes progressive while at other times she is regressive.Regressive aspect is experienced when Jane goes to live with herdying aunt, Mrs. Reed together with her family. On the other hand,progressive aspect occurs at Lowood School where she makes friendswith Miss Scatchered and Miss Temple, who have opportunities toobserve her behaviors and character. Further, Eliza Reed andGeorgiana Reed have stories to tell about their unwanted cousin Jane,their father’s death, their mother’s illness, and their brother’sfavoritism. In a regressive way, the novel discusses the ‘silence’of the first Mrs. Rochester. For instance, her marriage with Mr.Rochester, her encounter with Bertha Mason, and how he attacked herbrother, Mr. Mason. Moreover, Bronte exposed Jane’s feminism threesteps. The first step is when she started fighting her poor childhoodlife. The second step is through her miserable life in boardingschool. The third step is through her pursuit of true love, equality,and independence (Smith2009, 89).Jane’s growth reflects Charlotte Bronte growth.
Thesociety in which Jane lives upholds traditional class structures. Thenovel consists of language, symbols, and imagery that help the readerto understand Jane’s story of her life. Bronte uses traditionalsymbols such as water, moon, birds, seasons, and clothing that holdthe same meaning over time. Bronte reflects the commencement ofmodernism. She opposes customary religious beliefs and traditionalclass structures. Bronte resists women oppression through her strongheroine voice. In the nineteenth century, it was a struggle for womento reign their mind and spirit. However, for Bronte case, she adopteda gender-neutral pseudonym that gained her expression freedom.Likewise, Bronte resisted traditional structure through her heroinedesire for freedom and excitement. She ran away from a situation thatresisted her freedom while she embraced those that offered herfreedom. James (2011) in her book “Fifty Shades of Grey”advocates for female freedom. For instance, she would not toleratebeing a missionary wife, but she married Rochester, who offered herfreedom. According to Rhysand Ramchand (2005, p.102),the relationship between Rochester and Antoinette represent colonizedand colonizer relationship. Antoinette is economically enslaved.Antoinette fortune is automatically Rochester’s as well.Additionally, Antoinette feels lots of passion towards Rochester, butChristophine advice her to leaves him.
Inthe nineteenth century, racism was still in existence. In “JaneEyre”, Bronte had challenges of identifying racial identity.Racialism in the novel is embedded in Jane’s struggle for freedom.Bronte allows her readers to think Bertha is a black woman.Antoinette’s childhood is torn between the black and the whitecommunity. She has two friends, Christophineand Tia, but she cannot identify with them. Antoinette is a White whohas been raise up with values of dominance and superiority. Further,there is marginalization between black and white communities. At thestart of the novel, Antoinette is not comfortable with herself andshe would rather be someone else. In addition, there is a thickparallel line between Antoinette and Amelie despite both havingsimilarity in their names that bares French origin. Antoinette’swhite Creole culture splits her myth of England, which makes her viewit as a metropolitan centre. Further, Rochester plays a role ofcolonial exploiter who is against the Caribbean. He tries to convertAntoinette from the Caribbean and later stigmatize her saying thatshe comes from a degenerate culture. Additionally, Plath(2015 p.105) talks about the grades of whiteness and the marks ofimpurity assigned to British colonial whiteness.
Brontealso brings out the concept of mental illness in her novel. The Firstwife of Mr. Rochester, Bertha Mason, was once a beautiful woman butlater ravaged by mental illness. Sadly, she is alienated from thepublic and locked up in a small room. Although during this era mentalillness was socially acceptable, Bronte depicted it in a negativeway. She made Bertha appear more gruesome and inhumane. According toJoyce(1974 p.36),people with mental illness should be given appropriate treatment.Unfortunately, during Victorian era, there were no treatments forsuch disorders. Violence, abusive condition, and alienationaccompanied these untreated disorders. This is unlike in the modernsociety where people with mental disorder receive much care.Therapies such as lobotomy and electroconvulsive therapy are sometreatment used today. Unlike in the Victorian era where people withmental disorders lived in dirty cages, people with mental disorderstoday receive special care and treatment.
JaneEyre is the main character in the novel. Orphaned at childhood, Janepossesses a sense of self-worth, justice commitment, and passionatedisposition. Unlikely, she receives cruel treatment from her AuntReed’s family. She struggles for her freedom, and when Rochesteroffers her a chance to unfetter her passion, she realizes thatfreedom can also mean enslavement. Throughout the novel, it isevident Jane is an intelligent and honest woman. She succeeds inmaintaining her morality, human dignity, and justice. She also valuesemotional and intellectual fulfillment. Jane has strong belief insocial and gender equality, and she challenges her society againstwomen and the poor. In my view, if the novel were to be rewrittentoday, Jane would be still presented in the same way since the novelis based on a true story. Additionally, I feel that Bronte treatedher characters fairly.
James, E, 2011, ’ Fifty shades ofGray,’’ Vintage Books
Joyce,J. (1974). Ulysses.New York, Dover Publishing.
Plath,S. (2015). TheBell Jar.[S.I.], HarperCollins.http://api.overdrive.com/v1/collections/v1L2BaQAAAJcBAAA1M/products/1907b6c3-4b5f-40fc-aa4d-e070de447282.
Rhys,J., & Ramchand, K. (2005). WideSargasso Sea / Kenneth Ramchand with additional advice from MalaMorton Gittens.Harlow, Longman.
Smith,R. (2009). Senseand sensibility.London, Scholastic.