Analysison a feminist point of view
Thenovel JaneEyreby Charlotte Brontë can be analyzed from a feminist point of view.The feminism ideology propagates the need for independence andequality of the female gender.. Through the character of JaneEyre, Charlotte Brontë shows the struggles that women go through inthe search for independence and equality. Jane Eyre by first personnarration tells of her encounter at LoWood institute and her workexperience at Thornfield for Mr. Rochester. A central theme that canderived from the story is the quest for independence and equality. We see that despite her childhood challenges and the poor livingconditions at LoWood, Jane rises from a student to a teacher atLoWood institute. She then desires more challenges and applies towork at Thornfield where she upholds her independence by working hardas a teacher. It can also be noted that even when she finally getsinto a romantic relationship with Mr. Rochester, she does not desirehis gifts and the financial security he can offer, but rather, sheonly longs for true love (Brontë, 1847). Jane Eyre demonstrates thatit vital for women to be independent which can actually make themattain some level of equality to their male counterparts.
Thestruggle for independence and equality has also been depicted by manyfemale authors such TheBell Jar bySylviaPlath which also demonstrate the struggle for independence andequality that women experience. Through the character of EstherWood, Sylvia Plath demonstrates that women are in a constant strugglefor independence and equality. For instance she desires to get ascholarship to write for a renowned author, however she is rejectedwhich makes her depressed(Plath, 1963).
It can be stated that JaneEyreis progressive in a variety of ways. Foremost we see that theprepositions of the feminist perspective are promoted thoughsilently. Jane does not want to be negatively dominated by malecounterparts. For instance she out rightly and openly reproves Mr.Rochester’s domineering character. She openly tell him ‘’youask by way of command and you feel superior and deeply proud. Such astated erodes the traditional view that women are to submit withoutchallenging the authority of the men. The book is also progressive inthe sense that it promotes women empowerment issues such as the needfor women to get an education and have careers. Additionally the book explores the power relations that exist between men nd women which is a key component in novels such asthe WideSargasso Sea by Rhys( Rhys, 1939).
Onthe other hand, the book is reserved in the sense that it promotesthemes of chastity and purity among women. We see that Jane does notlay with Mr. Rochester before they are married. Unlike contemporarybooks such as
Classis a predominant concept in the novel. We see that Jane Eyre actuallyadmits to the fact that she is a person of the lower class whenconfronting her boss Mr.Rochester. She describes herself as plain and with nothing much toofferin terms of wealth. Just like other women in her class Jane,has to work extra hard in order to live a comfortable life.
Thebook demonstrated the holding of the traditional class structureswhere those with wealth were categorized as the bourgeoisie, whilethose without were from the lower working class. Similar traditionalclass structures also existed in other narration such as Senseand Sensibilityby Jane Austin. The book highlights how the Dashwood sisters,Marianne, Elinor, and Margaret, moved to the lower class rank ofsociety after their father died (Austen, et al, 2004).We also seethat Jane lacks parents which subjects her to the lower ranking ofthe society.
The book attempts to subvert the traditional class structures byindicating that social class is actually not static or a preserve ofthe wealthy alone. We see that Jane is given an opportunity to riseto the upper class of the society after she marries Mr. Rochester.
Raceand Race Relations
Theissue of race and race relations is not depicted heavily JaneEyreby Charlotte Brontë. However, the book WideSargasso Sea byJean Rhys written as a prologue of JaneEyre talks about the issue of race and race relations. The Book iswritten a just after the abolition of slavery in1833 (Rhys,1939). In most cases, the slaves were black people which implies that JaneEyre mayhave encountered the black race. However, it can be argued that theJaneEyre is a progressive novel based on the fact that it does not focus muchon the slaves who were basically black people.
Representationof Mental Illness
Brontealso brings out the concept of mental illness in her novel. The Firstwife of Mr. Rochester, Bertha Mason, was once a beautiful woman butlater she was ravaged by mental illness. Sadly, she is alienated fromthe public and locked up in a small room. Although during this eramental illness was socially acceptable, Bronte depicted it in anegative way. She made Bertha appear more gruesome and inhumane. Forinstance she makes readers believe that people with mental illnessare just out to harm people and can even go to the extent of killingpeople. A case in point is when Bertha Mason sets fire on Mr.Rochester and later tries to burn the entire house (Brontë, 1847).
Accordingto Joyce(1974),people with mental illness should be given appropriate treatment.Unfortunately, during Victorian era, there were no treatments forsuch disorders. Violence, abusive conditions, 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.
Analysisof the main Character
JaneEyre is the main character in the novel. It can be argued that Jane’scharacter does not reflect the woman of the Victorian era. We seeJane as being assertive, independent and intelligent. Woman of theVictorian era were basically more laid back. In addition, they didnot see the significance of being independence and the need tochallenge the male hegemony. Jane however does things differently.
Janepossesses unique attributes promote issues relating to the concept ofgender. We see that she is committed to the quest for theindependence of the female gender and the lack of dependence on theirmale counterparts. Her character basically demonstrates that womencan actually make it devoid of the existence of a man to influencethe direction of their lives.
Janealso shows that social class did exist at that particular time,however it is possible for one to rise from one social class toanother.
Inmy perspective if the novel were to be rewritten today, Jane wouldstill be presented in a similar way based on the fact thatcontemporary women are actually more aggressive. Additionally, I feelthat Bronte treated her characters fairly.
Austen,J, Margaret Anne Doody, M, Lamont, C, Kinsley, J.(2004). Senseand Sensibility. OUPOxford.
Brontë,C. (1847). JaneEyre. Smith, Elder & Co.
Joyce,J. (1974). Ulysses.New York, Dover Publishing.
Plath,S. (1963). TheBell Jar.Heinemann
Rhys,J. (1939). WideSargasso Sea / Kenneth Ramchand with additional
Smith,R. (2009). Senseand sensibility.London, Scholastic.