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The Exposure of Feminist Critique in 19th Century Literature: a Look at Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre


Resistance is the action of fighting back versus an undesirable force that may be considered overbearing in ones life. It is created for different causes and comes in many kinds; it may be made spoken, explicit, implicit, physical, and even made humorous or satirical. Charlotte Bronte, a 19th century Victorian feminist composed her novel Jane Eyre as a means of exposing the restricting environments, disgraceful illiteracy, and pitiful reliance upon male family members for survival (Brackett, 2000).

Charlotte Bronte used literature as a way of feminist cultural resistance by identifying the hidden aspects of how the Victorian ideologies, gender and social construction of that time was limiting, and exposes barriers that faced females in the early 19th century, and these very same barriers that continue to face women today. Her feminist writings throughout this time period explored the depths of feminism and the ideas of restrictions through class differences and limits in a hierarchal, classist, and sexist society throughout the time of Victorian England.

You can check out also Analysis of Literary Devices of Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre is a prime example of the use of feminist long fiction, which includes female characters whose mission for self-satisfaction causes conflict within a generally patriarchal society (Brackett, 2000). Victorian ideologies in Bronte’s work and life are extremely obvious. In Jane Eyre, Bronte presents and continuously describes Jane as plain and worries her absence of requisite appeal as the heroine of the book.

Most likely in male Victorian literature, the heroine or more so, damsel is presented as a reasonable maiden, with rosy cheeks and flashing eyes. Bronte uses this mould and opposes it by producing a woman who is “puny, with irregular functions whose unpromising physical characteristics never ever fail to be said upon by everyone she experiences and by herself” (Brackett, 2000). Bronte deliberately highlights Jane as this “un-ideal” heroine to poke at the typical ideological female heroine. She likewise defies ideological Victorian etiquette in Jane Eyre.

When Rochester is presented to Jane, Bronte presents a feminist picture of Jane and the time duration in which a “female walking alone in that period ought to never resolve a guy, but Jane heads out of her way to help Rochester– she even lets him place his hand on her shoulder, and although Rochester tries to stop her, Jane explains that she would never walk away without assisting an individual in requirement” (Brackett, 2000). The reversal of sex roles in the novel highlights Bronte’s displeasure of the way ladies in Victorian society were deemed as unworthy of giving assistance and just receiving it.

Throughout the novel Bronte ensures that Jane is constantly saving Rochester from emotionally and physically harmful situations. She rejects Rochester’s presumption that she is defenseless, and declares her self-reliance by stating, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will which I now exert to leave you,” (Bronte, 282). Jane’s self-reliance of mind in Victorian society “has her to a degree that would be a handicap to the conventional Victorian marital relationship and is a risk to the literary custom of masculine heroism” (Bell, 1996).

Bronte presents a Jane as realist, yet a utopian romantic, while at the exact same time confronting social truth. Whatever Jane states implements that she is not the normal romantic heroine whose life story will end in marriage. Bronte uses Jane as a heroine who has the ability to acknowledge and finally break down the barriers if gender, and class. Resisting social construction throughout Bronte’s time is a difficult feat when women are dependant on men and wealth for survival. The concept of keeping one’s class or worry becoming a poor castaway exists several times throughout Jane’s life.

Jane at a young age does not want to be related to poorness by refusing to quit her middle class status she feels entitle to while coping with the Reeds. When Jane is asked if she wants to find any of her other relatives she responds, “I ought to not like to come from poor individuals” (Bronte, 10), and includes “I might not see how bad people had the means of being kind …” (Bronte, 10) after learning that they too were poor. Jane is taught at a young age to look down on people not of her caste, and to oppress them the same way that she herself is oppressed as a female orphan.

Though Jane is not affected directly by social status at all times, it is still a continuous aspect which Bronte makes evident. In Victorian England, a woman needs to either be born or married into her social class, and this is what specifies her. The character of Jane served to damage the popular female stereotypes of fiction: the angel of your house, the void, or the slut (Brackett, 2000). Bronte creates Jane as her own force, in which she is neither the angel, invalid or whore, but a young lady who is smart and has pride and self-respect.

In this Victorian society, her unsubmissiveness and self-reliance is her social fault, which Bronte satirizes (Brackett, 2000). Male Victorian writers cast women throughout this time as social, finagling creatures whose goals are to acquire as lots of good friends as possible and throw the most sophisticated parties. Bronte opposes this by developing Jane as an opposite of these “specifying” characteristics, by making Jane a female who could are less about how many individuals love her, a female who would really delight in a life with couple of buddies.

As pointed out previously, Jane’s sense of self-respect is evident. As Jane became Rochester’s governess, she is confronted with the choice of ending up being Rochester’s girlfriend, causing this internal battle in between her love for Rochester and her self respect. Instead Jane decreases this proposition as she would rather have her self respect undamaged, a relocation few women would have chosen in Victorian society. Bronte is not only singing about the absurdness of these Victorian ideologies, however she is also rigid in pointing out that these ideologies directly oppress the female gender.

In Jane Eyre, Bronte slams the Victorian conceptions of gender roles. She does this in numerous ways throughout the unique, however one was by explaining in Jane Eyre that Bertha Mason is viewed as “inhuman” when she acts out by setting her other halves bed on fire. Bertha’s enraged with fury at her hubby Rochester’s betrayal due to the fact that he got engaged to Jane; Bronte communicates the point that women throughout this time ought to limit all emotion, or else they are seen as alien.

Bronte also stresses education, or lack thereof, which was something that ladies throughout that time either has very little of, or had no access too depending on their class. In a scene, when Jane is all but eight years of ages, Jane receives harsh treatment from her more youthful male cousin John Reed, and when she retaliates she is reprimanded for it and is informed to treat her “young master” with regard, triggering her to question is she herself is seen as a servant.

Another idea of injustice through gender throughout the Victorian age in Jane Eyre is when Jane needs to decide in between either ending up being either an instructor or a governess. This is necessary due to the fact that it highlights that females had just two choices in terms of employment, and both of which include male superiors. While lack of education in ladies prevailed during this time, Bronte again forces the reader to recognize Jane as being a specific, whose intelligence and education amounts to that of a male’s. Upper class women never ever had occupations, nor did they ever work.

However following Jane’s engagement to Rochester, she tells him that she will continue to work since she declines to be dependant on a male, and that she will not be subservient to him. Here Bronte is exposing the Victorian idea of dependence on husband/male family members for survival, by making Jane dependant on only herself. She requires the reader to see that she has produced Jane and Rochester equal. During the Victorian age, gender plays a specifying role in how one is perceived within these Victorian ideologies and injustice since of gender, Females are expected to be really calm usually however ladies feel just as males feel; they require exercise for their professors, and a field for their efforts as much as their bros do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too outright a stagnation, specifically as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to state that they should confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to using the piano and embroidering bags.

It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or discover more than custom-made has actually pronounced needed for their sex” (Bronte, 96). This passage highlights Jane’s feelings of imprisonment and of the female condition, where women are clearly not dealt with as equivalent to males, and talks about Bronte’s own views on the basic conditions of Victorian females.

This passage also mentions Bronte’s critique of not only gender roles, but the feelings of jail time of society, of her class, and of her battle with her feelings as a female with morals. Bronte’s usage of literature as an exposing representative of ladies during Victorian societies is very important to the feminist cultural resistance movement. Throughout the novel, the injustice of females within Victorian ideologies, gender and social class is made clear, and Bronte uses Jane as an opposing force versus these limiting concepts of the time.

Jane not only has an unclear social standing, which leads to her to criticise discrimination based on one’s class, but she likewise is constantly fighting more powerful male forces than herself in order to not be seen by her sex but as a human individual. While this book was composed in the 19th century, its vision does work towards social justice, acknowledging and trying to expose these barriers that have and still continue to control the female sex. Bronte uses her art to expose male cultural power and female social identity throughout a time of artistic male dominance.

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