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The Marxist theory is clearly portrayed in Jane Eyre. In Jane's youth, she is constantly oppressed for being an orphan and coming from a poor family. From studying this theory, understanding the life of the author is important in knowing the values of the culture. It is interesting to note that Jane is a poor orphan, similar to the author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë. It can be inferred that she was looked down upon and oppressed due to her unfortunate circumstances. However, like Jane, Charlotte did not let the unfortunate circumstances of her life define her. One day, after being called a liar by her aunt, Jane responds, “I am glad you are no relation of mine: I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am grown up ... The very thought of you makes me sick," (Brontë 51). Following in the archetypal footsteps, it is only fitting that Jane, the oppressed, retaliate. Jane has reached her breaking point and has finally snapped. While escaping the tyrannous rule of her aunt, Jane soon finds herself under the cruel authority of Mr. Brocklehurst. As punishment, Jane is forced to stand on a chair in front of her new school and be publicly acknowledged as a liar and deceiver. Jane asks herself, “here I lay again crushed and trodden on; and could I ever rise more?” (Brontë 99). Jane is physically exhausted. She cannot even find the energy to get herself off the ground because she has been stripped of any pride and self-esteem that she had by Mr. Brocklehurst. One of the repercussions of Jane's traumatic past of being oppressed daily is her need for affection. Jane has never felt a true love, and she does anything in her power to be loved. Jane even claims, "if others don't love me, I would rather die than live," (Brontë 101). Since Jane has never truly been loved, she now has a driving desire to feel any type of affection. She searches for affection from family, teachers, and friends, but almost all disappoint, with the exception of Helen. Jane is such a realistic character because Charlotte Brontë knows what a person with this past would be like. Jane is Charlotte in character, which makes this book, Jane, and the Marxist theory that much more interesting.
As a result of looking at Jane from the Marxist lens, a whole new side of her is revealed. After being terrorized in her youth due to the unfortunate circumstances of her past, it seems that Jane's oppression finally ends once she arrives at Thornfield. In fact, Mr. Rochester, a man of high status in the society, claims, “I don’t wish to treat you like an inferior: that is” (correcting himself), “I claim only such superiority as must result from twenty years’ difference in age," (bronte 208). Mr. Rochester sees his "superiority" over Jane only because of his age and experience. He does not oppress jane because of her lack of wealth or the troubles of her past. He sees her as a respected individual. However, while he may not discriminate against one without money, Rochester will only marry one with high status and social rank. For example, jane states, “I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps political reasons, because her rank and connections suited him; I felt he had not given her his love,” (bronte 290). It is clear to jane that while Rochester does not love Blanche, her wealth is suitable for him. It is not surprising, however, to the rest of society because this was a widely renowned value of this time. Social ranking was seen as the prominent quality in a spouse. In fact, jane even claims, “the longer I considered the position, education, &c., of the parties, the less I felt justified in judging and blaming either him or Miss Ingram for acting in conformity to ideas and principles instilled into them, doubtless, from their childhood," (bronte 291). Jane cannot find fault in either of them because that is what they have learned to value. In this society, from childhood, people learn to value social class above all else. It is only fitting that a man of wealth in this society marry a beautiful women who also holds high esteem in the society, even if there is no love between the two whatsoever. It is clear that this culture, while not knowing it, thrived and revolved around the Marxist theory.
As the novel continues to develope, so does the Marxist theory and it's role in the story. As Jane continues to mature while at Thronfeild, many events occur in her life that shape her into the women she will become. In theses chapters, Jane is not oppressed by a one specific character, but by herself. She begins to listen to the lies of superiority that exist in this society. In Jane's previous years, she would not accustom to the values of Victorian England society. Jane would not let her past affect the way she was looked at by the society, especially Rochester. However, as the novel continus, Jane begins to truly believe the the lies that society whispers into her ear. For example, after realizing her love for Rochester, Jane claims, “I knew there would be pleasure in meeting my master again, even though broken by the fear that he was so soon to cease to be my master, and by the knowledge that I was nothing to him," (Brontë 338). The society has convinced Jane that because of her past and her current status of governess that she cannot marry a man of Rochesters status. Even after he has told her that he sees her equal to him, she still views him as a master and unattainable. Similarly, as Jane looks at Rochesters relationship with Blanche, she explains, “I began to cherish hopes I had no right to conceive: that the match was broken off; that rumour had been mistaken," (Brontë 340). Jane believes that she has no right to think that. Rochester would break off his marriage with a prestigious women to marry a governess. However, after Jane discovers Rochester's motives, Jane regains her self esteem and retaliates. For example, denying Rochester her stay, Jane states, “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you,—and full as much heart," (Brontë 350). Jane regains her confidence and proves to Rochester that regardless of her past, she is still as much of a human as Rochester. Her past does not define her, therefore she should not be looked down upon because of it. This is a pivotal point in Jane's life. Even though she has no where to go, Jane has enough courage and confidence to do what is best for herself and leave Thronfield, proving that she cannot nor will not be oppressed by the society.
As the book comes to an end, Charlotte Brontë finally concludes the Marxist lens in a unique way. As Jane and St. John's relationship develops, the reader begins to see St. John's corrupt view of Jane. For example, before embarking on his mission trip, St. John declares, “we must be married. I repeat it: there is no other way," (Brontë 565). Similar to Rochester, St. John does not give Jane an option. He declares that she marry him, even though no love is shared between the two. It evens becomes clear to Jane that St. John oppresses her. Jane states, “I daily wished more to please him; but to do so, I felt daily more and more that I must disown half my nature... He wanted to train me to an elevation I could never reach," (Brontë 551). In order to please St. John, Jane must lose her individuality and sense of self respect. He tried to inforce on Jane his own beliefs and force her to adapt to his own morals. However, as the book comes to an end, a shift in the oppression takes place. While Rochester use to oppress Jane, Rochester becomes humbled by his new predicament. He now, even though physically blind, can see life, and specifically Jane, for the true beauty that they hold. Contrasting to the previous oppression that Jane underwent, now Rochester cries out, "Jane! Jane! Jane! Where are you?" (Brontë 621). Rochester now seeks help from Jane. He saved jane from a life of despair, now Jane saves Rochester from a life of pure misery and hopelessness. The roles have switched entirely. Through this switch, Jane is able to fully gain independence and reach full individuality. She has spent her entire life and devoted, as a result of her past, herself to being an independent women and this goal is finally attained.