Write the first paragraph of your page here.
Charlotte Bronte's feminist beliefs are communicated in the first ten chapter of Jane Eyre. She uses Jane's life to express her beliefs. Jane begins her life with extremely negative ideas of men. These feelings originate from John Reed, the young man of the house. She admits to this terror, “He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh in my bones shrank when he came near” (Brontë 11). Jane learns to take this cruelty, however she strikes back after awhile. She declares, “Wicked and cruel boy!” I said. “You are like a murderer—you are like a slave-driver—you are like the Roman emperors” (Brontë 12). This scene is Bronte expressing her desire to let others know that she believes that women don't deserve to take cruelty from men.
Jane starts a new chapter in her life when she arrives at the Lowood school. She is mostly surrounded by girls during her stay. However she encounters on man, Mr. Brocklehurst. Again, she experiences unhappy encounters with yet another man. He publicly embarrasses her and calls her a liar. He exclaims, “avoid her company, exclude her from your sports, and shut her out from your converse. Teachers, you must watch her: keep your eyes on her movements, weigh well her words, scrutinise her actions, punish her body to save her soul” (Brontë 91). From her meetings with men, it is obvious why she learns to put up a guard against men in order to protect herself. He also plays the role of a man who seeks to put women in their place so that they may not grow. He demands to know why some girls have, “curled hair? Why, in defiance of every precept and principle of this house, does she conform to the world so openly—here in an evangelical, charitable establishment—as to wear her hair one mass of curls” (Brontë 87)? His cruel nature leaves Jane with only negative ideas of men at the end of chapter ten.
In chapter 11 Jane begins her journey at Thornfield. At this point she still has an idea of men to be evil and corrupt. That is why she is dismayed to discover that Mrs. Fairfax is not the owner of the house, but the house belongs to Mr. Rochester. She inquires about him when she asks, “Do you like him? Is he generally liked”(Brontë 143)? On her arrival, Jane is still scared of the idea of an oppressive man because she expects the worst.
However as she grows in Thornfield, Jane discovers more about her identity. With this comes her confidence in herself as a woman. She proclaims, “Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation" (Brontë 149). Jane embodies a spirit of women that Charlotte wanted to express. She wanted to prove that women are meaningful and are worth more than the job that men gave them through Jane's maturation.
Jane is also able to mature with the help from Rochester. The master of the house does not scorn Jane for her boldness, but applauds her difference from others. From this healthy relationship Jane learns not only to trust men, but to enjoy their company. She admits, “The ease of his manner freed me from painful restraint: the friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he treated me, drew me to him. I felt at times as if he were my relation rather than my master" (Brontë 200).
Bronte also inserts her beliefs on other women through Adele and Miss Ingram. She first makes fun of French women like Adele who only care about her appearance and parties. Jane notices that Adele, “ran quite wild in the midst of it: the preparations for company and the prospect of their arrival, seemed to throw her into ecstasies” (Brontë 224). Bronte juxtaposes Jane and Adele to convey that women posses more than their looks even though some do not let it show. She also uses Miss Ingrams social class and grace to show that men do not always enjoy the classic women who stick to their roles. Rochester wants to be in Jane's company suring the party because he enjoys her brain. This entire story line between Jane and Rochester consists of Bronte speaking her mind that their are more to women that are enjoyable than just their classic roles in society.
Chapter 21 consists of Jane's return to Gateshead. It is ironic because Jane is not the same person that she was when she left as a young child. She has matured from a helpless girl into an independent woman. She even notices this change when she states, “It had heretofore been my habit always to shrink from arrogance: received as I had been to-day, I should, a year ago, have resolved to quit Gateshead the very next morning; now, it was disclosed to me all at once that that would be a foolish plan” (Brontë 318). Her experiences and trials throughout her life have made her stronger against all the people who once oppressed her. She has become confident in her own image and does not care what the world thinks of her anymore.
Again, Bronte inserts small, but important clips about her view on how woman should be seen. She does this by making jane say, “Good! but not quite the thing,” I thought, as I surveyed the effect: “they want more force and spirit” about the eyes of the woman she was drawing (Brontë 323). Although it is not important to the story how the woman's eyes are drawn, it is a way Bronte expresses her beliefs. The eyes are considered the window to the soul, which means that Bronte believes that women have so much spirit inside that needs to be noted, or in this case drawn.
Jane continues to uncover her strength through finding differences and standing up to Rochester. She pushes the boundaries of respect when she declares, “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)! She does it again when she announces, “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” (Brontë 351). At Thornfield jane has finally reached a point that she understands her potential and is not afraid to hide it. The fact that this intrigues Rochester proves that Bronte is expressing that strength in women is a desirable and important aspect to look for.
Jane is not the only character that Bronte uses to express her feministic beliefs. Rochester's enchantment with jane and her strong personality focuses on the fact that the beautiful women are not better and more sought after. Rochester defies the norms when he chooses jane over Blanche. He admits this when he confesses, “My bride is here,” he said, again drawing me to him, “because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?” (Brontë 352)? He wants to be equals with whoever he marries which is not what a normal man with money and power should do.
However as Jane begins to be placed in what society tells her to do- become a wife- she begins to lose her independent qualities. She continually repeats the words "I obeyed" or "I rose" as she sunk deeper into this cookie cutter of a life. Rochester began to take control of every thought in her head. Bronte includes this identity crisis to prove that conforming to society creates sadness because it steals ones identity.
Nonetheless, Bronte chooses jane to be the example of a strong woman for her audience. So by the end of the engagement jane is able to break free of the mold and realize that it is more important to love and respect herself that get lost in what the world tells her will bring her true happiness. Jane finally expresses the role of a feministic character when she announces, “Still indomitable was the reply—“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself” (Brontë 437).
In chapter 31, Jane begins her work at the village school. However, she believes she deserves more than what her life is at the moment. She admits is belief when she states, “I felt—yes, idiot that I am—I felt degraded. I doubted I had taken a step which sank instead of raising me in the scale of social existence” (Brontë 498). Jane knows she has greater potential than the classic role she plays at the moment. Nevertheless, she realizes that it is better than the life of sin she would have lived with Rochester. She even reveals this as she notices, “Whether is it better, I ask, to be a slave in a fool’s paradise at Marseilles—fevered with delusive bliss one hour—suffocating with the bitterest tears of remorse and shame the next—or to be a village-schoolmistress, free and honest, in a breezy mountain nook in the healthy heart of England” (Brontë 498)? Jane would rather be left with noting if it means she will have her independence and integrity.
In these chapters St. John is also more frequent. He proves to be a man that Jane sees as a brother figure whom she respects. Bronte uses him as a microphone for her own beliefs. For example he declares to Jane, “It is hard work to control the workings of inclination and turn the bent of nature; but that it may be done, I know from experience. God has given us, in a measure, the power to make our own fate” (Brontë 500). As a manly figure, it is expected of him to have oppressive beliefs about women, but St. John has a attitude that women has choices to make in their life. He is an example of what Bronte believes men should act towards women.
There is also a reason why Jane, “like a fool, never thought of resisting him” (Brontë 552). He was a man with virtue and religion. If she went with him as a missionary, it would be respected, while the situation with Rochester would be full of sin. However in both cases, she made the decisions. With St. John she decided to part because she believes she deserves the best for herself. She knew this was found in a life with Rochester's love. She confesses this when she says, “I repeat I freely consent to go with you as your fellow-missionary, but not as your wife; I cannot marry you and become part of you” (Brontë 564). Jane chooses to not be oppressed by any man, but rather make her decisions based on her desires and beliefs.
An important quote near the ending of the book is when Jane declares to Rochester, “I told you I am independent, sir, as well as rich: I am my own mistress” (Brontë 602). Jane is a feminist character because throughout the novel she goes through hardships and trials in order to gain independence and control. She continues to make sacrifices because she knows what she is fighting for is worth the pain.
Although Jane seems to fall into a classic role of marriage, she embodies feministic beliefs because she has controlled her fate. She is searching for that love from someone who will truly appreciate her whole self. She tells Rochester this, “Mr. Rochester, if ever I did a good deed in my life—if ever I thought a good thought—if ever I prayed a sincere and blameless prayer—if ever I wished a righteous wish,—I am rewarded now. To be your wife is, for me, to be as happy as I can be on earth” (Brontë 618). This action of Jane deciding and not being forced is resembled through Rochester's blindness also. It is Jane who must take care of him. Almost as if she is in control of Rochester. Finally at end of the novel, Jane reaches the love she has been searching for.