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The Marxist Theory focuses on an individual or a group of individuals that are being oppressed by those with greater power or those above them (known as the oppressors).
The Marxist Theory relates perfectly to the novel, Jane Eyre, especially in the fist 10 chapters. In the beginning of the novel, Jane Eyre is clearly oppressed by Mrs. Reed and the Reed family when Jane says, "It is not my house, sir; and Abbot says I have less right to be here than a servant" (Bronte 30). Jane is clearly shown to be an outcast amongst the family, especially after John decides to abuse Jane by hitting her with a book for no reason. The Reed family continues to abuse and oppress Jane throughout the beginning of her life.
The reader encounters another oppressor of Jane's when Jane goes to school at Lowood, a school for orphans. Mr. Brocklehurst embarrasses Jane in front of the whole school calling her a liar and much more. Jane is fed very little food and lives in very poor conditions until new advisors come to the school and fix everything. The previous advisors including Mr. Brocklehurst oppressed Jane by mistreating her and almost in a sense, abusing her.
Throughout Jane's journey of her maturation and redifinding moments, Jane begins to learn that not only is she being oppressed, but all women in general. She even says it herself about women, "It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex" (Bronte 150). This means that even though women may achieve in something or have great success, that women is not praised or brought out to the light for it. Instead, she would be ridiculed by going against the social norm for women. The social norm for women at the time was for them to shy away and fall into the role as a weak and frail person who has to follow commands and do the household chores. They have no major importane in the "big picture" ideas of the world. Jane experienced very harsh conditions while at Lowood under the "care" of Mr. Brocklehurst. Mr. Brocklehurst repeatedly starved the young women and "cut off [their] hair" (Bronte 169). Although ridiculed and basically abused, Jane pushes on. At one point she gets humiliated in front of the whole school being called a liar by Mr. Brocklehurst. Due to her young age and her title as an orphan which carries along its share of disadvantages such as the thought of "no one loves you anymore", Jane is oppressed by her advisors, mainly Mr. Brockelhurst.
In chapters 21-30, plenty of action-packed and thrilling events occurred. After returning home back to Thornfield from her visit to Mrs. Reed who fell ill and died, Jane continues her relationship with Rochester. Although Rochester is portayed as a very loving human being, Rochester changes for the worse. Rochester's and Jane's relationship becomes a little rocky. Rather than submitting to the social norm by submitting to Rochester, Jane sticks up for herself and says, “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” (Bronte 350). This is one of the first times Jane stands up and rises up against those who oppress her, in this case Rochester. Rochester has repeatedly brought her down and insulted her with cruel names. He has done this by attempting to gain control and power over Jane, oppressing her. Jane, unlike a woman in the Victorian Era, revolts against the oppressors. She shows that even she has a stronger character than Rochester. Furthermore, Rochester is crying out to Jane, asking for forgiveness and compassion towards him so that he may be with him. “Oh, Jane, this is bitter! This—this is wicked. It would not be wicked to love me.” Jane responds very maturely and very bravely. “It would to obey you” (Bronte 436). Jane confronts Rochester about his oppression towards her through this conversation. Rochester realizes his actions and oppressive deeds towards Jane but it is too late. The Marxist Theory is clearly evident through Rochester oppressing Jane and belittling her every moment.
In Chapters 31-38, Jane resides in Moor House while teaching a young group of kids at a local school. She has been handed over a house by the wonderful St. John who has mercifully taken her off of the streets and given her a place to call "home". During her stay, Jane has been revealed many exciting things: she has inherited money from her family relative, Uncle John, and she has as well recently discovered that St. John and the other girls at Moor House are actually his family. Jane is overjoyed due to the fact that she has finally found someone who is part of her bloodline that treats her with respect, compassion, and most of all love. Throughout the months, Jane becomes hypnotized by St. John's "freezing spell" and follows his commands. She feels as if "her liberty of mind" has been taken away. St. John clearly oppresses Jane more psychologically than physically in the sense that Jane follows every command of St. John's (550). Jane says that "As for me, I daily wished more to please him; but to do so, I felt daily more and more that I mlust disown half my nature" (551). By following St. John's wishes, Jane is losing her inner self. After a few more months, St. John pulls Jane aside and asks her to join him along his missionary life and travel to India as his missionary wife. He says to Jane, "Jane you wouldn't repent marrying me--be certain of that; we must be married" (565). St. John is clearly trying to force Jane into marrying him, rather than giving her her own choice. Jane politely agrees to go to India with him but not as his wife, but as his sister. This is due to the fact that the only reason St. John proposed to her is because of his selfish ways and all he wants of Jane is to be a "missionary wife", just someone who can tag along with him on his journeys. Jane acknowledges this and refuses his proposal because it is not the act of true love that is driving St. John to marry Jane. Jane then leaves Moor House and returns to Thornfield in hopes to find her lost love. Rochester has been taken away of his vision and one hand. In his helplessness, Jane finds Rochester and they declare their love to each other and eventually get married. Rochester is a changed man due to these horrifying physical occurences. Jane says "there was no harassing restraint, no repressing of glee and vivacity with him; for with him I was at perfect ease, because I knew I suited him" (604).