For a gentleman to marry a governess, let alone his household's governess, was unheard of. Marriage was her only way to better herself. So the stance that Jane takes when she demands that Rochester allow her to continue to work after their marriage was to say the least unusual. Often Bronte puts in Jane's mind and mouth femenist ideas that were revolutionary, such as saying it is narrow minded for men to expect women to limit their mental efforts to "making puddings and knitting stockings." She is not content to marry a rich man and live in the lap of luxury...she wants to be independent and make her own way. When she speaks of herself as mentally his equal before God...I can imagine the furore that would have caused.
Life in 19th-century Britain was governed by social class, and people typically stayed in the class into which they were born. Both as an orphan at Gateshead and as a governess at Thornfield, Jane holds a position that isbetween classes, and interacts with people of every level, from working-class servants to aristocrats. Jane’s social mobility lets Brontë create a vast social landscape in her novel in which she examines the sources and consequences of class boundaries. For instance, class differences cause many problems in the love between Jane and Rochester. Jane must break through class prejudices about her standing, and make people recognize and respect her personal qualities. Brontë tries to illustrate how personal virtues are better indicators of character than class. Yet the novel doesn’t entirely endorse breaking every social rule. Jane refuses, for instance, to become Rochester’s mistress despite the fact that he was tricked into a loveless marriage. Jane recognizes that how she sees herself arises at least partly out of how society sees her, and is unwilling to make herself a powerless outcast for love.
Jane Eyre is a social novel because it deals with several social issues, which is also characteristic of Victorian novels, but the book also has elements of Romantic literature. It was published in 1847, around the same era the Romantics were being read and published. The novel has elements from both the Romantic and the Victorian movement, making it a transitional novel. It marks the beginning of Victorian literature. Jane Eyre as a social novel and therefore a Victorian novel The emphasis on the theme of independence is one characteristic of the book that is influenced by Romantic philosophy. Both Jane and Mr. Rochester become independent individuals by the end and the whole story is about their journey and struggle to reach that point. For example, Jane begins her life in the Reed household living with her aunt, but leaves to Lowood all by herself. There she becomes a Romantic heroine, because she is alone and yet become successful. She goes through he education with diligence, becomes a teacher and then goes off to be a governess for a wealthy man, all which she does alone. She has few friends and no family to depend on. Even her friends eventually leave her either through death, like in the case of Helen Burns, or leave her to go in their own direction, like Maria Temple. The few people who treated her kindly eventually turn out to be temporary presences. The social issues
Some of the social issues that the novel confronts include the growing middle class, the upper class, the occupation of the governess, the issue of servitude, and women. Servitude, the middle class, the occupation of the governess, the issue of being a woman...