Controversial Issue in Jane Eyre

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Jane Eyre
By: Charlotte Brontë
Every topic in life can be portrayed as a controversial issue. There always have been two sides to every discussion and there always will be two sides. In the novel Jane Eyre, feminism is portrayed as the main controversial issue. In the early 19th century, women lived in a world that measures the likelihood of their success by the degree of their “marriageability”, which would have included their family connections, economic status and beauty. Women were also subject to the generally accepted standards and roles that society had placed upon them, which did not necessarily provide them with liberty, dignity or independence. This novel explores how Jane defies these cultural standards by her unwillingness to be defined by “marriageability”, unwillingness to submit herself to a man’s emotional power and her desire for independence while keeping her dignity.

Jane does not allow her goals to rest solely upon marrying. Although Rochester's betrayal sends her into depression, she tells St. John that she could be perfectly happy as a simple teacher with her own school and a few students. Jane’s attitude toward Mr. Rochester, when he attempts to impress her with jewels and expensive clothes for her wedding starts to prove her role as a feminist. In fact, she says that "the more he bought me, the more my cheek burned with a sense of annoyance and degradation" (Brontë 236). Her unwillingness to be objectified is the best indication that she does not define herself by two of the "marriageability" components; economic status and beauty.

The act of Jane leaving Mr. Rochester shows her courage. By this decision, she both defies the Victorian expectation of submitting to a man's will, which would be acting as Rochester's mistress and shows that she can break from the emotional power that Rochester has over her. Though it is hard for her to leave, because she did in fact fall in love with him, she musters up the courage to leave a life of...
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