Female Oppression in Jane Eyre

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Throughout Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë uses the character Jane as a tool to comment on the oppression that women were forced to endure at the time. Jane can be seen as representative of the women who suffered from repression during the Victorian period, a time when patriarchy was commonplace. Brontë herself was affected by the time period, because according to Wolfe, she was deprived “experience and intercourse and travel.” (70) Thus Jane offers a unique perspective as a woman who is both keenly aware of her position and yet trapped by it despite repeated attempts to elevate herself and escape the burden placed on by her different suitors. Although superficially it seems that Jane wants to break away from the relationships that further suppress her, in actuality she is content to remain subservient. Rather the main conflict of the novel is Jane’s repeated attempts to reconcile her moral code with her societal obligations. Surprisingly, Jane doesn’t leave Rochester because of his continued dominating behavior, something it seems she curiously enjoys; rather she chooses to leave Rochester because her relationship with him would fail to fulfill her desire for a moral and righteous life. Despite being aware of Rochester’s lack of morality Jane cannot risk losing her own integrity, and in this way we see that Jane is a slave to her own value system. Jane’s principals are defined by sacrifice, strength, and determination to lead a moral life as defined by society. When struggling to force herself to leave Thornfield Jane refers to her heart as a “victim” and her moral side as a “priest” ready “to transfix it.” (335) One can interpret that Jane views the side of her dedicated to Rochester as weak and feeble, while her moral side is strong. The fact that she refers to her religious side as a priest is also important, because that job not only calls to mind religion, but also sacrifice and inner strength. Even as she is starting to stand up for herself and take a stand...
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