Feminism in Jane Eyre

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AP English III

Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre in 1847, when men were far superior to women. That is why a major debate remains on whether Jane Eyre is a feminist novel or not. It would not be surprising to say that the novel has very feminist undertones because of the time period, the Victorian Era, in which women were treated poorly. However, one could argue that Jane Eyre is actually an anti-feminist novel due to some of the context throughout the story. Both these feminist and anti-feminist ideals portrayed the overall position of a woman in Victorian society. Although at some points the novel was clearly feminist, other times in displayed more of an anti-feminist tone, but both of these aspects contributed in depicting the position and treatment of women in this time period.

From the very beginning of the novel, the reader realizes that Jane Eyre is an independent character. She has no money or family, and basically is forced to do everything for herself. That in itself portrayed feminism because it proved that Jane was never dependent on a man: not a father, brother, or even an evil, powerful cousin (John Reed.) We did not get to see the true feminist Jane Eyre until later in her life when she got married. Jane was never one to accept fancy jewels and loads of money from her new rich husband, Mr. Rochester. She would much rather be the woman who earns things herself, and works for everything she gets. The biggest feminist point made in the novel is that Jane could not truly be happy in a marriage until she had earned a living herself, without being dependent on her husband. This is why Jane could not stay with Mr. Rochester in the beginning of their marriage, but came back to him in the end. After Jane had her own money and her own family, she realized she was a strong, independent woman, and could finally be satisfied knowing she was marrying for love and not for money, or any of the wrong reasons. Jane Eyre proved that she could live in...
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