Feminism in Jane Eyre Novel

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Literature

JANE AND THE FEMININE CHARACTERS IN JANE EYRE

MARIA HOLMSTRÖM

Martin Shaw

Autumn
2007-01-22
Mid Sweden University

Maria Holmström Mid Sweden University English C-net

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Table of contents

Introduction…………………………………………….…3 Aim…………………… ……………………………..… 5 Method………………………………………………….…5 Theory……………………………………………………..6 Jane’s five periods of her life into self discovery ………...7 Jane at Gateshead………………………………………….7 Jane at Lowood……………………………………………9 Jane at Thornfield……...…………………………….……12 Jane finds her family…………………………………….. 18 Jane marries……………………………………………….21 Conclusion……………………………………………….. 22 Works Cited……………………………………..……….. 23

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Introduction
In this essay my primary analysis will focus on the main character, Jane, in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I have divided her life and personal development into five periods based on the work Mad Woman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. They claim that “Jane Eyre is a work permeated by angry, Angrian fantasies of escape-into-wholeness.” They also make a likeness between Lucia and Jane, “that energetic woman who probably ‘once wore chains and broke them’” is miniaturized in Jane Eyre (Gilbert & Gubar 336). Furthermore, I will apply Gilbert and Guber’s idea about women in the Victorian era and use it in the analysis of Jane and her development. The idea is that women at the time had to overcome oppression, starvation, madness and coldness in order to arrive at the “end station” – wholeness. A secondary focus will be to analyse how some of the other female characters in Jane Eyre affect her life throughout the novel. In each period of Jane’s life it is obvious that the feminine characters affect her development in various ways. Some of these characters will appear in more than one period in my analysis. Furthermore, I will study the narrative of Charlotte Brontë with a contemporaneous theory that the feminine characters can be related to. The novel can be seen as a critique of the Victorian patriarchal society where great differences between men and women and between different social classes where a fact. According to Gilbert & Gubar, Jane Eyre shocked Victorian reviewers as they saw the novel as “‘Anti-Christian’ refusal to accept the forms, costumes, and standards of society” (338). Jane Eyre was first published as Jane Eyre an Autobiography in 1847 under the pseudonym of Currer Bell. The edition used here was published in 2003 and Michael Mason has edited an introduction and notes about Jane Eyre and Charlotte Brontë. The name Jane Eyre is significant for this analysis as Jane is a character who no one pays attention to in the first stage of her life. Gilbert and Gubar explain this in The Mad woman in the Attic: “Jane Eyreher name is of course suggestive-is invisible as air, the heir to nothing, secretly choking with

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ire” (Gilbert & Gubar 342). Jane Eyre is a Bildungsroman, which is a novel that tells the story of a character’s process of successful self discovery (Barry 135). As a reader, we follow Jane through her life from childhood to the stage where she has reached the feeling of wholeness. In the last period of her life she has managed to become rich and reached the feeling of being equal to men as she now is a free woman. “Are you an independent woman? A rich woman? Quite rich, sir. If you won’t let me live with you, I can build a house of my own close up to your door” (Brontë 483). According to literary critic, the novel is a proof for women that there was a possibility to change from less powerful to equal in this society (Mason Introduction).

Jane’s life can be divided into 5 periods:


Jane at Gateshead

The first period of her life takes form in Gateshead where she is raised by her aunt. In this part we meet Mrs Reed, the aunt and the servant, Bessie. Here she meets and overcomes...
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