Revision of Master Narratives Within Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea

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To be able to discuss adequately how the master narratives of Bronte and Rhys' time are revised, one must first understand what those master narratives were and what the social mood of the time was. From there one will be able to discuss how they were revised, and if in fact they were revised at all.

Bronte is known as one of the first revolutionary and challenging authoress' with her text Jane Eyre. The society of her time was male dominated, women were marginally cast aside and treated as trophies for their male counterparts. Their main role in life was to be a mother and a wife, " Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life……the more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure she will have for it." A quote from a letter Robert Southey wrote to Bronte. A clear sign of the mentality and opposition Bronte was up against. A woman's "proper duties" of course being to tend and wait on her "master's" every whim and need. Women during Bronte's time had no clear voice, none that was of any merit, they were a silent category of society, silenced by their male oppressors. Bronte's book was in fact written before the first women's rights movement had happened, yet it puts forward an image of an independent strong character, of a passionate and almost rebellious nature. A character "refusing subservience, disagreeing with her superiors, standing up for her right's, and venturing creative thoughts." I put forward that Bronte throughout her text not only revises the themes of male power and oppression, but reconstructs them also. The text is a female bildungsroman of it's time, sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly tackling the patriarchal view of women.

Immediately from the start Bronte's character Jane is different. She is an orphan, mis-treated and despised by her family. She has no clear social position, is described as "less than a servant" and treated like one. A protagonist who one would assume had no characteristics worth aspiring too. Jane is displayed perfectly in her hiding behind the curtain. She is placed by a window, which beyond is icy and cold, contrasting immensely from the inside of the fire and warmth. A clear statement of the icy coldness of the family she has been put to live with, and her fiery and passionate nature which we discover throughout the book. Children were very much taught to be seen and not heard in Bronte's time, so for a young girl to be so volatile and passionate would immediately have been deemed by society as a trouble maker. Any sign of deviancy would be punished by the patriarchal system of that time, especially that of a deviant girl. As the patriarch was entirely male, the oppression of the female gender was swift and harsh.

At Lowood Jane ultimately has to conform to the rules and regulations of the male domination to exist and live. Here she becomes a "quiet…disciplined and subdued character." This time in Jane's life, brings up questions and queries into whether Bronte does in fact revise master narratives, which I will look at later on.

Throughout the course of the text this female character pulls herself up from no social standing to somebody with a wealthy inheritance, eventually marrying the man she loves under her conditions, without having to compromise her beliefs or herself. Jane's relationship with Rochester is a key element of Bronte's revising the master narrative. She of...
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