Gender Roles In The Victorian Era
Topics: Gender, Woman, Feminism, Gender role, Sociology, Victorian era / Pages: 4 (841 words) / Published: Dec 14th, 2015

During the Victorian Era, gender roles were of great significance in society. Men and women had specific duties and expectations due to the gender ideologies of the time. Victorian authors and poets like Charlotte Bronte and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and contemporary author Jasper Fforde utilize characters in their works to portray gender roles of the Victorian Era. However, rather than reflecting the true gender roles, the characters defy them. The incorporation of gender roles in pieces of literature reveals injustice within society and encourages change. Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre, contradicts gender roles in her work through her portrayal of protagonist Jane Eyre. In Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair, protagonist Thursday Next …show more content…
According to Dr. Askin Haluk Yildirim of Izmir Katip Celebi University in Turkey, the union of man and woman during this time was “seen to be a matter of survival for Victorian women” (Yildirim 47). Many articles investigating gender roles of this era often compare marriage to slavery. A woman was “legally the slave to her husband” and the union was one “based on power and force” (Yildirim 47; Sykes). Women were to marry older, wealthier men, to work in the home, educating and raising their children, and to be completely dependent on their husbands. It is for this reason that Victorian women sought out wealthy men. Marriage was of major importance and authors of the Victorian Era often included a marriage plot in their works. Charlotte Bronte and Elizabeth Barrett Browning are two writers who defy the expectations of Victorian women through their marriage plots. In Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Jane is almost certain that Rochester will marry Blanche. Blanche’s “rank and connections suited him [Rochester]” and the union of these two individuals would have been acceptable and predictable (Bronte 353). However, Bronte’s marriage plot does not follow the traditional Victorian path. Bronte’s characters Rochester and Jane develop a relationship one would not expect during this time period. Victorian marriage practices can be revealed in other ways …show more content…
However, Bronte, Browning, and Fforde include a rejected marriage proposal in their works. In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, protagonist Jane Eyre rejects the marriage proposal of a perfectly suitable husband and marries a man who is her employer at the time. St. John Rivers asks Jane to be his wife and to travel with him to India in Jane Eyre. Jane, knowing she does not love St. John, denies the proposal. She states that “as his sister, I might accompany him—not as his wife: I will tell him so” (Bronte 776). Jane stands as an independent women who decides for herself how she will live and who she will marry. Jane agrees to marry Rochester, but as his “equal” and “likeness” (Bronte 484). Victorian women were expected to follow a traditional path and to be inferior to their husbands. Bronte defies the Victorian ideology regarding marriage both by including a plot in which a marriage proposal is rejected and by including a marriage proposal in which the man proposes equality. Jasper Fforde similarly contradicts this Victorian practice in The Eyre Affair with Thursday Next and her romantic relationships. Thursday, like Jane, rejects a marriage proposal and chooses to marry Landen Park-Laine as his equal (Fforde). Lastly, in Browning’s “Aurora Leigh,” protagonist Aurora is a strong woman seeking liberation and independence. While Romney, Aurora’s lover, does love Aurora, Aurora’s goal of

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