Preview

In What Sense Is Jane Eyre a Feminist Novel?

Good Essays
Open Document
Open Document
259 Words
Grammar
Grammar
Plagiarism
Plagiarism
Writing
Writing
Score
Score
In What Sense Is Jane Eyre a Feminist Novel?
In what senses can we take this major Victorian novel as a feminist text? Writing in 1966, R. B. Martin, who makes many fine points about about the novel 's techniques and meaning, argues that it is essentially pre-feminist:

The novel is frequently cited as the earliest major feminist novel, although there is not a hint in the book of any desire for political, legal, educational, or even intellectual equality between the sexes. Miss Bronte asks only for the simple — or is it the most complex? — recognition that the same heart and the same spirit animate both men and women, and that love is the pairing of equals in these spheres. . . . The famous plea that women ought not to be confined 'to making pudding and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags ' [Chap. 12] is not propaganda for equal employment but for a recognition of woman 's emotional nature. The condemnation of women to a place apart results in the creation of empty, capricious women like Blanche Ingram, who tyrannize over men whenever possible, indulge in dreams of Corsair lovers, and can communicate only in the Byronic language of outdated romantic fiction. Only equals like Jane and Rochester dare to speak truth couched in language of unadorned directness. [pp. 93-94]
Even in Martin 's terms, can you take Jane Eyre as a feminist work?

How does he define feminism, and which works in this course would meet his definition?

References
Martin, Robert B. Charlotte Brontë 's Novels: The Accents of Persuasion. NY: Norton,



References: Martin, Robert B. Charlotte Brontë 's Novels: The Accents of Persuasion. NY: Norton, 1966

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    Gender is a social status, a legal designation, and a personal identity and unlike sex, it is not determined biologically but rather it is determined by social constructs. In the novel Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Brontë, binary gender is explored. This novel questions the processes and practices that construct gender identities and gender social statuses. The characters in Jane Eyre clash with rigid feminine and masculine roles that are typically stereotyped but does not ultimately question the status quo. During the Victorian era, your gender determined what you were and were not able to do as well as how you went about achieving what you wanted to do. Jane, being the rebellious character that she is, criticizes the social roles of women…

    • 126 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    In the novel Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte wants the readers to be able to have insight about what it was like growing up as a female during this era. In my analysis of the book, I found that the novel did a great job portraying what it is was like for women to grow up in the era that the book takes place in. Women is this period of time were treated with disrespect, and were forced to be a typically housemaid and were not allowed to have real jobs. When Jane Eyre was growing up, she was often shunned by her aunt and cousins and was taken into rooms to be locked in with no one else. In my opinion, this shows how poorly women, young girls in particular, were treated. In addition to women being treated incompetently, they also had far less personal…

    • 715 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre tells the story of Jane’s growth and development as she searches for a meaningful existence in society. Author Faith McKay said, “No matter what your family happens to be like…it affects who you are. It matters.” Jane is an orphan, forced to battle a cruel guardian, a patriarchal society, and a rigid social order. (Anderson, “Identity and Independence in Jane Eyre”) Jane has concrete beliefs in what women deserve, as well as obtainable goals for how she imagines her place in society as a woman (Lewkowicz, “The Experience of Womanhood in Jane Eyre”) and with self-growth, Jane Eyre was able to define herself as well as equip herself with wisdom and…

    • 116 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Victorian mores are the unspoken rules known and observed by society. In the eighteen-hundreds several mores were very important including justice, Christianity, high standards of honesty and morality, and women’s roles. All good people are part of a family, a Christian family and women are to serve men as they stand unequal to them. Marriage is simply a tool to gain more money and connections, and only people of the same social class are worthy of each other. Whichever social class someone is born into they remain in unless of course they are rich or beautiful, the poor and plain are simply there to be the butlers, maids and governesses of those who are high up. Several of these mores are demonstrated and contradicted in Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 masterpiece Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is the life story of a young heroin that faces incredible odds and terrible situations and still manages to follow her heart and morals through an exciting life that leads her to a blissful ending. Charlotte Bronte uses her narrative to display several of the Victorian mores and demonstrate why they’re important, and alternately disprove the significance of others.…

    • 1660 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Dbq Essay On Jane Eyre

    • 251 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Bronte demonstrates her stance on feminism by creating characters that defy the stereotypical ideal woman during the Victorian era. Jane’s characterization opposed many desired virtues of the Victorian era because the ideal woman at the time was docile and selflessly devoted to her family as demonstrated in Patmore’s poem which reads, “ Man must be pleased, but him to please/ Is woman’s pleasure.” (Document E) As opposed to the character of Jane Eyre portrayed as a strong, stubborn woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and has control of her own choices. Since she has no familial male figures present in her life, Jane has the opportunity to make autonomous decisions on what she wants, contradicting the standard rule of male ownership of…

    • 251 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Every topic in life can be portrayed as a controversial issue. There always have been two sides to every discussion and there always will be two sides. In the novel Jane Eyre, feminism is portrayed as the main controversial issue. In the early 19th century, women lived in a world that measures the likelihood of their success by the degree of their “marriageability”, which would have included their family connections, economic status and beauty. Women were also subject to the generally accepted standards and roles that society had placed upon them, which did not necessarily provide them with liberty, dignity or independence. This novel explores how Jane defies these cultural standards by her unwillingness to be defined by “marriageability”, unwillingness to submit herself to a man’s emotional power and her desire for independence while keeping her dignity.…

    • 859 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Jane Eyre

    • 1057 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Bronte critically challenges what was generally portrayed about women’s feelings and their emotions in the 19th century. Bronte’s view about women is that they “…are supposed to be very calm generally: but [they] feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do.” The use of first person, through Jane, articulates Bronte’s feelings directly as they happen, providing a more detailed and insightful response to readers. The way in which Bronte communicates her views about women’s feelings and their emotions, using very assertive language, would have evoked fiery debate among Victorian readers because the expected values of women in this time period would have involved them being emotionless and entirely dependent on their master’s, either being their father or husband.…

    • 1057 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Jane Eyre: Sexism

    • 1879 Words
    • 8 Pages

    In the cases of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice and Emily Bronte's Jane Eyre, the ideals of romantic love are very much the same. In both 19th century novels, women's wants and needs are rather simplified. However, this could also be said for the roles and ideals of the male characters. While it was obvious that this era was responsible for a large amount of anti-female sexism in society and the economy, can it also be said that male-female partnerships were simplified from the male perspective?…

    • 1879 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The father or in this case the mother of feminist literary criticism, is “Jane Eyre” written by Charlotte Bronte in 1847. Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its eponymous character, including her growth to adulthood and her love for Mr. Rochester. The novel contains elements of social criticism, with a resilient sense of morality at its core, but is nonetheless a novel many consider ahead of its time given the individualistic…

    • 1633 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Controversy of Jane Eyre

    • 1356 Words
    • 6 Pages

    The novel itself challenged the class structure in a hierarchal society. No one had ever heard of a lowly governess and a wealthy nobleman like Jane and Mr. Rochester finding love for each other. It was something that was simply unheard of. Ms. Bronte…

    • 1356 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    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…

    • 841 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Bronte presents the female characters in many different ways. One early example we see of this in chapter one is Jane’s passion as you speaks out a John. “You are like a murderer – you are like a slave-driver – you are like the Roman emperors!” This is the first time we see Jane’s true passion as she is speaking out to John. By doing so, she is breaking the social norms of that time.…

    • 867 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Zora Neale Hurston, a woman of moving, “anthropological and folkloric field work” had taken the underground literature world by storm with her 1937 work of “Their Eyes Were Watching God” , a moving piece of magical work for the life of the oppressed woman. With references to her own life such as Eatonville and the multiple marriages, I began to see how though there are traits of a non- feminist novel it does have the correct tones of feminism. Being as though the novel was written in the 20th century where women had just gained equal rights as men, (thanks to the works of The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies ( NUWSS) Suffragists , the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) Suffragettes and the likes thereof) the story was given an earned place in literature history.…

    • 737 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Schweickhart’s essay is the basis for what I think is the most important issue in academic, literary feminism: finding and becoming a strong feminist reader. Granted, academia is an extremely specific subset of feminism, but if I incorporate her theme of praxis it can be applied to other areas of feminist thought and action. Schweickhart presents the idea of “feminist readings of male texts and…feminist readings of female texts” (39). It’s vital to critically examine the books of the “androcentric canon” through a feminist lens. Similarly, when reading female authors it is also crucial to approach the texts with a healthy dose of skepticism; Jane Austen buys into the same gender roles and expectations that a male writer like D.H. Lawrence does. Gendering the texts by the sex of their author is not the point. Rather, it is to draw from the traditional literary canon while being aware of the need to find female texts that, by default, have been excluded from that canon. I found it crucial that Schweickhart acknowledges that we can love a book that we ourselves as a feminist condemn as sexist.…

    • 534 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Feminism has transformed the academic study of literature, fundamentally altering the canon of what is taught and setting new agendas for literary analysis. In this authoritative history of feminist literary criticism, leading scholars chart the development of the practice from the Middle Ages to the present. The first section of the book explores protofeminist thought from the Middle Ages onwards, and analyses the work of pioneers such as Wollstonecraft and Woolf. The second section examines the rise of second-wave feminism and maps its interventions across the twentieth century. A final section examines the impact of postmodernism on feminist thought and practice. This book offers a comprehensive guide to the history and development of feminist literary criticism and a lively reassessment of the main issues and authors in the field. It is essential reading for all students and scholars of feminist writing and literary criticism.…

    • 149501 Words
    • 599 Pages
    Good Essays