REPRESENTATION OF VARIOUS WOMEN IN JANE EYRE AND THE SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN IN THE VICTORIAN SOCIETY Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte utilizes the Victorian convention of the orphaned heroine who is forced to find her way in the world. Two popular feminist theorists, Sandrs M. Gilbert and susan Gubar have said in their essay “The Madwoman in the Attic” that there is a trend int the literary history that places women characters into one of the two stereotypes : either the “passive angel” or the “active monster”. The “angel” image is one of the domesticated woman whose ultimate goal is to please and tend to her husband and family. However,Charlotte bromte did not limit her characterization to this strict dichotomy between monster and angel. Jane eyre herself possesses many of the qualities of the angel:she is pure,moral and controlled in her behaviour. Yt,at the same time,she is passionate,independent and courageous. She refuses to submit to apposition of inferiority to the men in her life,even when faced with a choice between love and autonomy and ultimately triumphs over social expectations. Moreover,her childhood experiences demonstrate the same rebelliousness and anger that characterize”the monster”. Her appearance of control and patience is learnt at her staya y Lowood though she stillll maintains the fiery spirit that defined her charactera s a child. Throughout the novel jane encounters numerous women who offer her either positive or negative models of women. In a book which is so concerned with the narrator’s own development, a typical BILDUNGSROMAN,it is perhaps inevitable that these role models should be reperesented in ways that emphasize the role they have in formation pf her character and opinions. The initial female characters that we are introduced to,apart from Jane herself are Mrs. Reed and her two daughters,jane’s cousins Eliza and Georgiana. Mrs. Reed palys the role in Jane Eyre of the almost Cindrella-like evil aunt showing llove only towards her two precious daughters and son. The negative connotation is already prevelant in her name, Reed, which was a typical whip to punish little children with at that time. Infact, physiology is a very prominent theme in Jane eyre. The names of the characters are associated with their personality and the way the characters are. As it is,Mrs. Reed provided Jane with a very tiresome and unmindful childhood,continuosl reminding her of the fact that she is a benefactor and dependent. The Reeds never seem to think Jane as family. More often than not,Mrs Reed abuses Jane mentally and physically. When Jane is shut up in the red room she actually screams and cries for help but Mrs reed turns a deaf ear . The fact that shutting her up in the red room makes it even more cruel on the part of Mrs. Reed considering Mr. Reed died in the specific room. Given the family’s belief in supernatural,makes Jane imagine all sorts of things like seeing Mr reed’s ghost in the room and she ultimately passes out. Despite all the tortures that Mrs Reed put Jane through one cannot disagree that Mrs. Reed is a strong character in the novel. At a time when women were ony confined to houseld work and were subjugated by men Mrs Reed seems to be an independent and strong woman, a trait that jane herself inherited. She also appears to be a social woman who enjoys formal gathering and has no qualms in talking to pther men and can handle situations effectively. The other two female characters are Eliza and Georgiana Reed, Daughters of Mrs Reed. They are beautiful and confirm to the notion of the Victorian woman. For example Georgiana when she was older wanted to marry Lord Edwin Vere but her sister told her mom and she didn’t approve. Therefore she did not marry him. Although he really liked him Georgiana ended up marring a wealthy man. The only mother figure in Jane’s early life was Bessie. Bessie was nurse at Mrs. Reed's house, she took care of Jane when was a child. Bessie was far more than a nurse...
Bibliography: “Madwoman in the Attic” Sandra Gilbert and susan Gubar
Dark Dobles in Jane eyre-Chatnoir
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