Jane Eyre, Charaterisation of the Male Charaters
In Charlotte Bronte’s, “Jane Eyre” the concept of the ideal Victorian male is severely challenged. Characteristics of loyalty, honour, wealth, moral uprightness, and intelligence are seen to be a part of an equation that equals the ideal Victorian male. However, these distinctive characteristics are deemed unrealistic and through Jane’s narration questions can be raised as to if any of the male characters in Jane Eyre match the “ideal Victorian male”. Male characters depicted in the novel such as John Reed, Rochester and St John Rivers appear to be greedy, dishonest, hypocritical and inconsistent within their ways. They break the ideal Victorian male characteristics and by the end of the novel the characteristics of a feminine hero outshines the male characteristics to create a new type hero for the time period. However, all three male characters in the novel contribute in Janes’ journey from childhood to adulthood and her transformation into a strong, heroic woman.
A child, who is raised within a family that caters for their every need and want, can often struggle to gain compassion, maturity and self worth. Master John Reed is the first domineering male character presented in Jane Eyre and it is clear that he is not the ideal Victorian male. After the loss of his father nine years before, John indulges in continually tormenting and bullying his cousin Jane. He is described as “disgustingly ugly” and having “heavy limbs and large extremities” and his behaviour is violent and aggressive. John is spoilt and strives off people’s weaknesses to make him feel powerful and intimidating “Now I’ll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me”. John shows how he thrives of a woman’s vulnerability and his overbearing gestures make him unlike the ideal Victorian male.
Jane is powerless to stop the violence “every nerve I had feared him” and her growing sense of injustice is emphasised by the constant use of rhetorical questions.