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Power And Privilege In Jane Eyre

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Power And Privilege In Jane Eyre
When one is placed in a position of disadvantage, he is given two choices, either to accept his lowly status or to transcend his role in society. In Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Jane is motivated rather than discouraged by the various forms of oppression inflicted upon her and those around her and uses this motivation to rise to a position of both power and privilege, two things that she has lacked since birth.
The odds of the world were against Jane before she even took her first breath. She was not just born a female, but born to a lower-class family in a patriarchal and hierarchal society. As if this ascribed status was not unfortunate enough, Jane’s parents died thus leaving her an orphan under the care of her wealthy but cruel aunt,
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The household also symbolizes the gap between the lower and upper classes as Miss Reed and her children live lavishly while alienating Jane from the family’s good fortune. This negligence inspires Jane to gain autonomy so that she will not have to depend on anyone; therefore, granting her the power to be in charge of her own happiness. Jane becomes “rebellious against the hierarchy that oppresses her” when Miss Reed locks her in The Red Room, the room that her uncle died in (Gilbert 342). Her dreams of defying the imprisonment of Gateshead begin to become a reality when she looks in the mirror of The Red Room and realizes that she no longer recognizes herself; therefore, she must take action before she completely loses her entire sense of self. Gateshead has taken its toll on Jane as she has converted to the Reed’s belief that “poverty . . . [is] synonymous with degradation” and thus chooses to live with the abusive Reed’s rather than the poor Eyre’s, a childhood belief that Jane shamefully reflects on as an

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