Charlotte Bronte used many of her literary works, and especially Jane Eyre, as a means to question a gendered system of values and the role and functions women played in a society that was clearly male dominated. The titular character of Jane Eyre is meant to portray the negative consequences being controlled and suppressed by social norms can have on women. The class and age differences between the two characters serve as both an exaggeration and commentary on the extreme binary logic of Victorian gender relations. In Esther Godfrey’s article “Jane Eyre: Governess to Girl Bride,” she attempts to examine the fact that in Jane Eyre gender identities and performances are increasingly tied to material wealth and social status. She then draws parallels between this notion and the textual suggestions that only the middle and upper classes can afford the costly performance of gender. An example of this idea can be seen when Jane lived with the Reeds. The son, John Reed, makes it clear to Jane that she occupies a different social position when he tells her that “you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama’s expense” (Bronte, p. 7). This can be seen as evidence of Jane being made into a modern feminist in a Victorian world. With this being said, it becomes clear that what Bronte is attempting to do is to make Jane Eyre a modern feminist in the Victorian world. The upbringing Jane was subjected too left her with a strong desire for personal liberation and independence. In seeking this financial and personal independence, Jane even goes so far as to write to her wealthy uncle in hopes of some sort of inheritance so she could feel on equal footing with her husband through her marriage to Rochester. Godfrey follows this notion throughout the novel, making it extremely important to her argument. She looks at...
Bibliography: Brontë, Charlotte, Fritz Eichenberg, and Bruce Rogers. Jane Eyre. New York: Random House, 1943. Print.
Godfrey, Esther. "Jane Eyre: Governess to Girl Bride." JSTOR. Rice University, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. .
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