Views, Values and Contexts Essay on "Jane Eyre"

Good Essays
Jane Eyre is primarily a critique of social elitism. Discuss.

Charlotte Brontë’s novel, Jane Eyre was produced in the Victorian era, when social elitism was in its prime and there was great segregation between the upper and lower estates. The former was composed of the clergy and nobility and was defined by wealth, privileges and lavish lifestyles. The middle class, conversely, were the most frustrated by the exclusiveness of the upper estate. Possessing skill, intelligence and assertiveness, they believed that rank and power should derive from talent and merit, rather than from noble birth. Through the demonisation and infliction of a tragic downfall upon “Master Reed”, Brontë condemns the life of pleasure and honour, the lifelong inactivity so heavily indulged by those born into the aristocracy. By characterising Mr Brocklehurst as excessively and hypocritically pious, Brontë highlights the upper clergyman’s propensity to masquerade as a great nobleman, rather than to exercise the competence and benevolence integral to his role. Finally, Brontë implements a love of “servitude” and disdain for a “still … doom”, as well as the ambiguous social position of a governess in her protagonist, Jane Eyre, rendering her an agent for the middle class’ philosophy on worthiness of privilege. Ultimately, Brontë’s Jane Eyre calls for the reformation of the Victorian social structure as the extremities involved in social elitism ignore the inherent needs of man.

Jane’s antipathy for the fourteen-year-old John Reed is manifested in her description of his “disgusting and ugly [outer] appearance”, namely his “heavy limbs”, “large extremities”, “thick lineaments” and “dingy[,] … unwholesome skin”. Although this description is an embodiment of Jane’s totally engrossing hatred of “Master Reed”, such physical repugnance foreshadows an inward “ugl[iness]”. This is demonstrated as he reprimands Jane for being “a dependent” and prescribes her “to beg” and “not to live” amongst

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Jane Eyre Response Paper

    • 611 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Most societies during the mid-nineteenth-century believe wealth and power meant self-righteousness or morality, resulting in lower-class citizens being judged as problematic and unrighteous. This idea promotes some to think that people with money and in a high social class were the most righteous and moral. In her book Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte writes to challenge the representation of heroism as wealth and power, instead posing that true heroism comes from overcoming trials and showing good-will; therefore, Jane Eyre displays true heroism as she overcomes discrimination and poverty, while achieving integrity.…

    • 611 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Jane Eyre Ap Question

    • 855 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Women who had no claim to wealth or beauty received the harshest of realities in America’s Victorian era. Author Charlotte Bronte – from America’s Victorian era – examines and follows the life of a girl born into these conditions in her gothic novel Jane Eyre (of which the main character’s name matches the title). Jane Eyre’s lack of wealth and beauty fill her life with hardship from the biased and unrealistic standards of her Victorian society.…

    • 855 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Controversy of Jane Eyre

    • 1356 Words
    • 6 Pages

    In the novel Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte portrays one woman 's desperate struggle to find her identity in the mist of temptation, isolation, and impossible odds. Although Jane may process a strong will to survive she still has to fight the forces of passion and reason within herself. When Jane Eyre was first published, it outraged many people at the time because of its realistic portrayal of life during that particular time. The controversy that surrounded the novel stemmed from the way Bronte challenged the roles of women, religion and mortality in the Victorian era.…

    • 1356 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    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.…

    • 1697 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    In the first few opening chapters Jane Eyre is seen as a mentally and physically abused child, during her years at Gateshead Hall. John Reed displays violence towards Jane in the first chapter. He punishes and bullies Jane; it is not known why the Reed family resent her so much. Her situation is seen as desperate within the first few paragraphs. Her cousins and Aunt make her life impossible and unbearable, she is not seen as a member of the family. Jane is simply seen as ‘’less than a servant’’ as she does ‘’nothing for her keep’’.…

    • 1139 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Best Essays

    Throughout Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Jane’s ambiguous social class is often a problematic force within the novel. One mechanism with which Bronte attempts to elucidate Jane’s standing during certain episodes in the novel may be the appearances of food strewn throughout the book. The particular foods provided to Jane – specifically bread and porridge – as well as the providers of the sustenance and the varied contexts in which they are given to Jane, indicate that Jane’s social class is somewhat malleable and can rise and fall with the presence of certain interactions, interactions that can be characterized as positive or negative for Jane’s position relative to the rest of British society based on the type of food given to her.…

    • 1827 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Best Essays
  • Good Essays

    ‘Bronte reflects the Victorian class system’ How far and in what ways do you agree with this view?…

    • 515 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Jane Eyre Practice Essay

    • 800 Words
    • 3 Pages

    In Jane Eyre Bronte presents a vivid image of a strong, independent young woman living in Victorian England. Discuss this statement.…

    • 800 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Within the troubled childhoods of our protagonists particular importance is often placed upon the parental figures with in there early lives. Within ‘Jane Eyre’ Mrs Reed and Mr Brocklehurst are the most notable examples of this. Mrs. Reed and Mr. Brocklehurst both take the needy in to their care, but do not take care of them. Mrs. Reed abuses Jane and allows her children, especially her son, John to abuse her behind her back. Mr. Brocklehurst is far worse and attempts to justify himself through the farce of education, justifying his cruelty by claiming that his ‘aim is not to pamper the body but strengthen the soul’. Whilst both appear at first glance to be generous benefactors, they are in fact disguising a rotten core- this acts as an interesting metaphor for the corruption within the class system- and is a continuing theme throughout the novel, as we later notice the wealthy exterior of Thornfield disguises a dark secret. Similarly Annette also experiences injustice with in her childhood from people in positions of guardianship and authority; the most notable example being Annette, her mother. It is Annette’s cruelty and her mysterious death that creates much of the interest with in the novel. An example of this indifference is when Annette wishes to leave Jamaica and comments ‘It is not safe for Pierre’, in this moment it is as if Annette forgets…

    • 1298 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The novel ‘Jane Eyre’ highlights the idea of social class and the position of women in society. It tells the story of how protagonist Jane progresses through different social classes in life, beginning as the low position of an orphan and ending in the higher position of being both wealthy and married. Charlotte Bronte’s own social background was that of being relatively middle class as she was the daughter of a clergyman, which may have impacted on Jane’s attitude towards the ranks of society: it is shown at many points in the novel that social classes are unfair and prejudiced. Austen presents a similar view in ‘Pride and Prejudice’, though eventually her novel’s outcome shows that love is more powerful than rank, whereas Jane’s happy ending is not so simply achieved.…

    • 1746 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    A person’s character is shaped by the people he/she has met along with the places he/she has been. While growing up it is hard to recognize how one’s moral code is shaping and forming. In the gothic novel, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte writes as if she is an older, matured Jane. She reminisces on her past and the people who affected her. Each place that Jane ventures to throughout the novel accompanies people who will largely impact the type of person she becomes. Jane’s moral growth can be seen by analyzing her experiences at Gateshead, Thornfield, and Moor house.…

    • 925 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    “The men in the novel are all repressive patriarchs. For them, male supremacy must be absolute.” In the light of this comment, discuss Bronte’s presentation of male characters in ‘Jane Eyre’.…

    • 2917 Words
    • 12 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Jane’s life was full of strife and hardship, and she had many more mountains to climb than the other characters in Jane Eyre; but in the end, she had a life she was happy with. Jane’s struggles started very early in her life, she was orphaned and had to live with her abusive aunt. Jane’s aunt was rough, callous and unforgiving with Jane, as were her kids. When Jane turned ten years old, her aunt shipped her off to a school called Lowood. Jane at first was content with the change for she wouldn’t have to deal with the pain and fear that came along with living with her aunt, but her stay at Lowood did not go as she would’ve expected. At Lowood, Jane made a good friend by the name of Helen, but Helen soon fell ill and died. Jane stayed at Lowood…

    • 252 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good 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
  • 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