This sample essay on Women In Jane Eyre provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Bronte, was published in London in 1847. Similar to many novels of the time, it highlighted the many social and moral problems of the period. These included topics such as poverty, health, lack of education, treatment of children and, the aspect that is pointed out for the most part in Jane Eyre- the limited role and the attitude towards women.
Charlotte Bronte took great risk when she published Jane Eyre. In the period that Bronte lived, women were not expected to work, in fact, there was a strong feeling against women who worked.
Writing was also included in this, and many women writers used a male name when they published books merely so that the book would actually sell. When Bronte wrote Jane Eyre however, she used her own name, risking the popularity of the book.
The contents of Jane Eyre also put under great risk. As it was a male dominated society at the time, women had no say. They could not stand out against men. In Jane Eyre, men are represented as the bad, Mr. Brocklehurst, for example, treats the girls at Lowood School very badly, and he is a very typical male of the time.
He orders the girls at Lowood to have their hair cut off, to wear poor clothes, eat little, and this is very poor food.
Whereas his own daughters wear silk long dresses, the have long hair and are very well fed. Mr. Brocklehurst is an example of the poorness in education, the way children are treated, the gap between rich and poor and the male thought at the time towards others. Mr. Rochester when he is first met appears to be the most likely example of attitude towards women. He thinks, as the popular attitude went in that time, that women were an item, that they should be seen and not heard.
Indeed, he shows this by the false marriage he tries to trick Jane into, and then trying to buy her over with gifts and nice clothes. Using men to in a sense mock the attitude of the time Jane was again risking the books popularity and maybe even the book being published. The book shows greatly the treatment of women. It gives many examples of women in different positions and how they are treated and the power that they have. When a couple were married in this period, the man, in a way, was buying the woman and her possessions. She became his property. Along with her money, possessions, land maybe even children.
As they were not allowed to divorce until much later, the woman would have to stay with her husband until he died. The male in the relationship could get away with having an affair, but if the women ever tried it and was caught, she would be kicked out onto the street, losing money, power, status, and having nothing. In addition, if the woman tried to run away with her children it was thought of as kidnap, as the male owned the children. It was very rare for a woman to gain complete control over her husband’s property unless he passed away. This is the position that Mrs. Reed was in.
She owned all of her husband had taken when they married. However, marriages of upper class citizens were very rarely for love in that period. Women tried to marry someone of the same or higher social status than themselves, to increase their money and power. For a woman’s power was limited to her husbands control, influence, and wealth. When Jane meets Bessie before she goes to Thornfield, Bessie explains that miss Georgina met a young lord who she fell in love with but ‘his relations were against his match’ This means that he was not of high enough status to marry miss Georgina, and she was disallowed to wed him by Mrs. Reed.
Miss Ingram on the other hand, was of perfect social status to marry Mr. Rochester. She was of the same class as him, they were both rich and their families contained much power and wealth. Although Miss Ingram is merely marrying Mr. Rochester for his wealth, not his love, as Adele tells Jane. Higher-class women were usually those that could afford schooling with ease, but were those who did not need it. The women of these classes would be looked after their whole lives. They spend the first part of their lives under the protection of their own family wealth, living off this; they then are married and live off the wealth of their partner.
At no time in their lives do they need the level of schooling that they receive. The irony in this is that those who need it the most, i. e. the lower class citizens, cannot afford it. For the middle class women of the time, education was something that most could afford, but some could not. Nevertheless, for a woman of middle class who had little or no money of their own was able to choose between up to three things: to be financially dependant on a husband, living as a dependant in a house as a governess or the unpleasant job of teaching in a school, depending on whether or not she had received an education.
Women of this social status may have married for love a little more frequently than those who married in the higher classes. Jane fits very snugly into this category, as she gets an education of sorts, although being constantly bullied by the arrogant Mr. Brocklehurst; she then works as a teacher at Lowood, then moves to Thornfield to become a Governess. Charlotte Bronte illustrated these jobs as a protest that women of this status had so little choice of jobs. The bottom class of the social chain would have needed education the most out of all of three of the classes.
They had no money; therefore they could not afford to be educated. The bottom class women of society wound up in the very worst of jobs. They would have no other choice than to work in the factories or workhouses that were situated all over England of this period. Either that or they would have wound up on the bottom of the chain of servants in houses such as that of Mr. Rochester. Charlotte Bronte refers to this chain when Jane very first enters Thornfield. Mrs Fairfax tells Jane that she and her should not really associate themselves with the lower class servants.
Although being a servant herself, is considerably higher than others, as she I the woman employed to run the house when Mr. Rochester is away. She and Jane are more directly related to Mr. Rochester, as Jane is teaching his daughter, so they are seemingly higher up in the chain. The Hierarchy of servants was very common in large richer houses of the century. The top of the chain would consist of the wife of the house, as, she if she wished, she could take on this responsibility, as it was one of the few that they could.
The next would be the head servant (similar to Mrs. Fairfax), she would take instructions from the wife if the wife was not carrying them out herself. Then would be servants that headed a particular area of expertise, Head Cook, Stable master etc. Under them would be the lowest servants, those of the lowest class who were lucky enough to get a place in a house where they may have been able to stay or be paid a fair wage. The lowest class women would have jobs such as washing, changing beds and pillows, dusting etc, under the orders of the head servant.
Similar to Grace in Thornfield. The role and position of women has greatly changed since the period that charlotte Bronte lived. Jane Eyre is actually a fiction al autobiography of Charlotte Bronte’s life. From being treated badly at school, to being a teacher, Charlotte’s life is echoed in the book. Due to women’s rights acts and that men saw the unfairness in the way women were treated women now have equal rights in society. Jane Eyre is a very good social commentary of what life was like in the period of which Charlotte lived.