The 19th century was a troublesome period of time for women to live in. They were not given rights and were told to be quiet and proper by the cold lips of society. A woman born at the time decided to silently spread her ideas advocating change by writing a book as feminism started to blossom. Charlotte Bront? magnificently pieced together a novel, Jane Eyre, about life through the eyes of a woman living in her time. The purpose of Bront?s autonomous heroine was to tell society how women were and should be treated.
During her century, women had to fit into the standards like dough in a cookie-cutter. Women were told to be prim and gentle to balance out harsh men and were not to disobey or defy any male figure in their life. At the time, a True Woman was expected to serve as the protectress of religion and civilized society (Cruea 188). When educated, they would only learn feminine topics.
They would enrich themselves by [drawing] beautiful paintings of landscapes and flowers by them executed; of songs they could sing, and pieces they could play, of purses they could net, of French books they could translate (Bront? 32). As much as it is beneficial to learn, these subjects are not as necessary as topics that were only exclusive to males, such as history and literature. The greatest achievement a woman during the time could accomplish was to be beautiful. If she was attractive, rich men would want to marry her.
Many aspects of their lives proved that the life of a Victorian woman was restricted (Tiainen 54). Bront? exceedingly opposed the concepts that women were forced to follow.
From the beginning of the novel, Bront? told her readers that education is essential. As mentioned previously, women were told not to be as knowledgeable as men. In the event that they were equally educated, they would be overpowering men. A perfect example of this is illustrated when John Reed, her cousin, found Jane reading. His reaction was the volume was [being] flung [at Jane] (Bront? 15). Clearly, it displays that females at the time were ruthlessly treated in the event of being educated. As they start to bicker again, Jane reveals that she had read Goldsmiths History of Rome (Bront? 15). Acquiring this new information, John excitedly decides to tattle to his mother about it since she would be in trouble. Being the protagonist of the story, Janes positive traits is telling the reader that the author approves women being more knowledgeable.
Bront? believes that women should be autonomous. As mentioned previously, women had to listen to their higher power who were usually men. However, Jane is very defiant with people who do her injustice. Whether it was a male or female, she was not discriminant and spoke up for what she believed in. When Jane enters Lowood, she befriends a girl named Helen Burns. Although they become friends, Jane does not hesitate when she strongly disagrees with such meek tolerance of injustice. Jane informs Helen that she must dislike those who punish me unjustly (Bront? 70). Nevertheless, since it is not how women were instructed to behave, Jane was reprimanded constantly for speaking up. Bront? makes this a constant quality of Jane which shows that she wants women to follow her.
Along with being able to speak their mind, Bront? believes that women should be able to act upon their own free will. Women, in the 19th century, were told to be obedient and hushed in the eyes of men. However, Jane was not like all the other women. She spoke what she thought and behaved accordingly. With Mr.Rochester, even though she was falling in love, she stated that I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will (Bront? 297). Jane always followed what she believed, no matter who the person she was defying was. Through Janes words, Bront? advises her readers that women should be to act upon their own accord.
A womans greatest achievement, at the time, was to be pretty. A womans beauty was especially important because it was the cause of marriage. If a woman was extraordinarily beautiful, she would be able to marry higher in class. However, Bront? strongly disagrees with the concept and illustrates it through Mr.Rochesters previous marriages. Mr.Rochester keeps his first wife locked away under the care of Grace Poole because according to him, Bertha Mason is mad (Bront? 340). According to Mr.Rochester, she as mentally unstable and insane which is why he sent her upstairs. In his second marriage, he was happily married to French opera dancer and mother of his daughter, Ad?le. However, one evening he saw my charmer thus come in accompanied by a cavalier (Bront? 171). Mr.Rochester found out C?line Varens had an affair and cheated on him. Both marriages were based on looks, as Mr.Rochester describes them both as beautiful women, but neither of them worked. However, Mr.Rochester was attracted to Jane for her feisty personality that he admired so deeply. Bront? is stating that marriage should not be based off of beauty but rather character and love.
Bront? stressed how important love was throughout the journey of Mr.Rochester and Jane. Since the first day Jane met Mr.Rochester, she thought that he was unattractive. When he sprained his ankle, she thought about if he [had] been a handsome, heroic-looking young gentleman, (Bront? 135), she would not help him. Therefore, she was never attracted to his looks and had not intended to love him (Bront? 207). However, his friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he treated me, drew me to him (Bront? 175). Mr.Rochester was unattractive but his open and honest personality is what made her love him. Even when Mr.Rochester lost an eye, his sight, and a hand from a fire Bertha made, Jane loved him. In addition, Jane had the chance of marrying her cousin, St.John, who offered to take her to India with him but she denied him because she did not love him. Mr.Rochester and Janes marriage was not based on beauty but love, and it worked.
Bront? published Jane Eyre when the first wave of feminism hit. Some women starting speaking about gender equality around the 1850s. They had different ways of displaying their thoughts. Bront? used writing to express her ideas of promoting change with the treatment and standards for women. Jane was seen as a rebellious indecent woman in the eyes of society. However, according to the reader, who knew about her life, she was a heroine as she steadfastly overcame obstacles that were in her way, men. The purpose of having an autonomous heroine was to declare to society that those type of women should be accepted.