Gender Roles in the Victorian Era
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: English Literature|
|✅ Wordcount: 887 words||✅ Published: 8th May 2017|
Jane Eyre, the heroine of the novel portrays the ideal female of Victorian Society. She is passive, simple minded, dresses simply, and emotional hopes for her male love. The novel immediately opens which Jane’s human spirit questioning Mrs. Reed for what purpose she is being punished, to which she replies, ” Jane, I don’t like cavilers or questioners: besides, there is something truly forbidding, in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent” (Brontë, 29 ). Mrs. Reed’s son, John Reeds, criticizes Jane with anger, “you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money your father left you none; you ought to beg” (Brontë , 32 ). Jane is soon attacked by John Reed, but as a result of her retaliation, is sent to the Red Room barred from society. The treatment she received as a child continues to demonstrate the roll of females during Victorian Society. Brontë describes Jane as a physically small individual with the physiognomy of a child even though she becomes a teacher at Lowood and the governess at Thornfield. Brontë’s incorporates Janes Eyre’s appearance to demonstrate that women are treated by society like they are irresponsible, dull-minded children. As Jane becomes a governess of Thornfield, she meets the owner, Mr. Rochester, a Byronic hero, with whom she quickly falls for and desires to marry him. She realizes it would be forbidden by society for her, a simple governess to wealthy man, Rochester. Jane continues to remind herself of her distinct nature, “Don’t make the object of your fine feelings, your raptures, agonies, and so forth. He is not your order: keep to your case; be too self-respecting to lavish the love of the whole heart, soul, and strength, where such a gift is not wanted and would be despised” (Brontë, 180). Brontë demonstrates the mindset of low-class Victorian era women; destroy all hopes of true happiness and remember her gender limitations. This further prevents her from finding happiness in a man’s arms. Mr. Rochester on the other hand has the ability to guide Jane into his arms, which portrays the role of men during the Victorian era.
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Mr. Rochester, the Byronic hero of the novel, easily manipulates Jane Eyre to love him. Rochester is often moody but can easily show affection to Jane, “”He kissed me [Jane Eyre] repeatedly” (Bronte, 271). The reader becomes aware that Rochester may have had sexual encounters with numerous women in the past. Upon learning Adele, is “”the daughter of a French opera-dancer, Céline Varens, towards whom he had once cherished what he called a grande passion” (Bronte, 159), Bronte, depicts how men during the Victorian era could do anything they pleased. As a male in Victorian Society, he is dominating, educated, and ambitious in pursuing Jane Eyre to become his wife. Rochester plays multiple devilish tricks on Jane for her to fall for him. For one, he talks constantly about his marriage to another, extremely beautiful women, Blanche, “I am sure I shall not be able to sleep. Will you [Jane Eyre] promise to sit up with me to bear me company? To you I can talk of my lovely one” (Brontë, 235). Rochester again plays a trick by disguising himself as a gypsy woman. He tells Jane, “If you knew it, you are peculiarly situated: very near happiness; yes; within reach of it” (Brontë, 214). Rochester’s intentional mingling of Jane’s heart portrays the role of men in the nineteenth century. Brontë reveals to the reader that men of the Victorian Era could easily control their emotions to achieve anything they wished to desire much like Rochester plays with Jane’s heart for amusement and benefits. Bronte portrays a disruption in gender balance in the novel through the use of Bertha Mason.
Bertha Mason, the antithesis of Jane Eyre, represents disruption in gender balance. Mason is insane, free-spirited, and challenges any ideal that comes in her way. Victorian Era women are quiet, passive, and loyal; Bertha is physically large, violent, and aggressive as displayed on her first appearance, “the lunatic sprang and grappled his [Rochester] throat viciously, and laid her teeth to his cheek. She was a big woman, in stature almost equaling her husband, and corpulent besides: she showed virile force in contest” (Bronte, 307). Due to her behaviors, Bertha is secluded from society, to live in a hell like room until death. Bronte reveals to readers, that Victorian era women were a disgrace to society if they were not the ideal female. Through Bertha Mason, Bronte is able to accurately portray the inhumane nature disgraceful females were forced to live in.
Characters in Jane Eyre demonstrate the gender roles expected of males and females in Victorian society. Jane represents the ideals of females while Rochester depicts the ideals of men; Bertha Mason, the antithesis of Jane, represents turmoil in gender balance and must be secluded from society. Through these characters, Bronte effectively outlines gender roles, in a successful effort to express the nature in which society judges individuals based on misogynistic principles.
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