Gender Roles in Jane Eyre

Topics: Social class, Governess, Jane Eyre Pages: 3 (1153 words) Published: March 17, 2014
To varying degrees, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre addresses the expectations of gender roles presently common in Victorian novels during the nineteenth century. Even in modern day society, the view of man tends to be aggressive, dominative, and ambitious, while women are portrayed as emotional, subservient, and sometimes passive. Bronte's depiction of the stereotypical male and female roles are accurate, but she also displays how one's gender can be altered. Jane, the novel's protagonist, is a cookie-cutout of what was expected of women in Victorian times. She dresses simply, is submissive, and longs for a male counterpart. As the story progresses, Jane shys away from conformities, but her willfulness to remain abnormal is tested when she endures heart-wrenching situations.

The novel opens, revealing the spirit and personality of Jane, as it experiences suppression when she questions why she is being punished. Mrs. Reed answers to Jane and tells her that it is unacceptable for a child to speak to an elder in that manner. The verbal attacks continue when Mrs. Reed's son, John Reed, angrily tells Jane that she is dependent and undeserving of the food and clothes that are provided at the expense of his mother. John Reed, then physcially attacks her, and Jane is locked away in the red room. She goes on to make an apparent point as to the unfairness of how she is being treated. "'Unjust! - unjust!' said my reason, forced by the agonizing stimulus into precocious though transitory power; and Resolve, equally wrought up, instigated some strange expedient to achieve escape from insupportable oppression- as running away, or, if that could not be effected, never eating or drinking more, and letting myself die" (Bronte 21 ). In this case, Jane's gender is not the reason she is being punished, it is more her childish nature. As she grows older, the same treatment remains for Jane, making this a prominent portion of the novel. It also is the setting stone for how women are...
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