Jane Eyre and Upward Mobility of Women
Jane Eyre was written based on Victorian society. The following thesis will focus on the topic of marriage, social and economic standings, and upward mobility during a time of socially suppressed women. The position of women is seen in Jane Eyre is shown accurately when she deals with her struggles in Victorian society. As a woman during her time, Jane must live up to strict expectations of society. Women were seen as inferior to men during this time and only through marriage did they hope to gain power and upward mobility. Typically, upper class women in the Victorian Era were married to men in their own social class to ensure wealth and status. When Jane becomes a governess, she endured a more rigid part of upper class society’s expectations than when she was in the lower class at Lowood. Through social norms, she is inferior to men until the end of the novel. For example, at Moor House, she is under the direct control of St. John Rivers; and even at Thornfield, she is in a submissive position to Mr. Rochester as a governess. Throughout the book, Jane has to break free from the inferior positions so she can achieve independence from the men in her life. Jane finally reaches her freedom as a suppressed Victorian woman when her uncle leaves her his fortune. From this, Jane is finally able to marry Mr. Rochester as an equal. This utopic ending for Jane is an accurate depiction of women in the Victorian era when they are
dealing with economic differences and upward mobility through marriage. As Jane spends her time as a governess at Thornfield, it brings up the theme of a social class and upward mobility. While it is a step up from her social position at Lowood as a poor orphan, Jane still holds a vague class standing. During her stay at Thornfield, Jane learns how to act as an aristocrat like Rochester including her mannerisms, sophistication, and education. However, as a governess, she is still below that of an aristocrat and is on par with the servants in the house and was paid for her position. As soon as the story shifts, Jane and Rochester develop feelings for each other. Jane starts to feel the social tension between the two social-economic classes from this new relationship. Their relationship shows that they are somewhat equally social but at the same time she is reminded that she is a governess, making them unequal. Realizing this at the beginning of her time at Thornfield, she knows that it is impossible to marry Rochester because in the Victorian era, women of lower class were not typically married to upper class men. Jane’s definition of marriage means equality between two partners where they are socially equals, not economic social but just socially in general with mutual respect. During her time as a governess at Thornfield, Rochester treats her as an equal even though she is inferior to Rochester because he is her employer and is also economically superior to her. Mrs. Fairfax expresses her concerns when she first meets Jane when she said, “one can’t converse with [the servants] for fear of losing one’s authority” (Brontë, 82). It is later cleared up that Mrs. Fairfax is not really the master but Rochester is. Jane comments later after finding relief in realizing that Mrs. Fairfax is a housekeeper: “This affable and kind little widow was no great dame, but a dependent like myself. I did
not like her worse for that; on the contrary, I felt better pleased than ever. The equality between her and I was real; not the mere result of condescension on her part: so much the better- my position was all the freer” (Brontë, 85). Despite still feeling inferior to Rochester at some points in the novel, she still takes relief in knowing that Mrs. Fairfax is on her side and is an equal to her due to social and economic standing. While Mr. Rochester and Jane do have chemistry between them, Mrs. Fairfax’s words are still present and true. Mr. Rochester cannot converse...
Bibliography: Web. 1 May 2014.
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