Consequences Of Class Women In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre (1847) predicts two possible outcomes of a woman’s future during the eighteenth century. Jane, the protagonist, represents a positive outcome of a woman who could have easily “fallen” because she is saved by a man’s protection and her class status – both provided her uncle’s money. Though Jane’s piety contributes to her ability to refrain from less than savory activities, it is her class that affords her the freedom to follow her religious beliefs – through autonomy. A woman’s class status could make or break the outcome of her life, and unfortunately, many lower class women were forced into prostitution, becoming mistresses, or subjected to worse treatment. In Jane Eyre, Jane teeters on the verge of becoming …show more content…
Without protection of a father or uncle, Jane’s life could have ended up very differently than where it does. Mary Poovy’s article “The Anathematized Race: The Governess and Jane Eyre” argues: “Jane is vulnerable to Rochester’s advances because, as his employee, she lacks both social peers and the means to defend herself against her attractive, aggressive employer” (136). He manipulates her because of that attraction and because she is a middle-class governess, and he has all of the power. She is susceptible to his whims; what if she had refused and he had gotten violent or turned her out? He is overbearing and places her in uncomfortable situations, but governess work was far and few between, according to Poovy, and Jane’s options were limited (127). Jane wouldn’t have had to means to take him to court, should some type of physical abuse occurred – must like the daughter of the sailor. Her class status as a governess severely limits Jane’s authority over her own life and in response to Rochester’s …show more content…
– You will not be my comforter, my rescuer? – My deep love, my wild woe, my frantic prayer, are all nothing to you?” (Bronte 271). He uses his words to try and manipulate Jane. He appeals to the ideals of a woman of the time – who is supposed to be a moral compass for her male companions, just like the sailor’s daughter is for her father. Rochester knows what a governess is supposed to be like – yet he asks her to abandon those morals in favor of becoming a fallen woman. If he knew or loves Jane, he wouldn’t have asked her to commit to such a betrayal of her own beliefs. Poovy talks about the dangers that come with being a governess: “Two of the figures to which the governess was repeatedly linked begin to suggest why her sexlessness seemed so important – and so unreliable – to her contemporaries. These figures are the lunatic and the fallen woman” (129). But as Poovy points out, Jane is neither of these two. Instead, she is able to resist the temptation and appeal of Rochester to move away from him in his attempts to make her his mistress. Rochester knows what would happen to her should he decide that he doesn’t wish to remain attached to her. Therefore, as a governess, her class makes her prey for her employer where she has no authority or control over the situation. She is totally in his control if she wishes to remain in his house. When she

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