Jane Eyre Beauty Standards

1080 Words 5 Pages
Women in Victorian England desired to fit the standards of beauty enough that they would drink vinegar, eat chalk, and apply an arsenic based medication to give them a translucent skin tone fit for society. Standards for the ideal woman included a beautiful physical appearance, a certain level of knowledge and a high level of obedience. The expectations of an ideal woman create an impenetrable mold that women cannot break from, causing them to take drastic actions. Jane Eyre fights these standards by defying all of the expectations and still maintaining a decent lifestyle. Through this essay, I will examine the preset standards for the ideal woman through physical appearance, obedience and knowledge set forth in Victorian England, and the contradictions …show more content…
She is constantly compared to her cousins, Miss Ingram, and many others, making her always fall second. Her cousin, St. John states, “She would always be plain,” (Brontë 289), which solidifies Jane’s identity as a plain woman. She says that she wishes to look her best, “as much as [her] want of beauty would permit” but also feels unfortunate. A lady’s maid, Miss Abbot, addresses Jane’s physical appearance in this statement "If she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness, but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that” (Brontë 21). Miss Abbot felt no pity for Jane 's situation in an unloving, abusive household because she is "a little toad" (Brontë 21). They compare Jane to an animal they see as dirty and ugly for her differences in appearance and behavior. Bessie, a maid in the household, replies to Abbot’s comment stating “A beauty like Miss Georgiana would be more moving in the same condition” (Brontë 21), proves that it is a shared opinion. Bessie believes that Miss Georgiana has an advantage purely based off of her physical features. The physical beauty is the most influential part of a woman, as shown by the comparison of Jane and Georgiana. Bessie and Abbot agree that Georgiana is more beautiful, so she deserves a …show more content…
The use of cosmetics was very limited, but also necessary in some cases. There was a fine line drawn for the acceptable amount of make-up. Make-up was often “associated with prostitution,” (Romm, 3). Women did not know whether to stay away from cosmetics and the possible adverse effects or to use it to “enhance their beauty,” (Romm, 3). Beauty guides from the era advertised this statement “No refined lady would be caught dead with the devil’s trickery on her face,” (Caitlin L). These conflicting views made it harder for women to become ideal in the eyes of society. To achieve the desirable level of paleness women would use extreme products to maintain a “translucent skin tone” (Romm, 3). Many used lead based paints to cover their faces, or an arsenic based medication to be used as a face cream to produce the desired skin tone. However, the upper class woman chose “ingesting arsenic, chalk, slate, or tea grounds” to maintain their looks (Caitlin L). These products would seep through the skin, or just be ingested, and the poisonous chemicals would be put into their blood streams. Throughout her life, Jane seems to lack the use of make-up. Her lower class standing makes it harder for her to obtain any make-up, but she is uninterested in using any products to enhance her beauty. Her physical appearance does not meet the standards set, but she makes no major efforts to

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