Victorian Novel Villians and Villianesses Essay

2796 Words 12 Pages
Clare Whitehead.

Write about the ways in which three of the Victorian novels you have read make use of villains and / or villainesses in their plots.

The villains and villainesses in the following novels demonstrate the class struggle in society that existed in the Victorian era and that still exists today. The upper class who are described by Marx as ‘the bourgeois’ which (cited in Hamilton) he goes on to describe as; ‘the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labour’ (1991 p.57) have the power in society. The working class or what Marx refers to as ‘the proletariat’ which (cited in Hamilton) he goes on to describe as; ‘the class of modern wage labourers who having no means of
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It could be said that this is evidence of Mrs Reed’s desire as a member of the ‘bourgeois’ to ensure that ‘wealth remains concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority’ (Eagleton 1996 p.170) which would ensure that she retains her hierarchal position in society.

John Reed allows the reader to see the power that comes with wealth. Jane tells the reader that he ‘bullied and punished me not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, but continuously’ (1992 p.5). The status that John has been given allows him to do this and shows the ‘relative powerlessness’ (Marshall 1988 p.143) of the lower classes. It is John that bullies Jane but it is her who is punished, which demonstrates the ‘struggles for social justice’ (David 2001 p.11) by the poor. Jane is treated badly because she has no money and John tells her that; ‘you have no business to take our books … you have no money, your father left you none; you ought to beg and not live here with gentleman’s children like us’ (1992 p.6). He is only a child and yet is already aware of the ‘emerging systems of social classification’ (David 2001 p.12). He also tells Jane Eyre to ‘say what do you want Master Reed’ (1992 p.5) when he asks her a question. John feels superior to Jane and this behaviour is evidence of the ‘advantages which privilege bestows (David 2001 p.17).

Eventually Jane is sent to

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