Women and the Poor in Victorian England in Jane Eyre Essay

2316 Words 10 Pages
How does Bronte explore the position of women and the poor in
Victorian England throughout her novel Jane Eyre?

Jane Eyre was Charlotte Bronte’s first successful novel. Published in
1847, Bronte presents us with critique of Victorian assumptions regarding social class and gender. Way ahead of its time, Charlotte
Bronte (or publicly none as Currer Bell), caused much commotion critically. In her novel Bronte explores many issues of Victorian society such as women’s stature both generally and amongst poor in the
19th century. She also explores patriarchal male domination, and the segregation and unspoken restrictions between the different classes and stations.

Society in Britain in the 19th century was very different to today’s
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Unfortunately soon after, Jane’s Uncle
(the Reed children’s father) died, leaving Jane’s connections with the
Reed family lost but her burden upon them still present. Mrs. Reed, the mistress of Gateshead Hall, widens the gap between Jane and her cousins as she has brought up her children to be continually aware that Jane is a constant dependent on them, therefore influencing her children’s unsociable attitude towards her, “you are a dependent mamma says; you have no money”.

In addition to the constant exclusion, her eldest and only male cousin, John Reed, is a persistent bully to Jane throughout her time at Gateshead verbally: “bad animal!” and physically; ”he struck suddenly and strongly”. At this time this type of behaviour was common in society but was rarely referred to, either in the spoken or written form; the brutal exposure to the bullying issue was maximized by
Bronte’s vivid wording, “I instinctively started aside with a cry of alarm”. Jane’s passionate rebellion against the mistreatment intensified the situation as it was regarded as an unfeminine trait.
Another issue exploited through this first opening chapter of violence is that John was part of the patriarchal society- the male domination although this was very much the norm of Victorian society. Bronte chooses to explore male brutality further and the women who suffered the brunt of it. What was worse though that shocked many more was
Jane’s

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