Feminism for a long period of time has become a controversial and prominent topic in most of the writings in our societies. In most of the novels such as Macbeth by Shakespeare and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, it is quite evident how this topic has grown to be a common topic for the society. Charlotte Bronte as the author of Jane Eyre brings out Jane Eyre as the main character in the novel and her struggles in the society which is dominated by men (78). This was the period of Victoria. Besides, the feminism idea in the novel comes in the class of boundaries and distinctions.
It is quite evident in the novel that Jane has got a feminist tone. This augurs well with the women of the current society who as well think that for long women have been discriminated because of their gender. Before the 19th century, there were fewer opportunities for the women, and they ended up being uneasy in the society. Lack of opportunities for education to women and how they were being alienated from the job chances in the field, rendered the females in the society with fewer life options, where they were to be house governess or housewives. In the contemporary world, a teacher may be viewed as an intellectual job as well as a job of a fair high class while during the period of Victoria a governess more than just a servant and received remuneration as she shared out the knowledge they had with others in the field (Kate and Kaplan 40). However, with a little class, security, and respect, it was easier for one to feel passionate, intelligent and with opinions just like Jane Eyre who should be considered for better treatment and remuneration. This occupation has got lots of insecurities since one’s preferences and feelings are not well regarded by others. In addition, these are the known characteristics of the job that Jane has to live with. Jane, nevertheless, chooses to be a governess in her society since it is her own reasonable way to arise in the society.
It is true that many people view Jane Eyre as the novel depicts feminism, but still there opinions that intention of the author, Charlotte Bronte was on the argument on the social structure of the society during the Victorian period (34). They support this notion by the use of female character with an intention of relating them with the main novel’s character, in bringing out the equality of women and males in the society (Zonana 56). Nonetheless, others who believe there is feminism depicted in the novel as the major theme support their arguments on how Jane respond to Rochester when he proposes to her in chapter 23 of the novel.
The novel portrays attempts by Bronte in raising the equality of women and men. Jane pursues individuality in the novel; she cannot afford being taken for just a machine. She believes that she would not do things based on conventionalism and the customs of the society rather than her own free will. This shows feminism since it breaks the bond that the society has taken the women for (Bronte 55). Consequently, it can be compared to the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare where Shylock, a Jewish descent man tries to prove to other people how he is not unique to others. He proves this by telling them even the Jews bleed when they are pricked just like the others, they all have got emotions and none is different (Zonana 599). Shylock describes how races are all equal in his popular speech. In the novel, Jane claims how she truly loves Rochester and how they are spiritually meant for one another. She tells Rochester how she should be treated the same way men get treated since they are all equal. This is the same situation to Shylock in the Merchant of Venice (Bronte 43). They bring it to an end when they talk about all them standing at the feet of God when they will finally die since they are equal.
Jane Eyre started experiencing challenging life while young. She lived a life where she was hated by her only relatives, and thus ended up growing with lots of anger. Similarly, she managed to overcome this hard life with all its difficulties (Bronte 67). Jane is exposed as a strong woman, the rare types of women in the society that even Blanche Ingram and other superficial female cannot afford. Jane can manage to comfort Mrs. Reed, an aunt who once mistreated after the death of her uncle and this is something that few people can afford doing in normal life situations (Kate and Kaplan 65). When her friend, Hellen dies she is not too much affected since she already learned how to deal with such situations. Later during her wedding with Rochester, she learns that he is legally married; she manages to control her feelings, something that even many men cannot afford doing. When she finally decides to walk away from Rochester, she feels betrayed, sad and remorseful but as a strong lady, she still manages to break free. Her break away from Rochester can be understood from different angles: an effort in taking the right pathway in life; as an enlightenment in religion; a show of power that women have managed to accumulate to an extent of resisting powers from men and this some women cannot find it easy doing.
The power of women is still reduced by emotion, as well as other human ability aspects. It is quite evident that it was not Jane’s strength that made her capable of walking away from Rochester since she grew too weak. She felt hopeless in life but she made a decision to wish for a better future, one that was glowing and booming bright. She grew bitter after all these had happened, and this affirms her belief in equality of both the two sexes (Zonana 596). They should receive equal treatment without minding their differences. Although this whole made Jane totally weak, it little affected Rochester. Many have argued that the author uses this part to reveal Jane’s feminine side to let readers clearly evaluate how to think of gender.
In conclusion, the novel can get different interpretations from various ways. However, it cannot be totally resolved if the author’s intention was to lay judgment on gender during the Victorian period and this is up to the reader to analyze. Many may understand the novel as that meant to criticize the gender roles of the Victorian period and others may understand it to a novel meant to show the everyday experiences that governess gets into when they find themselves loving men who are already married legally or illegally.
Charlotte, Bronte. “Jane Eyre. Beijing: Foreign Language Press” (2002).
Ellis, Kate, and E. Ann Kaplan. “Feminism in Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Its Film Versions.” Nineteenth-century Women at the Movies: Adapting Classic Women’s Fiction to Film (1999): 192.
Zonana, Joyce. “The Sultan and the Slave: Feminist Orientalism and the Structure of” Jane Eyre”.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 18.3 (1993): 592-617