Jane Eyre: Bronte's Unique Relation To The Real World
In the Victorian age, women were expected to have appropriate behavior. Women were to be at home cleaning, nurturing children and cooking for their families. A woman was kept away and undermined by society. Queen Victoria was the role model for women of the nineteenth century, as she portrayed the ideal marital stability. Eventually, feminist actions arise in the Victorian age and women started making changes to their lively hoods. Rebellions on social views flow throughout the Jane Eyre novel and the person, with imagery, allegory, and symbolism. Jane Eyre is an orphan girl whose entire childhood is faced with brutality, cruelty, humiliation. No one seems to need her and she feels as though she doesn’t belong. She is faced with isolation, but the superficial factors that have made an appearance in her life, shape her morals and ethics as she gets older. Jane doesn’t let social class change who she is although it defined the nineteenth century. When society’s ethics and morals controvert what Jane believes is right, events in her life start to take a turn for the worst before becoming better.
Throughout the entire novel, the reader can see that society and class matter to most everyone. It defined who you were and how you will be treated by people. It is a lose-lose situation because characters that seem more intrigued by the idea of wealth and status, have misguided morals. Characters that suffer poverty to show their great morals are mocked as well. When Jane was younger, she was not left with much, “You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not live here with gentlemen’s children like us” (Bronte 14). This was an act of how social class determined how people would be treated and Jane specifically was constantly antagonized for her social class. Jane had no parents, and is kept in a home all day, due to that she is seen as less than a servant, “ How is he my master? Am I a servant? “, asking Ms. Abbot, “No, you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep”(Bronte 17). Jane was told this by Ms. Abbot– the maid. This is significant because Jane has no status; she was struck by John Reed and was punished for retaliating against him for the strike. Jane is neither middle-class nor higher than a servant; because the social class image is huge in the Victorian age, this is where she felt she didn’t belong anywhere. No matter where in the world you are, you will always be judged on your social class. Even the wealthy get judged. Bronte’s point in adding this theme
to her novel shows that real-world problems exist anywhere, and people will always look at you differently whether it is good or bad; your status determines what end side of the stick you will get. Although Jane was targeted most, she also showed hardly any fear, “Courage will guard thy heart from fear… We’ll pass, as God should please” (Bronte 141-142).
The supernatural theme in the novel is actually sort of like a paradox. There are few things in the novel that are supernatural but rather, events that might seem to be abnormal, bizarre, and weird. The events are explained in sensible situations. However, there is a twist, the abnormal gothic events become way more ominous than most things of this world. “…the strange little figure gazing at me, with a white face…had the effect of a real spirit” (Bronte 20). This was when Jane was locked in the red room after being punished for rebelling against her strike from John. She was younger than, but the older Jane who narrates the novel was ambitious to find a clear understanding as to what the shadow was that she had seen in that room. Ambition must have been a characteristic if Bronte herself because even in her poem “, she states, “ I feared not then fear not now;… In every nerve and bounding vein;… I feel as born again”(Bronte 36-37). Anyhow, the shadow was a figment of Janes stressed out
mind. Older Jane was determined to find a ghost in the Thornfield attic, but she was unsuccessful. The ghost she was trying to find was Bertha, and she was no ghost but she was a demon in Thornfield. Rochester also implied that Jane has theses fairy-like qualities in the way that she has enchanted his horse and her choice of wearing plain dresses and a quiet manner. The supernatural element was added in the novel so that the reader could interpret the character’s inner fears. An example of how this shows a characters inner fear is when Jane was in the so called red room and saw her uncles ghost, Mr. Reed, she started to scream and when the servants and Mrs. Reed went to scope the commotion, they refused to believe her so they lock her back into the room and Jane faints from installed fear and denial. Explaining how she came to collapse, “… impatient of my now frantic anguish and wild sobs…locked me in without further parley…I suppose I had a species of fit; unconsciousness closed the scene”(Bronte
24). Locking her away for days doesn’t seem too ethical does it. Furthermore, morality and ethics played a vast part in the novel. It was almost as if Bronte was trying to educate the reader. The characters demonstrate the struggles of their own related to their moral values. Although some characters give in to emotion, Jane stays true to herself and her beliefs on what is right from wrong. The moral decisions made by Jane were influenced by her childhood experiences. As a young girl with a Victorian role to play, she was always vocal about her opinions. For example, after John struck her and made her fall and bust open her head, she spoke out against the crime and said, “ Wicked and cruel boy…you are like a murderer “ (Bronte 15). Jane’s morals and the ethics of what others think is right, conflict in moments like when Jane felt she was religiously obligated to go on and marry St. John Rivers, but she wanted to marry Rochester for love, but she couldn’t go against her morals because she found he was already married. Society believed social standings determined your worth. Society also believed that the elders were wiser and should be respected no matter the reason. Jane, however, did not agree with the elders being wiser,”… I claim only such superiority…[the] result from twenty years’ difference in age and a century’s advance in experience” (Bronte 159). Jane believed claiming superiority should be based on the use you have made of the time and experiences you’ve had. Bronte believed it wasn’t hard to know right from wrong and when to know if a right decision is being made. In the novel, characters either choose to be happy or to be right. Jane always stuck to her principles through her life, she separated her happiness with morality. Once Jane found that Mr. Rochester had a wife, she leaves him although she was head over heels in love with him and they were soon to be married. Bronte teaches the reader never to lose self-respect under any circumstances; always know your worth, never doubt it. Jane would have made an unethical decision not in being a mistress, but rather being married to St. John Rivers. In one of Bronte’s poems “Regret”, Bronte states “ One loved voice, through surge and blast, Could call me back again !” (Bronte 23-24), knowing that in Jane Eyre Mr. Rochester was the man that Jane longed for and would eventually return for.
Although the novel is a romantic novel for women, it’s also seen as hypocritical and naïve. Themes I’ve listed in this paper have foil themes: “Hatred. Insurrection. Patriarchy’(Erin Blakemore). The story of the novel is something that most readers only dream of; with its passionate love and that spark of a lifetime readers are taught to desire. This was not the case for Bronte’s real life. A couple other listed critiques are: “misinformed, anti-Christian, slavery”(Lisa Sternlieb). With all these contradicting elements, there is also saying that the novel is unfit for the eyes of women and immoral which kind of puns the major morals and ethics theme of the novel. Jane Eyre might’ve been a touchstone for the nineteenth century women but through generations, each has viewed the book to best fit their time period. But, for the modern day reader, all the elements stated in this paragraph along with motherlessness, circus freakery, and colonialism have struck the issue of its ‘uneasy relationship love”(Erin Blakemore). With that being said, it is quite hypocritical given that this novel is based to center around “the obsessive love of a teenage governess and her decades-older boss”(Erin Blakemore).
Bronte brings realism into the novel when she portrays the role of the nineteenth-century woman. By bringing in social class values, morals, and ethics, the novel is a relatable story to readers. The character’s tones may be of those the reader has come across in real life. Tones like the mean family members and brutal cousins. Because the family was cruel to Jane, she never felt at home, “ LONG ago I wished to leave… Long ago I used to grieve” in her “Regret” poem she portrays herself the way she did Jane,” My home seemed so forlorn” (Bronte 1-4). Even in the novel, Janes feeling of isolation tied to the real life of Charlotte Bronte. Being judged on your social class and looked down upon still occurs today. Even the supernatural elements in the story seem to have rational explanations which make the events more recognizable or relatable. “ … the world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, [like that of seeing her uncles ghost]…sensations and excitements, waited those who had courage to go forth…to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils” (Bronte 116). That last quote is very important into partaking the element of realism because growing up, you were always told that the world is full of endless possibilities and it always stays filled with new knowledge. Bronte uses realism to amplify the themes of the novel as well as to represent the neglected corruption of the era. Bronte carried out the themes of the novel very well. She presented features of her own life and values. Bronte used Jane Eyre to deliver real-life issues and oppression. Attitude, behavior, social manner where attributed to the novel through the character tones and conflicting events. She has made it in a way that the reader can interpret the elements and take them in as however it is perceived to them. Because of the cruel events that occurred in Jane’s life, she grew to be an independent, strong-minded women. All the cruelty caused her to have a negative outlook, but Helen taught her that you should treat others the way you would like to be treated. She grew out of being the sorry little dependent that was ungrateful; at least that’s how the characters viewed her as, and she became something of herself. Each time that Jane made the right decision, conflict arose. Bronte’s Jane Eyre novel exemplified real-world problems since the Victorian era to the present day and real person tone through major imagery and symbolism.