A feminist is a person whose beliefs and behavior are based on feminism (belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes). Jane Eyre is clearly a critique of assumptions about both gender and social class. It contains a strong feminist stance; it speaks to deep, timeless human urges and fears, using the principles of literature to chart the mind’s recesses. Thus, Jane Eyre is an epitome of femininity – a young independent individual steadfast in her morals and has strong Christian virtues, dominant, assertive and principled.
That itself is no small feat. Firstly, Jane Eyre is a young woman who faces hardships with great determination. Raised by Mrs. Reed, a cruel aunt, she is sent to Lowood, a bleak charity school run by the tyrannical Mr. Brocklehurst, where she endures a lonely and sad life. ?Human beings must love something, and, in the dearth of worthier objects of affection, I contrived to find a pleasure in loving and cherishing a faded graven image, shabby as a miniature scarecrow.
Jane faces the prospects of a young woman lacking the social advantages of family, money, and beauty, and therefore especially vulnerable to the fascination of admiration and security. Jane endures so much suffering through out the novel – Jane suffers through the cruel treatment of Lowood because her aunt wants to punish her for her rebelliousness, she suffers heartbreak for her attempt to marry her beloved Rochester, and suffers an estrangement from St. John when she chooses to uphold her belief that marriages should be for love and not for convenience.
Despite the pain her choices bring her, she manages to maintain her independence in the face of these overwhelming powers over her. And despite the “happy” ending when she is reunited with Mr. Rochester, it is not love but courage that defines her character. Secondly, Jane Eyre is an independent individual. She completes her schooling, and spends two years teaching, as well. After Miss Temple marries, Jane realizes that she has a great desire to leave Lowood, to see more of the world, and to better her living position. She becomes a governess ? plain and hard-working governess.
She believes that “Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.
It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex. As a great friendship and affection grow for Jane and Mr. Rochester, Jane notices that Rochester wishes to shower her in jewels, buy her fancy dresses, raise her up to some impossible image of the bride or woman, which does not suit her at all. This new treatment feels unequal, as Rochester would pay for her completely, she feels too dependent on him, and not her own woman. Jane acknowledges that she makes Rochester promise to let her continue on as Adeles governess and being paid for that so that they are equal, or as she puts it:
By that I shall earn my board and lodging, and thirty pounds a year besides. I’ll furnish my own wardrobe out of that money, and you shall give me nothing but your regard: and if I give you mine in return the debt will be quit. ” Jane’s views on this affair are extremely feminist when taken out of past perspective. In actuality, she attempt to not change the power dynamics of her relationship with Rochester, to be paid for work, instead of becoming his object or property. But she admits later: “My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven.
He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for his creature: of whom I had made an idol. ” Jane feels the difference easily though, finally making Rochester promise not to buy her anything, but that she will continue to take care of Adele when they marry, and he will continue to pay her for this work, she will earn her keep and buy her own clothes, so that she is his equal, and nothing of these power subject and gender treatment will change.
This goes well with Jane completely and she is greatly happy to have him calling her rude and playful descriptions once again. Her self-respect is most important to her, and this theme dominates the novel. Moreover, Jane is dominant, assertive and lives according to her values.
Though Jane is nothing more than an impoverished governess, she can retort to her haughty employer Rochester: “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? – You think wrong! ” And there are no deceit between Jane and Mr. Rochester; rather they converse as almost equals even though they are of different classes and Mr. Rochester is over twenty years Jane’s superior in age.
In many ways, Mr. Rochester speaks to Jane rudely and sharply; he is commanding in nature and often very diminutive toward her although never in a nasty manner. She criticizes him though, that he is no superior for age or experience but rather because she is a paided governess in his charge.
When asked if she feels he is handsome, she blurts without even thinking first: “–‘No, sir. ‘ Ah! By my word! There is something singular about you,’ said he: ‘you have the air of a little nonnette; quaint, quiet, grave, and simple, as you sit with your hands before you, and your eyes generally bent on the carpet (except, by-the-bye, when they are directed piercingly to my face; as just now, for instance); and when one asks you a question, or makes a remark to which you are obliged to reply, you rap out a round rejoinder, which, if not blunt, is at least brusque. What do you mean by it? ‘ ‘Sir, I was too plain: I beg your pardon.
I ought to have replied that it was not easy to give an impromptu answer to a question about appearances; that tastes differ; that beauty is of little consequence, or something of that sort. ‘ ‘You ought to have replied no such thing. Just so: I think so: and you shall be answerable for it. Criticize me: does my forehead not please you? ‘” And even when her beloved Rochester threatens her beliefs, still Jane chooses to remain her own person even when it means having to part with him. She struggles to resist the efforts of others to mold her to their own views of who she should be.
She freely chooses the principles by which she wants to live. As said earlier, Jane suffers an estrangement from her newfound cousin when she chooses to uphold her belief that marriages should be for love and not for convenience. St. John and his controlling and cruel behavior prove otherwise. Shall I said briefly; and I looked at his features, beautiful in their harmony, but strangely formidable in their still severity; at his brow, commanding, but not open; at his eyes, bright and deep and searching, but never soft; at his tall imposing figure; and fancied myself in idea his wife.
Oh! t would never do! As his curate, his comrade, all would be right: I would cross oceans with him in that capacity; toil under Eastern suns, in Asian deserts with him in that office; admire and emulate his courage and devotion and vigour: accommodate quietly to his masterhood; smile undisturbed at his ineradicable ambition. I should suffer often, no doubt, attached to him only in this capacity: my body would be under a rather stringent yoke, but my heart and mind would be free. I should still have my unblighted self to turn to: my natural unenslaved feelings with which to communicate in moments of loneliness.
There would be recesses in my mind which would be only mine, to which he never came; and sentiments growing there, fresh and sheltered, which his austerity could never blight, nor his measured warrior-march trample down: but as his wife – at his side always, and always restrained, and always checked – forced to keep the fire of my nature continually low, to compel it to burn inwardly and never utter a cry, though the imprisoned flame consumed vital after vital – this would be unendurable. In many ways, the St. Johns proposal tempts her. However, St. Johns principles – ambition, austerity, and arrogance are not those that Jane holds.
Misguided religion threatens to afflict Jane throughout the book, and St. John merely embodies one form of it. He also embodies masculine dominance, another force that threatens Jane like a harsh burden over the course of the novel. Thus, she describes St. John and notes his assertion of his authority. Jane must escape such control in order to remain true to herself, for she realizes that her conventional manner of dealing with oppression – by withdrawing into herself, into the recesses of her imagination, into conversation with herself – cannot constitute a way of life.
Furthermore, through all her pains, Jane’s moral sensibilities and Christian virtues are not troubled, for she puts all trust and faith in God’s plan for her life. Feeling clamoured wildly. ?Oh, comply!? it said. ?’soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world cares for you? Or who will be injured by what you do?’still indomitable was the reply: I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.
I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane and not mad – as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation. They have a worth – so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane – quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Jane emphasizes her strong sense of moral integrity over and against her intense immediate feelings.
Rochester is the first person that has ever truly loved her yet she knows that staying with him would mean compromising herself because she would be Rochesters mistress rather than his wife. Not only would she lose her self-respect, she would probably lose Rochesters, too, in the end. Hence, Jane asserts her worth and her ability to love herself regardless of how others treat her. The quote also highlights Janes understanding of religion. She sees God as the giver of the laws by which she must live. When she can no longer trust herself to exercise good judgment, she looks to these principles as an objective point of reference.
Throughout the novel, the author raises a question on how a woman in her society can have passion and principle, love and independence. Though Jane Eyre does not so much suggest definitive answers, she is truly an epitome of femininity – a young independent individual steadfast in her morals and has strong Christian virtues, dominant, assertive and principled and the novel, as create the questions with urgency and a depth of imagination that challenge readers not only through comprehending but also its outcome on its audiences life.