Gender Issues in Jane Eyre In today’s society how many people like the feeling of being controlled? Not many people, because being controlled by some other outside force means giving up one’s sense of independence and the right to be free. Thus, this situation leads many into gender disagreements, because one may view men as controllers of women. These disagreements are one of the introductions to Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, in that Jane Eyre strives to fight the gender gap of the early 18th century society by overcoming it with her strong willed independence.
Repression, or control in Jane Eyre’s life starts at a young age at Gateshead. There she is treated horribly by her own flesh and blood and is exposed to the constant social class segregation from everyone. From the start her sense of loneliness and isolation is evident in the way she hides herself behind thick curtains in a deserted room ostracized by her aunt and cousins. Her feelings are emphasized by descriptions of weather outside, which is cold, wet and miserable: “near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast. Later on in chapter two, when Jane is locked in the Red Room, she can still hear “rain beating continuously” and the wind “howling in the grove behind the wall. ” There is pathetic fallacy in the reflection of Jane’s situation in the miserable weather. The bleak view from the window reinforces the idea of little Jane’s unhappiness. This sprawling house is almost her whole world. Despite the fact that Jane lives in a very luxurious and noble house, it is not much of a home to her; she is constantly being reminded by John Reed about merely being a dependent there.
At this point, Jane is criticized not only because she is a female but because she is a lower class female and is seen as using upper class men to help herself. Her opposition to let her relatives control her causes her to be a rebellious demon: “The red room “perfectly represents her vision of the society in which she is trapped” (Anderson). Similarly, Jane’s strong willed ways cause her to be isolated from society while at Lowood. There, Jane has a limited amount of freedom in the sense that she can partake in whatever she wants, but must obey the rules of the institution.
However, she can only take it for so long, because isolation is the main reason why Jane wanted to leave Gateshead in the first place. “Jane manages to evade rochester’s authoritarian claims for her body and soul by her quiet aggressiveness. ” ( Now she finds herself in the same situation at Lowood. This feeling causes her to move on with her life. She finds the next stepping stone at Thornfield. The house was mostly controlled by women and the man, Rochester, only lived their occasionally and had no concern for the women that worked there. The women of Thornfield all represent women without a place, the fallen, or the outcast” (Anderson). While Rochester was there he isolated himself as much as he could from all the surrounding conflicts, mostly those with Bertha. Jane does feel sympathy for “the unfortunate lady” (Bronte 320). However, the revelation of Bertha comes to be known to the reader and Jane no longer feels safe at Thornfield. Jane escapes at Thronfield, however, she regrets leaving Rochester knowing she felt true love there. However Jane shows her strong will for independence by always leaving places before they are able to control her.
Jane’s cousin, John discovers Jane’s hiding place and begins to threaten her for being a lowly orphan who is only permitted to live with Reeds because of his mother’s charity. John then hurls a book at the young girl pushing her to the end of her patience. As Jane finally erupts, the two cousins begin to fight, however, Jane does not strike with her fists as much as using words to defend herself: “You are like the murderer-you are like a slave-driver, you are like the Roman Emperors! ” These overemotional comparisons add some melodramatic shade to the scene.
Charlotte Bronte uses descriptions of mental, physical, and natural violence throughout the text to interest the reader and create springboards towards more emotional and dramatic parts of the novel. By doing this, Bronte not only uses violence to capture reader’s attention, but also leads the reader on an interesting journey throughout the book. In the end, her individualism causes her to be whoever she desires because she no longer feels a dark cloud of pity and remorsefulness looming over her. This dark cloud is what many Victorian women felt. Bronte’s narrative effectively challenges of the suffocating restriction imposed upon nineteenth-century women” (Anderson). During the Victorian era women never had as much freedom or the individuality to rise against society. At that time, women and men were never at an equal level socially. “Women are supposed to be very calm generally,” and “confine themselves to making pudding and kitting stockings” (Bronte 113). However, Jane refuses to accept these limits and “refuses to pay the high of outer calm” (Anderson).
In the end Jane resides as the role of a wife, and never really achieved “true independence or freedom” (Anderson). It is true that people like to be in charge of their own lives. Many do not like feeling dependent on their spouse because it only leaves them to self-pity and never ending resentment. Wanting control and escaping the dark cloud of sympathy is quite apparent in Jane Eyre. Jane’s only desire is to avoid the effects of repression but “associates freedom and oppression with healthy and unhealthy environments” (Anderson).
In the end, she ties her roles of being a strong willed woman and independence with having men depending on her.
Works Cited Anderson, Joan. “Angry Angels: Repression, Containment, and Deviance, in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. ” The Victorian Web. 21 April 2004. The Victorian Web. 26 April 2010. http://www. victorianweb. org/authors/bronte/cbronte/anderson1. html. Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York, New York: Tom Doherty Associates, Inc. , 1994. Eric SolomonCollege English, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Dec. , 1963), pp. 215-217 Published by: National Council of Teachers of English Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/373690