The belief that women should have equal economic, political and social rights which were offered to men was known as feminism. Feminism has been a prominent and controversial topic in writing for over two centuries, with the view articulating in the “19th century meaning that women were inherently equal to men and deserved equal rights and opportunities.” (Gustafson, 1) Many women throughout time have stood forward towards women’s rights. Jane Eyre was written and published during the Victorian Era. The novel was written by Charlotte Brontë, but published under the
pseudonym Currer Bell. Pseudonyms were used frequently by women at
this point in time, as they were believed to be inferior to men. The works of female authors were not as well respected as those of male writers; therefore many women would assume a fictitious name in order for their works to get noticed. A well-known example of another female author writing under a pseudonym at the same time was Mary Ann Evans, who wrote under the name George Eliot. The reason for this oppression
of women writers lies in the belief that a woman’s place was in the home. (VanTassel-Baska, 4) Domesticity and motherhood were portrayed as a sufficient fulfillment. A conventional woman in the Victorian era was married with children. (Proquest, 1) However, Bronte’s novel contains a strong feminist stance, with the main character Jane Eyre making and questioning assumptions about gender and social class, as a young independent woman. She ignored the expectations of society in the Victorian times and followed her own desires, which allowed her to develop into the dominant and assertive woman that became the essence of feminism. At the beginning of the 19th century, little opportunity existed for women, and due to this many of them felt uncomfortable when attempting to enter many parts of society. Bronte’s Jane Eyre gave a voice to women in the Victorian era. Bronte embedded her feminist ideas into her novel, Jane Eyre. Her belief in marrying for love was a head of her time. Bronte used Jane to explore the depth at which women could act in society. Her ideas on women being more educated brought on thoughts of equality of a different level.
Bronte’s Feminist Ideas
Bronte’s feminist ideas radiated throughout her novel Jane Eyre. There were many strong and clear examples of these ideas in Bronte’s protagonist, Jane, her personality, actions, thoughts and beliefs. From the beginning of the book, Jane’s strong personality and her lack of following social expectations were quiet clear. “Women of the Victorian era were not part of a man’s world, as they were considered below them.”(VanTassel-Baska, 4) The class divisions between a man and a woman were very distinctive. Jane however ignored this. When Jane first met Rochester, the whole scene presented a feminist portrait of Jane. A women walking alone in that era should never address a man, but Jane went out of her way to help Rochester...