Revolutionary Jane Essay

976 words - 4 pages

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British Literature & Culture of the 19th & 20th Century Revolutionary Jane In Brontë's time, the Victorian era, class system still played a huge role in society. People of a certain class would often look down on people from another class. Class was something you were born into. It was almost impossible to shift from one class to another. In the novel Jane Eyre, Brontë presents a very revolutionary character in that aspect. Charlotte Brontë is critical about the class system and tries to show that through Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is not influenced by the social class system, because she shifts between several classes, has a strong character which enables her to ignore the traditions of the class system, and she does not judge others on their class, but rather on their character. Jane is not fixed to one class, but instead shifts between several classes. During her childhood, she is raised within the wealthy Reed's family (Brontë 1). However, she is not considered as family, because she is an orphan. She is born into the working class and for that reason she is ill-treated by the Reed's family (Godfrey 853). This becomes clear when John Reed addresses Jane: "you are a dependant, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not live with gentlemen's children like us" (Brontë 7). She still remains in this class position when she attends Lowood school, which is a school for orphans. At the age of eighteen, she becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, and her position changes. Since she earns her money by teaching a pupil, her position moves upwards somewhere between the working class and the middle class (Godfrey 857). In the rich Mr Rochester she meets her future husband, but when she discovers that he is married to another woman she runs off (Brontë 379). With almost nothing, she has to beg for food which brings her position to the lower class (Brontë 431). When her uncle dies, she inherits a large amount of money, which enables her to climb up to the middle class (Brontë 500). Knowing that Mr Rochester's wife died, she is now able to marry him since their positions are equal. Jane Eyre does not judge others on their class, but rather on their character. As is mentioned before, Jane does not belong to one particular class, but shifts between the two extremes of the class system. In the beginning Jane does not feel comfortable around superior people. This might have been a result of her childhood during which she was ill-treated. However, she quickly learns to evaluate people on their character instead of their class status. First we see how Jane feels drawn to Bessie, the maid, who is the only one during her hard childhood who cares about her: "She had a capricious and hasty temper, … , still such as she was, I preferred her to any...

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