Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre represents the role of women in the Victorian era by giving the reader an insight into the lives of women from all social classes. Jane Eyre therefore represents figures of the Victorian time yet the character of Jane Eyre, herself, can be seen as very unconventional for the Victorian society.
England, in the eighteenth century, was driven by class distinction and wealth. In the lower class there was always a desperate struggle to survive which contrasted to the life led by the upper class, socializing with people like themselves. The servant trade, made up by the lower class, allowed the upper class to live their desired life whilst constantly maintaining superiority based on their position in society.
Women, in all classes, were still living in a world which was misogynistic and male-dominated. Their purpose in life was to produce male heirs and maintain the home by hiring and overseeing servants. It was also taboo for one to marry significantly below one’s social class. This is one reason that Jane is not a conventional heroine for the society of her time. Although, as a governess, she is not considered to be as low as a housemaid, she is still part of the hired help in the house. This is why it is unconventional for her and Mr Rochester to be in a relationship. Yet this is not as peculiar as how Jane Eyre ends their relationship due to her sense of betrayal. It would have been considered extremely foolish for a working-woman’s sense of betrayal to end and turn down a man of great wealth.
Many women in this period would engage in “arranged” marriages which were widely accepted and indeed, one of the most practiced forms of marrying at this time. Usually a marriage of convenience rather than love, one’s parents would agree on a favourable union between their children. The parent’s motives varied and could be completely without emotion. That is a family may wish their children to marry into a wealthy or prestigious family.
It was not a requirement of marriage that the couple love each other and it has been suggested that love in marriage was usually financially driven or simply a desirable union between two families. Again this is wear we see Jane as being rare in the fact she married for love, not for money, and that she obviously married above her station at the time. Her station had improved through her acquired wealth by the time she returned to marry Mr Rochester.
Often Jane reflects on herself as being unconventional particularly in the way she talks with Mr Rochester. She refers to the intelligence that she has as being a close match to his but also her apparent confidence in honestly answering questions which one would usually shy away from. Jane surprises herself often it would seem, in the ways that she is not conventional and is happy for it. Having said this, Jane does try, at times top fit the social norm by wanting to be on the sidelines so to speak when Mr Rochester has...