Jane Eyre: A Victorian Criticism Essay

850 words - 3 pages

The Victorian Era, lasting from 1832 until 1901, was a period of British history during the reign of Queen Victoria. This era contained the industrial revolution, which aided in the creation of a large middle class. It is well known for its many injustices, such as its rigid social class structure, mistreatment of the poor, and strict gender roles. Victorian authors, such as Charles Dickens, Matthew Arnold, George Elliot, and the Bronte sisters criticized these injustices in their works. Charlotte Bronte, who lived during the Victorian Era, wrote about the society’s injustices in her novels Jane Eyre, Shirley, and The Professor. The novel Jane Eyre is Charlotte Bronte’s response to the injustices of the Victorian Era.
One major injustice of the Victorian Era was its very rigid social classes. Victorian people have to follow rules specific to their social class, such as, a person cannot marry a member of another class. Bronte displays this with Jane’s mother, who was in the aristocracy, but was disowned by her father for marrying a poor minister. Bronte perfectly captures the way the people of the aristocracy viewed lower class people when John Reed says to Jane, “you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money' your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama's expense” (Bronte 11). Another example of this injustice can be seen in Mrs. Fairfax’s disapproval of Jane and Mr. Rochester’s relationship. Mrs. Fairfax displays this disapproval by saying, “Gentlemen in his station are not accustomed to marry their governesses” (404). In the Victorian Era, the aristocracy believed poor people deserved to be poor; therefore, upper class people often looked down on lower class people. Jane Eyre has several examples of this, such as Jane’s cousin John Reed tormenting and even abusing Jane for being poor. Another example is Blanche Ingram and her family criticizing Jane for being a governess. Blanch believes Jane is too stupid to play a game with them because Jane is not from the upper class. The social class structure during this time was very unjust; therefore, Bronte criticizes it in Jane Eyre.
Another injustice of the Victorian Era that Charlotte Bronte displays in Jane Eyre is its strict gender roles. In this era, men were believed to be superior to women. The first example Bronte shows the reader this is with John Reed’s abusing of Jane. John Reed believed he was superior to Jane because he was a male. John...

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