Radical Ideas In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

2091 words - 8 pages

Radical Ideas in Jane Eyre

 
       Charlotte Bronte knew what she was doing when she assumed the pseudonym of Currer Bell. In Jane Eyre she wanted to pose radical ideas regarding the role of women in the 19th century, but being a sensible woman, she knew that society would never accept having a woman pose these new views. It would be altogether too logical and self-praising. Though the author was never credited for the published novel it must have been equally fulfilling for her to know that people had read the opinions voiced by a woman. Bronte's novel was successful as her refreshing story captivated the attention, if only negative, of many audiences. Jane Eyre is the epitome of feminism as her main objective in life is to attain social equality. This woman is passionate, restless, and unusually bold as she dares to say things that women would never say.

 

Throughout the novel Jane displays outstanding courage and boldness which were uncommon traits in women of her time. We first see Jane's efforts to defend herself crushed by Mrs. Reed who says, "There is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner" (pg. 3). One would think that the life at Gateshead would have subdued Jane's fiery temper, but it only rooted it deeper within her spirit. Had Jane been treated kindly she might have grown up a sweet-tempered girl, always giving in to the demands of society and holding back from developing her hungry mind. Jane also stands up to the bully, John Reed: "Wicked and cruel boy!...You are like a murderer, you are like a slave driver&emdash;You are like the Roman emperors!" (pg. 8). Jane is a brave character as she dares to step out of the acceptable realm of society when she feels that she is being treated unjustly. Bronte never labels Jane as a feminist but she gradually builds a rebellious character who isn't willing to consent to society's rules.

 

Jane refuses to think any less of herself than those who surround her. As a child she naively thought herself the equal of her cousins, and often forgot that she was merely a dependent kept at the mercy of her benefactress. Bessie kindly reminds Jane of this after her retaliation to her "young master," but the stubborn Jane replies, "Master! How is he my master? Am I his servant?" (pg. 9). Jane's determination to place her eyes at the same level as her cousins forces her aunt to cast her away to seek a future far from them. Ironically, Mrs. Reed sent her away wishing her worse treatment, but Jane would be rewarded by finally being treated as an equal at Lowood as well as at Thornfield. At the orphanage, Jane develops a strong foundation for having other people regard her for what she accomplishes. Jane fondly remembers, "...I...set to work afresh, resolved to pioneer my way through every difficulty. I toiled hard, and my success was proportionate to my efforts" (pg. 91). Jan learned the most important lesson of her...

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