Jane Eyre in a Feminist Lens

            Feminism is a phenomenon of the recent past where women now seek to be heard, dignity and freedom. In earlier centuries, women had no right, independence, liberty or freedom, and were supposed to submit to standards set for them by the society without defiance. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte’s book, though did not live in that era, defied most of the standards set for a woman, and proved to be an example of feminist. Throughout the story, she is committed to ensuring she is valued and respected, and always seeks dignity, which women lacked at that time. She showed a strong commitment to independence when she refused to be lured to marry a man because of his gifts, freedom of speech where she said what was in her thoughts, and courage to resist to the emotional power from a man. These characteristics were cultivated by female characters in the book. What makes a feminist is her quest to be equal to a man in most occasions, and seeking what women did not have, which is the meaning of feminism. The book expresses the views of many women in society.

In this book, the author has presented a desperate woman struggling with attaining recognitions in the society. She seeks to be loved equally just as she loves others, and would lose anything even her hand just to be valued and treated with dignity. This is a portrayal of what women so much valued, above their self, but were rarely given. She has to struggle not only with her own will to be recognized, but also the wills of the society, that impose standards on her, which she does not want at all, and wishes to be given equal recognition, freedom to choose and independence. One of her actions that bring out a feminist is when she does not show regards to Mr. Rochester even after buying her gifts. Infact, she says that, “the more he bought me, the more my cheek burned with a sense of annoyance and degradation,” (Bronte, 236). This portrays that she does not define herself by what the society defines women, in terms of qualification to marriage.

In another instance, she leaves Mr. Rochester, illustrating her courage as a feminist, and the action is against the standards set for a woman. She had refused to act as her master’s mistress, which was not in accordance with the set norms, despite it being hard to leave his house; she finds the courage to do so. By doing so, she had defied the standards that confined women to their place, and went out to have an independent life out on her own, which was not allowed for women. Throughout the book, most of her actions are that of a desperate woman looking for recognition as equal to a man in terms of morals and religiously too. She goes ahead to say, “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! I have as much soul as you–and full as much heart!” (Bronte, 222).

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