Victorian Woman Essay, Research Paper
The image of Jane Eyre was certainly a startling one to the Victorian public. On the surface Jane Eyre seems like a quintessential heroine of Gothic and Sentimental literature: a plane and poor girl who, having virtuously defied the temptation of being seduced, is rewarded for her outstanding morality and chastity by the crowning elements of propriety and desirability –a husband and a fortune. However, there is a catch Jane hardly fits into the mold of soft gracefulness and demureness created by the moralists of the young Victoria s days. Jane is clever a quality very much discouraged in a Victorian maiden; cleverness was thought to be an attribute of a blue stocking , it brought to one s mind the dreadful corrupt women of Enlightenment who would frivolously indulge in intellectual pursuits among men. A Victorian gentleman did not like brains in a wife he wanted her charming and endearingly stupid about anything going beyond her domestic duties, admiring for and submissive of him. Jane hardly exhibits those qualities when she converses with Mr. Rochester, she voices honest opinions about her impressions of him, however unflattering they may be. The rebelliousness of Jane s nature against the room of one s own endowed to her by her station is further exhibited by the fact that she rejects St. John s offer of marriage for the sole reason of not loving him. The notion is appalling to the Victorian morale: a girl in her position ought to feel grateful and sensible and not entertain the foolish ideas of unsolicited love. Jane s refusal to give consent to St. John s offer is an offense to the very essence of the Victorian morale in which a marriage is something every girl should strive and hope for; besides gaining a new protector in place of her father, marriage is her only chance of ever having a respected and honourable position of at least some authority as a mother and a housewife. What Jane stated by her refusal is that she felt strong enough to be independent in the men s world. A woman who is a spinster in a Victorian society was to be pitied. A woman who was passionate condemned herself as vulgar and deplorable . Jane is at times fierce as illustrated in the beginning of the novel when she is appalled at the unfairness of treatment she receives from her cousin John and her aunt Reed. She remains true to her nature, and never adopts the manner of coy weakness and helplessness, which is evident from her behaviour all throughout the novel, especially in the way that she conducts herself with Mr. Rochester. When the truth of his marriage is found out, Jane makes the decision to leave Thornfield. When Rochester asks her to stay, her reply is vehement: “I tell you I must go! Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?–a machine…
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