Jane Eyre3 Essay

This essay has a total of 4931 words and 20 pages.

Jane Eyre3



Jane Eyre: Role of Male Dominance

Somewhere, The Dark Sheds Light

"Never, never, never quit..." -Winston Churchill

If women on this Earth had given up, they would be where they were in the time of Charlotte Brontë.
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, tells the story of a woman on a lifetime journey,
progressing on the path of acceptance, in searching of sympathy. Throughout her journey,
Jane encounters many obstacles to her intelligence. Jane lives in a world and in a time
where society thought women were too fragile to ponder too much at once. Women at the
time had barely any rights at all, and women were not allowed prominent positions. Male
dominance proves to be the biggest obstruction at each stop of Jane's journey through
Gateshead Hall, Lowood Institution, Thornfield Manor, Moor House, and Ferndean Manor. As
she grows, however, as she is her own shoulder to lean on in her times of need, Jane
slowly learns how to understand and control repression.

Jane's journey begins at Gateshead Hall. Mrs. Reed, Jane's aunt and guardian, serves as
the biased arbitrator of the rivalries that constantly occur between Jane and John Reed.
John emerges as the dominant male figure at Gateshead. He insists that Jane concedes to
him and serve him at all times, threatening her with mental and physical abuse. Mrs. Reed
condones John's conduct and sees him as the victim. Jane's rebellion against Mrs. Reed
represents a realization that she does not deserve the unjust treatment. Jane refuses to
be treated as a subordinate and finally speaks out against her oppressors. Her reactions
to Mrs. Reed's hate appear raw and uncensored, and foreshadow possible future responses to
restraints. This rebellion also initiates the next phase of her journey.

Lowood Institution represents the next step in Jane's progression. Her obstacle here
appears in the form of Mr. Brocklehurst, the operator of the "respectable" institution.
He made his first appearance at Gateshead Hall in order to examine Jane and verify her
evil qualities (according to Mrs. Reed). "I looked up at- a black pillar!" (24) Jane
introduces Mr. Brocklehurst in such a way that we can predict the nature of their
relationship, dark. Once Jane and Mr. Brocklehurst go into conversation, he explains to
Jane how bad little children go to hell. When asked how to prevent going to hell, Jane
gives a roundabout answer. Jane knows Mr. Brocklehurst wants to hear that she will pray
to become a better child, but instead Jane replies: "I must keep in good health, and not
die." (26). Jane further references his appearance in chapter four: "What a face...!"
thinks Jane, "what a great nose! and what a mouth! and what large prominent teeth!"
This sounds more like the Big, Bad Wolf luring Little Red Ridinghood into his trap. At
Lowood, Mr. Brocklehurst exemplifies the perfect hypocrite. He constantly preached for
the denial of "luxury and indulgence" (55), though his values conflict with these ideas.
His wife and daughters personify the meanings of luxury and indulgence in that "they were
splendidly attired in velvet, silk, and furs" (57). He extends his hypocrisy in quoting
bible passages to support his preachings, though these preachings and passages do not
apply to his own life. He says, " I have a master to serve whose kingdom is not of this
world: my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh, to teach them to
clothe themselves with shame and sobriety, not with braided hair and costly apparel..."
(57). Although she must learn to deal with Brocklehurst's complete dominance, Jane changes
a lot during her years at Lowood, due mainly to the teachings of Helen Burns and Miss.
Temple. Through their instruction, Jane learns how to control her anger over Mr.
Brocklehurst's false accusations and understand her feelings without yielding to a vocal
rebellion like the one prompted by Mrs. Reed at Gateshead.

Jane's journey next brings her to Thornfield Manor. Mr. Rochester becomes the dominant
male figure at this juncture. While in residence at Thornfield, Rochester demands
undivided attention from the servants, Jane included. He insists on dominance in every
aspect of his life, and he needs recognition for his superiority. Jane somehow resolves
to accept his control and she concedes to him by calling him "sir," even after beginning
their intimate relationship. She even goes so far as to excuse herself for thinking. She
says, "I was thinking, sir (you will excuse the idea; it was involuntary), I was thinking
of Hercules and Samson with their charmers-" (247). Jane's irony suggests displeasure at
Rochester's complete dominance of their relationship. Jane's reference to religion also
becomes associated with the idea of a dominant sex, particularly the male gender. For
Jane, Rochester embodies the idea of love which has so long been denied to her. She still
must continue her pilgrimage when she finds Rochester's physical and material love
unacceptable.

Jane's next lesson comes at Moor House. Here, she must answer to St. John, her cousin
(though in name only). He portrays the ultimate sacrificer, willing to do anything for
others, no matter how undesirable. St. John also expects this of Jane, and she must decide
whether to answer to his call. By this point in her journey, Jane understands that her
search for sympathy can not be realized without real love. She denies St. John's marriage
proposal by saying, "I have a woman's heart, but not where you are concerned; for you I
only have a comrade's constancy; a fellow-soldier's frankness, fidelity, fraternity. .
.nothing more. . ." (390). She knows real love can not be given to her by St. John and she
must continue still in her journey.

Ferndean Manor emerges as the final stop in Jane's journey. Once again, Rochester appears
as the dominant figure, although his superior air becomes greatly reduced in light of his
ailments and complete dependency on those around him. A new man results in this change,
and in him, Jane finds her real, spiritual and physical love. She says, "All my heart is
yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest
of me from your presence forever" (425). Rochester no longer demands a subservient being
to boost his ego; he demands an equal partner. He does not try to contain Jane; he sets
her free. He says, "Miss Eyre, I repeat it, you can leave me" (424). She does not leave
him though. In him, Jane finds her sympathy. Rochester embodies the perfect balance
between the physical and the spiritual, the natural and graceful, intellectual and
physical beauty, and love and servitude. Rather than being ruled, Jane realizes her true
abilities and she finds her balance.

Jane Eyre makes many stops on her pilgrimage for happiness and equality. Each stop helps
her understand and realize qualities in herself and others. With each new experience and
trial, she learns how to rationally confront the repression, which leads to her
progression. At Gateshead, Jane refuses to be treated as a subordinate and finally speaks
out against her oppressors. At Lowood, Mr. Brocklehurst exemplifies the perfect hypocrite,
but a simple letter from Mr. Lloyd gets the best of Mr. Brocklehurst. With Mr. Rochester
at Thornfield, Jane somehow resolves to accept his control and she concedes to him by
calling him "sir," even after beginning their intimate relationship, no doubt, she will do
anything or change any of her ways for him. With a bit of a twist at Moor House, Jane
begins to understand that her search for sympathy can not be realized without real love,
where a man, St. John, treats her as a goddess. Finally at Ferndean Rochester appears as
the dominant figure once more, but his superiority waters down in light of his ailments
and complete dependency on those around him, primarily Jane. Understanding dominance,
though not yielding to it, becomes the key for Jane to achieve success. After all, both
Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bront‰ stood up for their rights in a time where society said they
couldn't. Reader, if you have a problem, speak up.


New thang

Charlotte Bronte was a strong-willed woman with extreme beliefs in self-awareness and
individuality, a viewpoint that was tacitly condemned in those times. Throughout her
novels Charlotte never failed to collide the main character with the discovery of her true
worth. Jane Eyre was Charlotte's most popular novels and happens to beautifully
demonstrate the main character gradually becoming in touch with her true self through life
lessons.

The journey of Miss Jane Eyre begins at Gateshead where she is in the care of her cruel
aunt who treats her like someone off the streets. In the words of Maggie Berg, a critic
who wrote Jane Eyre: A Companion to the Novel, Jane sees herself as a "rebellious slave"
and "hungerstricken". She is clearly the "scapegoat of the nursery" (pg. 47). In the
eyes of her wicked aunt she was a "precocious actress" and was therefor regularly locked
up like a dog. According to Berg the effect of these accounts drew attention to her
self-dramatization. From the very moment Jane was able to read she was constantly
attracted by the disguised portraits that she make for herself in books, ballads, and
dolls. The recurring theme of self-awareness I saw in Jane Eyre started from the first
time Jane saw herself in the mirror which consequentially gave her a fresh awareness of
her own identity. When John "throws the book" at Jane Charlotte Bronte's attempt was to
both literally and metaphorically symbolize the deprivation he was instigating of any
sense of herself and her rights.

According to Jacques Lacan, the first identity of oneself in a mirror is the most decisive
stage in human development. It provides the "awareness of oneself as an object of
knowledge".


I had to cross before the looking glass; my fascinated glance involuntarily explored the
depth it revealed. All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality:
and the strange little figure there gazing at me with a white face and arms specking the
gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the effect of a
real spirit: I thought it like one of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp, Bessies's
evening stories represented as coming out of lone, ferny dells in moors, and appearing
before the eyes of belated travelers. (46)


Throughout her childhood at Gateshead Jane was treated in the most unjust manner, but
never until she was locked up it the notorious "Red Room" had she ever admitted to hating
her family. When she finally did get her hatred off her chest it yielded much relief, but
was followed by intense guilt because such behavior is one that she was grown up not to
condone within herself. Her guilt is what I believe to be her first lesson in her
self-awareness. Every time she seemed to release herself, something I've always found to
be healthy, she suppressed them with her guilt. Throughout the novel, like Berg
commented, Jane projects her emotions of intense resentment that she doesn't condone in
herself and doesn't like to admit. The crisis in the Red Room was a major lesson of
self-awareness for Jane in the sense that it caused her to "fall from childhood innocence
into recognition of her own potential evil."

The Red Room crisis is recounted by Jane four times; each time differently as a result of
the unexpected non-sympathetic attitudes she received from the listener of the previous
account. The first account was most impassioned.

I shall remember how you thrust me back-roughly and violently thrust me back-into the
red-room, and locked me up there, to my dying day, though I was in agony, though I cried
out, whole suffocating with distress, "Have mercy! Have mercy Aunt Reed!"…I will tell
anybody who asks me questions this exact tale. (68-69)

The second account was to the apothecary who didn't yield too much sympathy, but the
third, to Helen Burns was one of no tolerance or sympathy in the least bit. Helen firmly
says, "Would you not be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with the
passionate emotions it excited? Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing
animosity or registering wrongs" (90). This turns out to be a lesson about herself that
Jane chooses to take with her for the future progression of her identity. We know that
she has progressed by examining the account of the same incident to Mrs. Temple for the
fourth time.

I resolved in the depth of my heart, that I would be most moderate-most correct; and,
having reflected a few minutes in order to arrange coherently what I had to say, I told
her all the story of my sad childhood. Exhausted by emotion, my language was more subdued
than it generally was when it developed that sad theme; and mindful of Helen's warnings
against the indulgence of resentment, I infused into the narrative far less of gall and
wormwood than ordinary. Thus restrained and simplified, it sounded more credible: I felt
I went on that Miss Temple fully believed me. (102-3)


At Gateshead Jane undergoes a physical and spiritual transition away from her inner
confinement. She is very strong-willed and decisive from what I've seen. For example
when she explored beyond the gates at Thornfield she is unwilling to return to the "gloomy
house…. the gray hollow" (148). She sees all this through glass doors.

The Loowood School is Jane's greatest transition. She confronts the harsh reality of
physical survival and gets a sense of her own worth. The journey to the school begins in
cold and darkness before dawn in the first month of the year, which symbolized a new birth
for her. She is about to physically change her life, but she will also discover much
about herself, helping to mold her self-identification. At the school she also becomes
more adventurous.

Her discovery of herself at Loowood begins when Helen Burns tells her that she is too
dependent on the approval of others. By always keeping this in mind throughout the story
Jane is able to ignore the disapproval of others and live life the way she wants. In that
respect she becomes a stronger person. The punishment Jane receives by Mr. Brocklehurst
is a major visual presentation of herself. She had a superior position on the stool and
all the "ladies" underneath her looked ridiculous. Berg commented that Jane's bird eye
view alters her perspective psychologically and she surprises herself by being so
self-controlled. " I mastered the rising hysteria, lifted up my head, and took a firm
stand on the stool" (99). Jane is metaphorically "propped up" by the sympathetic glances
of her fellow pupils. Here Jane learns another valuable lesson from Helen. "If all the
world hated you, and believed you wicked, whole your own conscience approved you, and
absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends" (101), says Helen. From this
she learns that being dubbed a liar doesn't make her one. Berg exclaims that whatever
label is pinned on her, her soul remains her own. To me it's no wonder Helen Burns dies in
the story. She seems to me to resemble the martyr in Jane's life. Helen is Jane's Jesus.

The consequence of being called a liar was being called innocent. Miss Temple believed
her as did her fellow pupils. This was a turning point in her life because it gave her
self worth having the approval of the majority of the school. Yet Jane was not satisfied
with her view. She had expanded her self-awareness to such a great degree that the school
was hindering her from expanding.
Continues for 10 more pages >>




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