Construction of Love and Gender in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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Construction of Love and Gender in Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte focuses primarily on love, specifically romantic love and it is the way in which Charlotte Bronte challenges 19th century socio-cultural views on gender and romance, as well as other discourses within the novel such as class and status that makes Jane Eyre successful.

The main discourse within Jane Eyre that impacts most greatly upon its feature, romantic love, is the societal classes of the time. This upper and lower class structure becomes evidently the basis of the novel Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre's relationship with Mr. Rochester, her employee and master, is deemed inappropriate by high society as it crosses class boundaries. Even without
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Jane is described as "plain" and when asked by Mr. Rochester whether she thinks him handsome, she replies "no" (149). This defied widely accepted social standards and could mean the demise of both family honour and wealth.

The construction of gender within Jane Eyre is heavily impacted upon by the socio-cultural attitudes of the time. These social and cultural viewpoints are what formed the female gender, by forming the expected code of conduct and behaviour of women in the mid-1800s. Within society women were almost always represented as lower than men and were commonly expected to be sub-servient and non-opinionated. Prime examples of this sort of behaviour is Mrs. Fairfax and to some extent in Jane, while the exact opposite to societal expectation is seen in Bertha Rochester. Who's unruly, psychotic behaviour deemed her to become an unacceptable person within 19th century society. Society at the time of Jane Eyre offered very little in the way of employment for women. The few jobs or tasks they could perform were often menial and mundane. The only alternative to work was to marry, and quite often for money or the purpose of child bearing than love. Thoughts of goals and desires of success were suppressed within women and they were to adhere to convention. Jane Eyre has several characters within its text that comply with these strict, societal