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Jane Eyre And The Color Purple Essay

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Both the novels Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and The Color Purple by Alice Walker portray female characters that are willing to challenge the role of women in their society. Through careful analysis of education, marriage, and time period, this essay will explore and assess how these ideas contribute to society’s views of women having a minor role. These aspects will also uncover how Jane from Jane Eyre and Celie from The Color Purple grow and develop their characters, which ultimately lead them to defying society’s view of women.

The novel Jane Eyre portrays Jane as a well-educated woman. At the beginning of the novel, Jane “scarcely knew what school was” (Brontë. 2010. p 19) while living with the Reeds’, however, it was only within a few
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Celie is forced to leave school as a result of her stepfather believing that she is “too dumb to keep going to school” (Walker. 2014. p 11). When her teacher, Miss Beasley, tries to urge him to reconsider his decision, she tells him that “long as she been a teacher she never know nobody want to learn bad as Nettie and [Celie]” (Walker. 2014. p 12). However, she does not pursue the matter any further once she sees that Celie is pregnant as she also loses hope in Celie. Despite such disadvantages that Celie faces as an adolescent, she learns how to make pants from Shug Avery. From such knowledge, Celie is able to run a successful business in making pants and, consequently, she confesses to Nettie that she is “so happy. I got love, I got work, I got money, friends and time” (Walker. 2014. p…show more content…
The novel takes place during the Victorian Era when Jane is a young girl and carries on until she reaches adulthood. According to Kathryn Hughes, author of Gender Roles in the 19th Century (2014), the 19th century was what “Victorians thought of as ‘separate spheres’, only coming together at breakfast and again at dinner.” She also mentions that women were expected to occupy the domestic, private ‘sphere’, while men engaged in the public ‘sphere’. Despite such ideologies, Jane manages to succeed in breaking such views of women by becoming a governess, which allows her to engage in the public ‘sphere’ at Thornfield, and during her stay, she forms a respectable relationship with Mr Rochester. Mr Rochester takes walks with her and occupies their time by having meaningful conversations of which he leaves “both the choice of subject and the manner of treating it entirely” (Brontë. 2010. p 133) to Jane. At the end of the novel, he also tells Jane that he will “abide by your decision” (Brontë. 2010. p 454) as he confesses that he wants to marry. Jane’s occupation and relationship with Mr Rochester suggest that she did not live in ‘separate spheres’ as men. This suggests that Jane Eyre is a modern, feminist novel that was incredibly ahead of the 19th
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