Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte

1601 Words May 16th, 2016 7 Pages
An obscure orphan governess, perceived to be too young, too penniless, too insignificant to control her own life, defied societal conventions of her time, and remains relevant to this day. Why does this poor, plain governess with no financial prospects or social standing matter in a modern feminist perspective? If she could speak, a modern feminist’s beliefs would likely shock her, so to interpret this novel as feminist, one must see it through the lens of the time and place Brontë wrote it. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was a feminist work in that Bronte expressed disdain for oppressive gender structures through the voice of Jane Eyre, and the actions of Bertha Mason.

Jane Eyre was a steamy novel for its time, with imagery as blatantly concealed as Jane’s description of Rochester’s hand as being “rounded, muscular; and vigorous…long, strong…” (Brontë 312) A modern reader might blush at the description and its obvious phallic undertones, but the imagery would be shocking to a Victorian reader, sexually repressed and unaccustomed to female sexuality. Brontë’s use of indirect sexual imagery caused the book to be labeled by a contemporary as “one of the coarsest books which we ever perused” (Jordison). A Victorian doctor named William Acton stated that “The majority of women are not very much troubled with sexual feeling of any kind.” (Hughes) Many readers in the era of hidden passion and extreme modesty accepted the concept of a pure, sexless woman (Fisk), so the portrayal…

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