Essay about Jane Eyre: The Effect of a Patriarchal Society

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Charlotte Brontë composed her novel Jane Eyre during the Victorian era; a period of history where Patriarchy set the expectations of men and women. The effect of this social system resulted in women suffering discrimination simply because of their gender. Sigmund Freud, in his essay entitled, “The Relation of the Poet to Day-Dreaming,” articulated that women were only capable of having erotic wishes dominate their “phantasies,” and even their ambitious “phantasies” were rooted in erotic wishes (177). The predominating thought concerning women during this era was that, due to their nature, longed to marry—tending to the needs of her household. Those who were not fortunate enough to marry (due to appearance or social status) were to become …show more content…
Though Mr. Reed had passed away, his son, John Reed, understood the expectations bestowed upon him, and he frequently asserted his patriarchal dominance. When Jane had become accustomed to the abuse delivered by John, he took the liberty of expressing his right of being the patriarch of the family when he proclaimed to Jane that the entire house belonged to him (Eyre, 8). The ensuing fight resulted in Jane being sent to her uncle’s bedroom, and while being tended to by Miss Abbot, Jane was informed that she was below the level of a servant, for she did “‘nothing to earn her keep’” (9). Being a woman during the Victorian era was hard. However, being an indigent girl was even worse. Continuing with the expectations of an economically disadvantaged girl, Jane was sent to a charity school. Mr. Brocklehurst, the clergyman who runs the school, introduces Jane to another approach men take to demonstrate their superiority, self-righteousness. During their first meeting, Jane states that she doesn’t find the book of Psalms “interesting” and Mr. Brocklehurst responds “‘that proves you have a wicked heart’” (27). In addition to Mr. Brocklehurst’s self-righteous behavior—a supposed man of God—Brontë allows Jane (as well as the reader) to experience an alternative method of exerting male dominance under the guise of religion. St. John, a cousin to Jane, frequently uses his position as a

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