The Oppressed Female in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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The Oppressed Female in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë clearly demonstrates the relationship between sexuality and morality in Victorian society through the character of Bertha Mason, the daughter of a West Indian planter and Rochester's first wife. Rochester recklessly married Bertha in his youth, and when it was discovered shortly after the marriage that Bertha was sexually promiscuous, Rochester locked her away. Bertha is called a "maniac" and is characterized as insane. Confining Bertha for her display of excess passion reinforces a prevalent theme in Jane Eyre, that of oppressive sexual Victorian values. Bertha's captivity metaphorically speaks on the male-dominated Victorian society
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In many instances, though, at both Lowood School and at Thornfield Hall, Jane is found wistfully staring out windows. Though she is not as confined as Bertha, her longing is an expression of being trapped in a subjugated societal station nearly impossible to surmount. Unlike Bertha who is locked in a room behind double doors with no windows at all, Jane is given a little more freedom in which to explore her inner desires. Her intent looking out of windows perhaps signifies her longing for a life in which she can freely express her whole self.

As Mr. Brockelhurst had warned against conformation to nature during Jane's time at Lowood School, Jane has been socially programmed to hold back real passion. Though she may want to conform to nature, she instead must accept the moral standards of the day. In this way, Jane typifies the Victorian woman in her repression. As an example, even though she wants to marry Rochester, she chooses not to when she learns about Bertha, because it would be morally wrong. However repressed Jane is, she seems to go beyond the norm in certain other ways. For example, she refuses to be dominated by men and speaks up with straightforwardness and sincerity. Further, Jane and Rochester have an egalitarian relationship, which is not typical in Victorian society.

Throughout Jane Eyre, Brontë uses images of fire to symbolically represent passion and sexuality,
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