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Male Oppression in Jane Eyre Essay


Jane Eyre: Male Oppression

Considered one of Charlotte Bronts greatest works, Jane Eyre will always be known for its strong message and symbolism-especially the theme of male oppression. On Janes journey to self-discovery, many male characters attempt to oppress her, but she resists. In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bront uses the interactions between Jane, Mr. Rochester and St. John Rivers to assert that women during the Victorian Era possessed the will to overcome male oppression and gain both their own independence as well as control over their own lives.

An example of this is when Charlotte Bront portrays a man abusing a womans own love for him to his advantage. At Thornfield, Rochester uses Janes love for him to control her, but despite this, she decides to leave Thornfield with her morals and integrity rather than stay as his inferior mistress. An example is this is when she says I looked at my love; that feeling which was my masters which he had createdReal affection, it seemed he could not have for meOh how blind had been my eyes! How weak my conduct! when she reflects on their relationship. (Bront 345) Since Rochester knew about Janes interest in him, he would not let Jane leave by giving her a sense of guilt every time she tries. He uses her love to bind her to Thornfield. Realizing that this is not the true love she imagined, she strengthens her resolve to leave. When Rochester stops her right before she leaves, Jane says (Bront 270) The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained (she is), the more (she) will respect (herself). (She) will keep the law given by God. (She) will hold to the principles received by (her) when (she) was sane and not madas (she is) now, meaning that she will respect herself more if she leaves. This fits Janes personality of plainness, as she tries to be more friendless and solidary. Then Jane refers to Helens philosophy when she talks about keeping the laws of God. In this quote, Jane asserts her morals and personal beliefs over her emotions. Many times, she describes an internal conflict with her emotions (her love for Rochester) fighting against her logic (the laws she lives by) for control over her actions. Instead of staying behind and becoming Rochesters mistress to fulfill her desires, Jane stays true to herself and decides that this is not the type of love she wants, since staying as his mistress will always make her his inferior.

Charlotte Bront portrays religion as a tool used by men to manipulate women if they dont stay true to their own beliefs. During her time at Moor house, St John repeatedly insists for her to come with him to India as a missionary with his religious plot. He tempts Jane by giving her the chance to do goodwill in India as a servant of God. (Bront 343) However, it is odvious that his ideas of love are flawed too. An instance of this is when he says God and nature intended you for a missionarys wife. It is not personalyou are formed for labour, not for love to Jane, trying to make her submit. Here, St John is attempting to justify his demands through God. After befriending Helens Burns Jane finds new belief in religion, and starts to base some of her morals on Christianity. St. John is takes advantage of this loyalty to God. However, Jane responds to this justifying her beliefs on religion too, saying that her heart would rather belong to God, than him. When she says (Bront 348) I scorn your idea of love I scorn the counterfeit sentiment you offer it shows Janes control of her own life. Women of the time period would usually say yes to any proposal of a marriage into a higher social status. Jane refuses two. Janes feelings tell her that being married to St. John out of fake love would not be right. Although she gets a chance to do good in the world, her emotions and actions will always be oppressed and inferior to St. Johns. She would not only have to change her name, but suppress her feelings forever and redefine the rules she lives by. Jane decides that she would not be willing to sacrifice her emotions for St. John. This shows Janes independency and her strong will overcome oppression by staying true to her beliefs.

After her experiences of oppression at the hands of Rochester and St. John and others, Jane finishes her journey of self-discovery by finally emerging as an independent woman with control over her life, showing that woman can indeed gain control of their own lives. After her experiences at the Moor, Jane hears Rochester calling for her, and decides to come back. She has found a loving family and a big inheritance, so she comes to Thornfield out of her own desires, showing her control over her life. Before, Rochester was the powerful lord of Thornfield, but after it is set on fire, Charlotte Bront tames him and now he is more equal to Jane. With his vision gone and his face burned, Rochester is the complete opposite from his arrogant cynical old self who has to get everything he wants. She comes back, assesses the damage of the fire to Rochesters body and avoids patronizing him and being overprotective. She even jokes about their earlier days, saying that Rochester has metamorphosed into a lion. She says that she is an independednt woman now (Bront 370) when questioned by Rochester. Jane appears to be in control over Rochester now, as he is dependent on her, unlike the first time around. In Janes conclusion she says (Bront 384) I am my husbands life as fully as he is mine. No woman was nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and fresh of his flesh, talking about becoming equal terms with Rochester. This passage is the resolution of Jane Eyre. Here, she has finally reached her goal of becoming independent. She and Rochester are no longer separated by their gender, spiritual beliefs and social status because she has not given anything up. Through her humbling experiences, she has become an independent strong-willed woman

Charlotte Bronts Jane Eyre incorporates male oppression to affirm that women in the Victorian era have the will to overcome adversity, achieve independence and control of their own lives if they maintain their morals and beliefs. When Rochester took advantage of her feelings, she left him taking along with her, her beliefs and morals. St John tried to oppress her by making her to act on Gods will, but once again, she overcomes his oppression by sticking to the laws she lives by. In the end, Jane emerges as an independent and strong woman with control over her life by overcoming the male oppression.

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