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Feminism Emerges from the Patriarchal Influence on a Youthful Mind

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Feminism Emerges from the Patriarchal Influence on a Youthful Mind

The internal and external conflicts of any character define a novel. In Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, the title character’s internal and external conflicts were nothing but the shadows of past experiences and deeply imposed stigmas. The way Jane Eyre deals with the development of her womanhood, her love life and her view on wealth are all effected in some way by her past.

Jane Eyre’s first struggle is both internal and external: being an orphan. Her role models and caregivers were constantly changing as her life should’ve remained the same. Her caregivers changed from Mrs. Reed to Bessie to Helen Burns to Mrs. Temple. According to Pastor Yau, children rebel because they “lose their confidence on [their caregiver’s] moral.” This is what happened with Mrs. Reed, Jane’s Aunt. Jane, being a well behaved child could not understand her harsh punishment in the red room when her evil cousin’s abuse went seemingly unnoticed. Jane’s rebellion is only to Mrs. Reed because she believed that she did not have the “correct priorities.” Bessie is then her new caregiver, but Bessie’s mark on Jane is purely one of subservient value. “You are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep,” (p. 9—Literature Connections) sums up the imprint of Bessie.

Because of Jane’s “rebellion”, Mrs. Reed sent Jane to Lowood School, headed by Mr. Brocklehurst but reared by Mrs. Temple. Not much is known about Mrs. Temple and her care except that she was the only glue holding Jane to the school, but At Lowood, Jane meets her truest comrade, Helen Burns. Helen and Jane was a short lived because of Helen’s untimely death, but her foreshadowing made the shadow for Jane’s internal struggle about love: “By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings.” (p. 100—Literature Connections)

The four women are the only effective women in Jane’s womanly development, but with the departure of Mrs. Temple from Lowood School, a new idea entered the picture but was not yet accepted by Jane: feminism. Jane applies for one of the only jobs acceptable for an unmarried woman in her time, a governess. Her particularly assertive but secretive means for applying for her new position shows her need for the feminist quality of aggression, but her shame, and echo of Bessie.

The position of governess is a confusing and lonely one for a girl in the nineteenth century; the governess is intellectually above her equals in status, and equal in poise to those above her status (The Governess). Jane’s position thrust her into the care of her wealthy master Rochester. When in her master’s presence, Jane is continuously criticized and often retorts with wisdom. When approached about her young pupil’s play habits, she responded “Women feel just as men feel, they need exercise for their faculties…It is narrow-minded…to say that they ought to confine themselves.” (Jane Eyre is a Feminist Novel)

Rochester is a bachelor; He courts a nearby Lady, Blanche Ingram. Lady Ingram’s love for money represents fake love. Jane observes this as she watches the elaborate parties and this is where she equates love shown with gifts as fake love.

Rochester’s courting of Blanche Ingram is merely a test for Jane. Governesses in the nineteenth century often caught the adoring eye of their male masters. Charlotte Bronte, being a governess herself could have very well been the object of affection for a man of status just like her protagonist. Unlike the hundreds of other young and confused governesses, Jane was given the opportunity to marry her master. Marriage was very appealing to her Christian influence, but appalling to Bessie’s echo and her new independence.

Courting however was appalling to Jane’s new feministic independence and her “fake love” equation. She rejects the gifts and she chooses to remain simply a sub-class being until the wedding: “I want to go on as usual for a month…I shall keep out of your way all day, as I have

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