Bronte's Jane Eyre

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Bronte's Jane Eyre, with its unlikely heroine distinguished by neither beauty nor fortune was a surprise success with Victorian audiences, her ability to find a voice by the end of the novel despite her obvious disadvantages won favour in the eyes of the readers.


"You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama's expense. Now, I'll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they ARE mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows."(Jane Eyre, Chapter1).
By uttering social discrimination through the voice of a child, Bronte establishes Jane's class predicament, and it is significant that the voice is John Reed's and not that of Eliza and Georgiana,who is asserting his patriarchal hegemony on the family property, a male declaring his rights. Jane's struggle to achieve happiness and self sufficiency is against the dual oppression of class and gender.
Jane's father was a poor clergyman, on the fringes of middle class, and her mother in marrying him had lost the name and advantages of her own superior social standing, so they both lacked a well defined social status and the situation became worse as they left her an orphan. As Susan Fraiman says, both Jane's parents were "socially ambiguous, and this ambiguity is part of their legacy to Jane" (616). This ambiguous station in life leaves her open to statements like: "No; you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep". ...
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