Jane Eyre tries to preserve her self-respect, independence and self-sufficiency at every stage of her life, both in struggling with social pressure and in resisting the temptation of passion. This statement was innovation in the literally world of the 19th century.
The novel “Jane Eyre” written by Charlotte Bronte greatly influences the reader and gives another vision of society and world in the whole. The novel was published in 1847. And it is a matter of fact that this novel made the author famous all over the world. The main reason for this is that this novel became an innovation in world literature. It was unusual for that time and created another vision of women and relations in society. The book showed all the difficulties the women went through in Victorian England. “Jane Eyre” is a rather tragic and dramatic story about a life of an orphan girl in society. She was the first who wanted to preserve her self-respect, independence and self-sufficiency at every stage of her life. She was always struggling with social pressure and unfairness, for the rights of other women.
Before studying the topic it is necessary to have a clear idea about the female and male characters in the novel: Jane – main heroine, independent and strong personality: Bessie – devotee, obedient and docile; Irgham – wealthy, selfish and arrogant; John Reed – cruel and violent Jane’s brother; Rochester – complicated personality, cold, detached but he loves Jane.
One can hardly disagree that part of Jane’s individual fight is to find her place and position in the middle class. Jane must also come to understand her position vis-à-vis Victorian poverty, and that concern with poverty, as with the other social problems that arise in this novel, becomes an important point to her character. The book showed many aspects of Victorian life which were the most important. It showed, of course, the eternal problems between men and women, treatment of children in orphanages. It also combined religious problems with finding selfhood. It contained the everlasting nature of true love and responsibility.
The main heroine of the novel is a strong personality. Jane tried to survive in her awful world; she was really oppressed in the orphanage and by the Reeds. Jane was weak in the beginning, because she was too little to struggle with unfairness. She always obeyed to the more powerful grown-ups. She had no rights at all and she wasn’t even a personality: Accustomed to John Reeds abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it; my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult. (Bronte 94)
Jane is a sensitive girl, but she always showed her strengths in defense against John, who was a real tyrant and despot. Though she came across a lot of obstacles she withstood this situation and tried to relive it and to define her identity: Wicked and cruel boy! You are like a murderer you are like a slave driver you are like the Roman emperors! (Bronte 94)
Jane understood that she would always face class differentiation by gender and religion. And again Jane was strong-willed and fought bravely with her oppressors. It is a common knowledge that Jane faced poverty living in a rich family. Jane thought that love was the most important thing in our life and a person should always love somebody, because love makes people more sensitive and human. Later Jane was presented a Christian philosophy by her friend Bessie. She was told that person had to forgive and to endure all smoothes and roughs of the life. Jane didn’t understand such ideas as she thought that the person had to stand up ant fight for itself. Jane wanted to create her own spiritual norms of behavior.
Jane’s conflict was rather clear. She wanted to live a life full of action and independence; she didn’t want to be oppressed any more. She could understand women who were pleased with such humiliating position: It is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures [men] to say that [women] ought to confine themselves to making pudding and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. (Bronte 94)
She wasn’t beautiful, but she had other virtues, which were more important and valuable than pretty appearance. But her strong personality and inadequacy couldn’t make up for her poverty. She understood that and it hurt her. And it was wealthy and beautiful Irgham who always reminded her about her position. So wealthy people didn’t consider poor ones equal. And it was one problem for Jane to overcome. She understood an awful truth of independent life. It means to have no house and no food, no friend. It means to be alone like a social outcast and to give up all dignity and fair.
But Jane had some victories in her life. Despite her being neglected poor orphan she became a headmistress. It was a real achievement in her desire to be independent and free. She proved herself that she was worthy. Jane always believed in God and she wanted to combine religion and society together. She even wanted to become a Christian missionary and to serve people. But she rejected this idea, because she didn’t want to become John’s tool fro serving.
In the end of the novel Jane got married with Rochester. But she established a new kind of marriage, which was uncommon for those times – a liberal marriage. The main characteristics of such marriage were financial independence, love and respect, self-esteem and dignity. Jane’s love was really strong and brave. She loved her husband despite his losing eyesight and one hand in a fire. And his blindness made them closer to each other. She was his eyes and his right hand. Jane was his world. She combined love and independence in here marriage. Now she was happy: To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. (Bronte 94)
One can come to conclusion that it was Jane who showed a new way of life for all women. She was an innovator. She told women not to forget about their self-respect and their independence. And at the end Jane was pleased, because she achieved everything she wanted – love and independence: I am an independent woman now.
Charlotte, Bronte. Jane Eyre. UK: Pengium Books LTD, 1994.