Coming Of Age In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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An orphan, a governess, and now a fiancée: Jane Eyre is by no means a traditional protagonist for a novel that explores themes of true love, honesty, and coming of age. And yet, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre masterfully captures the life of a young woman in 19th-century England as she attempts to balance her individual desires with what society wants. Her life is irreversibly changed once she becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, the estate of Mr. Rochester. The two fall in love, and are quickly engaged. Soon thereafter, Jane 's affluent fiancé takes her into town to make wedding preparations. Such an excursion entailed shopping: arguably Jane’s least favorite activity, after gnawing off her own arm, as Jane is frugal and has been raised not to accept what she hasn’t earned. In the carriage on the couple’s journey home, Brontë draws many comparisons between Jane and Rochester’s relationship and that of a master and slave. Brontë’s language heavily features riches and themes of bondage. By juxtaposing…show more content…
Society watered her down, and to consummate her marriage to Mr. Rochester would also consummate Jane’s transformation from her freethinking self into the ideal Victorian woman. To insult society’s idolatry of a submissive wife displays influence from radical 18th and 19th-century philosophers such as the firebrand Mary Wollstonecraft. Her sway over Brontë’s work may not be conspicuous, but Wollstonecraft wrote in A Vindication of the Rights of Women that “the duty expected from [women] is, like all the duties arbitrarily imposed on women, more from a sense of propriety, more out of respect for decorum, than reason; and thus… they are prepared for the slavery of marriage.” What society failed to recognize was that love does not necessitate marriage: as Wollstonecraft wrote, for Jane to submit to marriage would also be to submit to slavery that society

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