Gender Stereotypes In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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In Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, gender stereotypes and roles are often brought up as cages people must live in to be successful in life. However, schools like Lowood are almost one large gender stereotype, teaching girls to be ladies: to sew, to sit up straight, to endure, to be calm, collected, and tranquil. Gender stereotypes are defied by Jane’s early childhood behaviors, but through her time at Lowood become upheld. Bronte makes this point because it shows how people are shaped by their upbringing, as seen in Jane’s behavior as an adult. Jane’s childhood behavior defies gender stereotypes because at this time, children were supposed to be quiet and obedient, especially female children, yet Jane is impassioned, loud, and relatively disobedient.…show more content…
In this time period, women were supposed to be content with tranquility, inaction, and passivity, all things a governess must uphold, with a fair degree of assertiveness to be a respectable teacher. Jane believes she is “obliged to be plain” (90) and “by nature solicitous to be neat” (90). She believes that she should be refined and reposed, she should not laugh or speak too loudly, or truly speak her mind. Jane was taught these things in her eight years at Lowood, and continues to uphold and teach them now. However, she views inaction as unsatisfactory, “It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it” (114). This discrepancy in her behavior is the dilemma of all modern feminists. Jane may wish to act in a feminist way and defy the stereotypes she is trapped in, yet it is the fact that she is trapped in them that is holding her back. One could argue that by this alone, Jane defies gender stereotypes, yet her behavior as an adult woman is largely refined, reposed, unemotional, and ultimately in favor of gender stereotypes. In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte brings up several feminist ideas. However, by forcing Jane into the role of teacher, she serves to uphold the gender stereotypes she at first allows Jane to defy. Gender stereotypes in Jane Eyre are at first defied in Jane’s early childhood, and then upheld in her later years. In a society where women were expected to be calm and tranquil, even in the face of suffering, Jane’s behavior is conflicting, as most women’s behavior tends to be, and still is

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