Jane Eyre Context and Critics

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  • Jane Eyre Context & Critics
    • Victorian Society
      • Governesses
        • Often caught between upper and lower classes
        • Hated by upper-class women as they had a terrible reputation for promiscuity
          • Bronte herself was a governess who fell in love with an unsuitable man
            • Often caught between upper and lower classes
          • Unclear exactly when novel is set
        • Atypical for midle-class women to work - one of the only acceptable positions
          • Jane is made respectable when she inherits - she is financially stable, and doesn't have to work
      • Childhood
        • Upper-class children looked after by governesses and servants - often had little contact with their parents
          • Jane is unusual as a very passionate 10 year old - an unacceptable quality in a young Victorian girl
        • School attendance not compulsory until 1880 - Jane privileged because she is educated
          • As an orphan, Jane is reliant entirely on charity (Lowood is a charity school)
      • Women
        • Jane Eyre lives in a patriarchal society
          • Middle and upper-class women were not expected to work and were instead seen as homemakers
            • strong female protagonist
          • Upper-class women, such as Blanche Ingram, were expected to make advantageous marriages
            • Typical for upper-class women to be portrayed as searching for marriage in texts of the time e.g Austen, Mrs Gaskell
            • Married Women's Property Act 1882
    • Religion
      • Evangelical Christianity
        • St John Rivers
          • Eventually leads to his death during his time in India
      • Catholicism
        • Eliza Reed
          • Some critics claim that the novel is anti Catholic
            • Elizabeth Rigby - 'Pre-eminently an anti-Christian composition
              • Is the ice to Jane's fire - almost makes her agree to marry him - it is clear that she would have been very unhappy
                • Contrasted by his more sympathetic sisters, although they support the marriage
          • Eliza enters a convent and becomes Mother Superior - another route for women who didn't want to marry
      • Patrick Bronte was an Anglican Priest
        • Bronte was religious and knew the Bible extensively
    • Critics
      • 'Lady Eastlake' aka Elizabeth Rigby
        • The author has 'long forfeited the company of her own sex'
      • Gilbert and Gubar
        • Bertha is a political symbol of the struggle against the patriarchy
          • Child in dream = orphaned alter-ego
      • Rob Worall
        • 'Jane refused to subscribe to the Victorian mantra'
  • Anne Crowe
    • 'to Jane the moon is a mother-figure'
    • Critics
      • 'Lady Eastlake' aka Elizabeth Rigby
        • The author has 'long forfeited the company of her own sex'
      • Gilbert and Gubar
        • Bertha is a political symbol of the struggle against the patriarchy
          • Child in dream = orphaned alter-ego
      • Rob Worall
        • 'Jane refused to subscribe to the Victorian mantra'
  • Empire
    • Bertha = Creole
    • Catholicism
      • Eliza Reed
        • Some critics claim that the novel is anti Catholic
          • Elizabeth Rigby - 'Pre-eminently an anti-Christian composition
            • Is the ice to Jane's fire - almost makes her agree to marry him - it is clear that she would have been very unhappy
              • Contrasted by his more sympathetic sisters, although they support the marriage
        • Eliza enters a convent and becomes Mother Superior - another route for women who didn't want to marry

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