Social Class and Social Rules in Jane Eyre

  • Created by: lydia82
  • Created on: 21-01-19 19:42
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  • Social Class and Social Rules in Jane Eyre
    • Main Points
      • In the 19th Century, Britain was divided into social classes and people usually stuck in the ones they were born into
      • In Gateshead and Thornfield, Jane owns a position in between classes
        • She interacts with everyone from working class to aristocrats
        • Because of the vast social landscape, Brontë can explore the sources and consequences of class boundaries
          • Eg. class difference causes problems for Jane and Rochester's relationship
      • Bronte tries to show that personal virtues show a person better than class
      • Jane is unwilling to become a powerless outcast for love so rejects Rochester at first because she doesn't want to be his mistress
    • You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, 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. Chap. 1
      • Here, John belittles her as she tries to take a book to read from the family collection- she is not valued as a family member
      • His opinions of her come from his mother as she too calls her a dependent- this suggests that views on social class infiltrate into young minds and young are influenced by others opinions
      • This underlines the idea at the time that social classes were to be kept separate and people who were poor were vulnerable so they should remain like that
    • I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon. I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space: "Then," I cried, half desperate, "grant me at least a new servitude!" Chap.10
      • She graduates first in school
        • For some time she feels trapped in the oppressive school because she is poor, no family and she is female
          • She is in an unfortuanteposition
      • While gasping she knows she cannot yearn for a different lifestyle
      • As she prays, she realises that because of her social class and her circumstances, there are little things that she can do to give her liberty
      • She accepts the fact that wherever she goes she will feel oppressed
    • I don't think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience. Chap.14
      • Here she is talking to Rochester
      • This is in their first long conversation
      • On one hand she feels a connection with him and appreciates the fact he wants to talk to her as an equal
      • Here, she takes the time to stress that equality is not something you can do on and off, if Rochester really wants to treat her well he must listen to everything she has to say on matters, even gender relations
      • Just because Rochester has traveled, don't mean he knows more than her
    • "He is not to them what he is to me," I thought: "he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine;—I am sure he is—I feel akin to him—I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him … Chap.17
      • Jane is at a party hosted by Rochester and she is watching him interact with his guests
      • Jane feels alienated by the wealthy
        • But she sees the way he acts with others and realises maybe he belongs with her more than people of his own class and wealth
    • I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps political reasons, because her rank and connections suited him; I felt he had not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill adapted to win from him that treasure. This was the point—this was where the nerve was touched and teased—this was where the fever was sustained and fed: she could not charm him. Chap. 18
      • Jane can't really understand why Rochester wants to marry Blanche
        • These concepts are too distant for Jane for her to be able to understandthe motives behind upper class behaviour
      • She is observing Rochester and Blanche from afar
      • Jane is invisible to the rest of the guests
      • Here, she resigns herself from to losing Rochester to social norms in terms of marriage but she doesn't resign herself to not being able to still win his heart
    • Untitled
    • What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell: it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face. Chap.26
      • Here, she is describing the first sight of BERTHAA, Rochester's legal wife oooooo
      • Bertha the ***** aint described as a human her, instead she is like an animal
        • She is described like this because she doesn't have a social class and she barely acts like a proper woman so the book has no choice but to describe her like an animal
    • Again the surprised expression crossed his face. He had not imagined that a woman would dare to speak so to a man. For me, I felt at home in this sort of discourse. I could never rest in communication with strong, discreet, and refined minds, whether male or female, till I had passed the outworks of conventional reserve, and crossed the threshold of confidence, and won a place by their heart's very hearthstone. Chap.32
      • Here, Jane is talking to St John about his feelings towards Rosamond
      • He is surprised that Jane speaks to him in such a manner about private issues
      • Social custom at the time made it certain that very few women could talk about private topics with a man


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