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Society Essay, Research Paper

Shelley Abernethy April 1, 1999 CP English IV Ms. Wade Society Often writers create works which are parallel to their societies in which they live. Charlotte Bronte was one of those authors. In most of her books she used elements of her life experiences even though her books were not autobiographical. She portrayed relationships between men and women, school conditions, and women’s positions. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, reflects the social conditions of her time. Men and women of the Victorian time period formed relationships based on society’s standards.The upper class only associated with the upper class and the lower with the lower. In Jane Eyre Bronte the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester breaks the social rank barrier. Terry Eagleton, a distinguished British literary critic, commented, “Rochester seems a grander form of gentry, and Jane’s relationship with him is of course socially unequal” (12). Eagleton interpreted that Rochester was of a higher social rank than Jane. Because of differences in rank they are thought not to be compatible for each other. Money and power meant everything in society. Rochester was a rich man that used his power to get a woman that was forbidden because of social rank differences. Rochester spent his free time with Jane. Jane came to like these meetings and feel in love with his powerful words and actions. Abernethy 2 The Bronte family were classified as members of poor society. Bronte’s father was a reverend of meager means. Jane’s father in Jane Eyre followed the same career. Charlotte Bronte wrote, “…my father had been a poor clergyman; that my mother married him against the wishes of her friends who considered the match beneath her, that my grandfather Reed was so irritated at her disobedience, he cut her off without a shilling.” This quote reflects how people of the Victorian period as well as the people in Jane Eyre would react to an unequal marriage. Families would be torn apart and destroyed .Because Jane had moral standards she would not marry Rochester while he was married to an insane woman. Jane did not let his marriage proposal blind her of self worth. “Knowing where you genetically belong still counts for a great deal in the end”(Eagleton 55). Just because someone is wealthy does not mean that they are better than everyone else; just because one is poor does not mean that everyone should feel sorry for them and give them a hand out. What really counts is how one was raised to think of themselves and others that were different from them. One should stay true to there beliefs because being aware of one’s background matters the most. Schools were a major impact on a child’s life in both Jane Eyre and the society of the Victorian era. Brian Wilks wrote, “A combination of harsh regimine and weak constitutions caused the two older girls to fall ill”(42). These conditions were probably a result of low funding for the schools because the girls attended the School for Clergy Daughters and it was run on donations. “The scanty supply of food was distressing:

with the keen appetites of growing children we had scarcely sufficient to keep alive …

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Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York, NY: New American Library, 1982. Eagleton, Terry. “Jane Eyre’s Autonomy.” Ed. Harold Bloom. Broomal, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 1996. Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. “Jane Eyre.” Cliffs Notes. Ed. Gary Cary. Lincoln, Nebraska: Cliffs Notes, Inc., 1996 Wilks, Brian. Brontes of Haworth. New York, NY: Facts on File Publications, 1986.


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