Shin 1 Joy Shin Dr Nelson Honors Research/Writing 30 May 2017 Reflection on Feminism and Christianity in Jane Eyre INTRODUCTION Nearly two hundred years since its publication, Jane Eyreis still widely read and loved by readers of all ages.Throughout the novel, we find many themes that are still relevant in our lives today, such as love and marriage, religion, class status, and relation between a man and a woman. Charlotte Bronte, determined to portray the underdog of the society, shapes a tough and independent woman who pursues true love and equality at the same time. Jane is not a stereotypical Victorian angel that majority of the novels in the nineteenth-century portrayed. In fact, Jane is far from a perfect heroine. Unlike other young women of her age, Jane’s main aim is to preserve her identity and her freedom in a male-governed society. Jane does not merely follow the conventional female subject-position of the period, but strives to discern for herself, not from any other male authorities, what sheperceives to be God’s will. Here, Charlotte Bronte suggests that Christianity and Feminism are not necessarily contradictory with each other, but that these movements work together in a way that helps Jane throughout her journey. Through Jane’s struggle with Rochester and St. John, Bronte portrays the challenges Victorian women of faith had to battle with in trying to balance their “spiritual integrity with cultural norms of domesticity and femininity” (Lamonaca 246). Jane’s feminism is made complicated by her faith, and her
Shin 2 desires often threaten to overtake her moral judgement, but this very imperfection is what makes her character still so compelling and vivid after all this time. VICTORIAN PERIOD Jane Eyre was written in the Victorian period, a period when the society was man-dominated, and women were subjects to the voice of men. The idea of womanhood in nineteenth-century England was described by the image of “angel in the house” (Peterson 677). Wives were expected to provide the home environment that promotes her husband’s and children’s well being. Women were seen as a delicate and sweet, but rather a passive and unintellectual creature, whose life revolves entirely around social engagements, domestic management, and religion (Peterson 678). It is no wonder then that the readers of Victorian period were appalled when Jane Eyre was first published, as Jane’s resistance to complete subjection to male authority is shown clearly throughout the novel, defying the conventional female role at the time. The novel was radical in its intimacy with the private workings of a woman’s mind. And it wasn’t of any average woman’s either. It was the mind of a woman who struggles continually to achieve equality and overcome the class hierarchy.