Jane Eyre Feminist Essay - Murphy 1 Marlo Murphy Dr Goldthwaite English 222 Sophomore Seminar 4 April 2013 The Role of Male Characters in Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre Feminist Essay - Murphy 1 Marlo Murphy Dr...

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Marlo Murphy Dr . Goldthwaite English 222 Sophomore Seminar 4 April 2013 The Role of Male Characters in Jane Eyre Feminist Criticism primarily focuses on what is absent from a text rather than what is present in order to more accurately convey what women endure in a male dominated society . Charlotte Brontë employs various male characters at different stages of Jane’s life to illustrate the male attempt to silence women in order to maintain control and superiority . The Feminist lens allows readers to discern whether the absence or presence of a character’s speech and action reflects the societal roles of women as dictated by male forces . In her writing, Jane Eyre: The Temptations of a Motherless Woman , Adrienne Rich calls attention to the lack of female vocalization and assertion in the novel when she states; “I would suggest further, that Charlotte Brontë’s is writing… the life story of a woman who is incapable of saying I am Heathcliff (as the heroine of Emily’s novel does) because she feels so unalterably herself” (470) . I would venture to say that this statement does not speak to the character of Jane Eyre; rather it speaks to the mindset of society that oppressed women into feeling that they were unable to assert themselves . While utilizing Feminist Criticism to analyze Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre, the marginalization and oppression of women living in a patriarchal society is most Murphy 1
clearly demonstrated through the characters of John Reed, Mr . Brocklehurst, Mr . Rochester, and St . John Rivers . Jane’s exposure to oppressive male figures commences at an early age in her relationship with her cousin John Reed . Mrs . Reed represents a female figure that perpetrates male dominance . She enables John Reed to act in an abusive manner towards Jane . Rich acknowledges; “…the political/ social circumstances of Jane’s life are established: as a female she is exposed to male physical brutality and whim; as an economically helpless person she is vulnerable in a highly class conscious society” (471) . Jane’s socioeconomic status only furthers cements her position in society and subjects her to John Reed’s cruelty .

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