Monday, December 14, 2009

A Door Knob Away

In the society of Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, women are portrayed as submissive, silent, and uneducated, and yielding to serving males; who are normally viewed as dominate and aggressive. Bronte’s novel is a guide that serves to inform the reader that if you break the chains of stereotypes and society’s views on what is right or wrong, you are able to develop one’s own autonomy and gain success.
Jane Eyre is the character that is used as an example to show Bronte’s phenomenon. She challenges society and is continually beaten to be forced to submit to the stereotypes of the Victorian period. On the first page of the novel, the reader already sees the stereotypical view of women: silent. When Jane asks why she is punished, her Aunt, who bitterly dislikes Jane, replies, “Jane, I don't like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent.” Jane’s relentlessness to comply with the society’s unjust faculties is how she continues to gain independence progressing throughout the novel.
In Jane’s time at Thornfield, she speaks of the vanity of the thought that humans should and will be satisfied with tranquility. She talks about the imprisonment of women, behind the bars of the Victorian society, and how they are constantly in a silent rebellion, within the guarded walls of their brain, against this overwhelming society. Jane does not want to be obliged under the duties of nineteenth-century woman and their fettered stagnation of knitting and feckless duties revolving around the excited, ambiguous, and free of the fastened rope that ties woman down, lives of the man. Charlotte Bronte wants the woman to be able to exercise her mind and the strength it possesses that is always being oppressed by the society and its condemnation. This quote explains Jane’s feelings towards this “silent revolt” that women are suffering from:

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.” (Bronte 111)

Breaking free from the bars of “society’s rules” and grasping the short rope for independence that women have longed for, is exactly that Jane tries to retain. Charlotte Bronte expresses through Jane’s experiences with Mr. Rochester that woman do not always need to aid of men. In fact, she stresses that it can be the complete opposite; Men may sometimes need the aid of women. Numerous times, Mr. Rochester has been in predicaments in which Jane has been seen lending a shoulder and helping Mr. Rochester. Anonymous commented on the blog, “Everything happens for a reason”, saying that “All throughout the book Jane has in some way helped Mr. Rochester.”. I think that Charlotte Bronte and Anonymous are trying to say that a man needs a woman and a woman, a man. Anonymous recounts the times in which Jane has been needed by Mr. Rochester, and this shows how Jane is proving that she is not the coward that society tries to portray about women. She shows that she can, for once, be the provider and not the taker.
At the end of the book, and Charlotte Bronte’s ending condemnation of the Victorian society, Jane opens the chapter with the bold statement, “Reader, I married him.” (Bronte 457) This is a step for Jane, because it symbolizes her growth and final jut that entangles her from the society and its wide road that many women take. It shows how Jane has finally gained some power and strength that many women, from the Victorian period to this day, have not been able to achieve. Kersia Salazar also commented on the blog, “Everything happens for a reason”, stating, “I believe that because Mr. Rochester and Jane were in different social classes, Mr. Rochester's handicap (becoming blind) put them on an even playing field as far as society is concerned. Instead of Mr. Rochester being the sole provider in the relationship, Jane now has her place as well.” This is true. Due to Mr. Rochester’s estate being burned down and his physical injuries and Jane’s gain of money, when they marry, Mr. Rochester is now reduced in the social hierarchy, and Jane has climbed up the ladder of this hierarchy and dwells on the same steps as Mr. Rochester, making them equal. Charlotte Bronte symbolizes Mr. Rochester’s handicap and his dependency on Jane as a step for women. She lets the reader know that, in a marriage, both spouses are dependent on each other; this is the equality that Jane and women have been longing for.
Through Bronte’s novel, I notice that sometimes I confine myself under the society’s rights and wrongs. javascript:void(0)I find myself meshing with the stereotype of males being aggressive and never thinking about breaking free from those “truthful lies”. From withstanding the Reed’s vituperative manner to finding herself clinging to the bare hands of Mother Nature, Jane has fought the struggles of restricting herself under a male-dominated society, and succeeded in breaking those chains and shackles that refrain so many women from being different. I learned, from Jane’s journey, that if you continue to fight against the society, striving to be different than the rest, then you can do so much more. If you understand what morality is and build your own independent conscience, then preparing yourself for success is only a door knob away.

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