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Social Class in Jane Eyre

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on 14 January 2016

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Transcript of Social Class in Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte created Jane to have a flexible status in order to:
1.) Reveal that worth is not measured by class
2.) Rich people can be poor in character, and vice versa:
"You should hear mama on the chapter of governesses: Mary and I have had, I should think, a dozen at least in our day; half of them detestable and the rest ridiculous, and all incubi—were they not, mama?" (Brontë

Social Class in Jane Eyre
By: Shania Joseph and Mandy Lau

Mid-Nineteenth century England was a time of great change by the industrial revolution.

How do you see social class in Jane Eyre?

Social class is present in Jane Eyre through Jane's
mobility between social classes
, to the
constraints status puts on her relationship with Rochester,
which coincide with the theme that Brontë conveys of a person's
character meaning more than their class.
Jane's Class
Jane Eyre has a high level of class mobility throughout the novel, and she personally experiences each of the 3 set classes in Mid 19th Century England.
The Relationship Between Jane and Rochester
Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester's relationship portray two individuals who are of two very distinct classes
Jane is in between the lower and middle class of the Victorian period.
Edward is a part of the aristocratic class
In most cases people of a low class like Jane would not marry those of an aristocratic class such as Mr. Rochester.
This idea of love between two different classes is usually shunned upon and therefore Jane does not show her love towards Edward. She believes he will eventually marry Blanche Ingram due to her high class and leave Jane behind.

Character Over Class
Jane and Edward's relationship is a representation of character over class. Contradicting Jane's view of Mr. Rochester, Rochester instead values character over class.He falls in love with Jane Eyre and therefore does not marry Blanche Ingram.
"To women who please me only by their faces, I am the very devil when I find out they have neither souls nor hearts" (Brontë 279- 280)
"I never met your likeness, Jane, you please me, and master me- you seem to submit, and I like the sense of pliancy you impart" (Brontë 280)
Within "Jane Eyre", Brontë makes social class evident through experiences and events in Jane's life. Jane's journey to a higher class and her relationship with Edward Rochester coincide with Bronte's admiration of the concept of character over class.
Class Conflict
According to the Victorian era which person does not belong to the proper class? Which class do they belong in?
Mrs. Reed
Edward Rochester
Jane Eyre
Middle Class
Young Jane Eyre
Governess Jane Eyre
Lower Class
Country Gentlemen
Middle Class
Lower Class
Royal Family
Spiritual Lords
Middle Class
Lower Class
Clergy Men
Factory Workers
Do you think that people still consider class over character?
Why do you think Jane still remained true to herself through her mobility in class?
Discussion Time !
If Blanche Ingram had the same character as Jane and shared the same class as Mr. Rochester, do you think Edward would have still chosen Jane?

Social class was important when choosing a spouse in the Victorian era. Like social class in the nineteenth century, what is of importance to an individual when choosing a spouse in our generation?

If Jane and Edward switched social classes do you think their relationship would still work out?

Examples of Jane's Flexible Status
What is the Significance of Jane's Social Mobility
Provides a wide range of social settings for the plot to take place
Shows the far extremes Jane has lived in her life, from negelcted child, to homeless runaway bride, to equals with her husband (Moves up in class)
Her interactions with all levels of class provides insight on how people are treated based on status
Jane and Edward
One of Bronte's main messages in
Jane Eyre
is to prove that personal character means more than the social class one is born into:
"Poverty looks grim to grown people; still more so to children: they have not much idea of industrious, working, respectable poverty; they think of the world only as connected with ragged clothes, scanty food, fireless grates, rude manners, and debasing vices: poverty for me was synonymous with degradation" (Bronte 20).
Meaning Behind the Message
Jane's class mobility:
Below Reed children, above servants
Taught Adele (offspring of higher class)
Served Mr. Rochester
Snubbed by the wealthy ladies, like Blanche Ingram
Ms. Fairfax says,"I say alone—Leah is a nice girl to be sure, and John and his wife are very decent people; but then you see they are only servants, and one can’t converse with them on terms of equality: one must keep them at due distance, for fear of losing one’s authority" (Bronte 100)
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