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Social Class in Jane Eyre

Megan Bishop and Giulia Franceschini. Dec.2012/Jan.2013
by

Giulia Franceschini

on 9 January 2013

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Transcript of Social Class in Jane Eyre

in Jane Eyre Social Class Social Class
and Structure The Reeds Household Social Class
and Form Social Class
and Language The End. Lowood School Thornfield Moor House & The Rivers John Reed The Reeds Household
Jane is 'inferior' to the Reeds - lowest social position in novel 'lower than the servants'
Survives in a decidedly patriarchal household, however only male is 14 year old John Reed - highlights that the society was also drilled into the upper class women
When Jane returns after the fall of the Reed household - money leads to downfall and cannot buy happiness, Eliza and Georgiana are miserable. Lowood school
Jane is still a burden on society as an orphan
Repressed by the upper class through the hypocritical Mr Brocklehurst
Begins education - opens the doors to Jane, allowing her to become a governess. Thornfield
Ambiguous class standing - a governess was a social anomaly - education and manner of the aristocracy but penniless.
Setting - elaborate but sinister and secretive - the hypocrisy of the upper class and how unideal it is in reality.
Mr Rochester - represents the upper class male, like Mr Brocklehurst that represses Jane. Defies convention and wishes to marry Jane as a governess, Jane however is apprehensive due to the awkwardness of her social standing in comparison to Mr Rochester's. The fall of Mr Rochester is the fall of social class, loses everything in fire - only then Jane returns as a wealthy, independent woman (Is her new wealth convenient? She can rebuild Mr Rochester)
Blanche Ingram - represents exactly what the upper class woman is perceived as by Bronte - dull despite wealth, materialistic and hypocritical.
Bertha Mason - the other side of the upper class woman - repressed and driven wild by conventions. Does she represent what Jane is to become if she marries Rochester? Moor House & The Rivers
Diana & Mary - same social situation as Jane - work as governesses, but are more content and independent - what Jane wishes to become
St. John - as a man of the church, St.John is poor, but due to his faith is content. Upon his proposal, Jane rejects him and refuses to join him in the missionaries as she would lose her new fortune to faith. Also follows the belief society had that foreigners were dirty and disease ridden. Rejects poverty - this brings upon her decision to return to Rochester (more comfortable with the upper class man despite his flaws in comparison to the life of St.John and his strong moral sense) St.John is also a patriarch - although not in the villainous state of the other men in the novel, St.John's moral core is overpowering to Jane who is still repressed her on her search to social equality. John Reed
Jane's wealthy Uncle
Reminders throughout the novel, foreshadowing hope for Jane when it comes to wealth and social position. Jane The Reeds Mr Rochester Bertha Mason Jane
Constantly isolated due to her class, especially as a governess - awkward social position
Isolated heroine defies conventions. Not calm but passionate - fights for her independence throughout novel The Reeds
Mrs Reed: Duenna of a higher social status, repressing and punishing Jane the heroine
The Reeds isolate Jane further due to her status as a 'burden' on the family
The Red Room - Connotations of Red - represents the obstacles Jane must overcome before she is seen to be a social equal, the struggle of the working class. Mr Rochester
The villainous upper class man that manipulates Jane defying convention as the hero of the novel,.
Also villainous towards upper class women, Blanche and Adele - detests their materialistic views. E.g. the fortune teller - spiteful towards Blanche
Wealth: the only heroic trait Mr Rochester has until the end of the novel where he gains heroic attributes through his saving of servants, but loses his wealth. Jane representing the downfalls of the upper class - their livelihood is lost when wealth is missing whereas Jane has nothing yet maintains her independence Bertha Mason
The repressed upper class woman turned monstrous, 'the madwoman in the attic' - driven mad and contained in the aristocracy as a secret (are the aristocracy as pleasant and calm as they seem?) Jane Bessie Mr Rochester Blanche Ingram St.John Rivers Jane
Refers to herself as 'plain' - an attitude towards those of Jane's class as a whole?
Rejects the elaborate jewels Mr Rochester offers her, again showing her awkward standing - she does not wish to be a decoration Adele Bessie
The servant of Gateshead - servant idiolect to highlight her lower social standing in comparison to the language used by the Reeds Mr Rochester
'Fiery' - elaborate - typical of an upper class man, extravagant like a fire
The only person in Thornfield with whom Rochester talks to in a comfortable manner is Jane - the most awkward, seen in his confidence when talking to the protagonist
The way in which he addresses Adele - rude and not paternal - dislike towards her materialistic lifestyle and striving for the upper class lifestyle. Adele
Representative of the naive attitude of Victorian children - always described to wear extravagant dresses, sings a french song about a lover, believes the ways of the upper class woman are what brings happiness. Blanche Ingram
Description and Jane's portrait - elaborate and elegant, a foil to Jane completely
Blanche - white and pure but dull, no personality.
Attitude towards Jane, appears pompous and very negative towards Jane, shared view of governesses of the time. St.John Rivers
'A white pillar' - pure, honest, but like Blanche, little fire to the personality, typical of men of the church with little wealth and few enjoyments or luxuries, sacrificing his livelihood for faith and the aid of others
Foil to Mr Rochester - 'Fire and Ice' St.John is the calm, stern contrast to fiery Rochester, also reflected in their social standings. Megan Bishop
Giulia Franceschini
AS English Literature, Dec 2012/Jan 2013
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