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Transcript of Jane Eyre
The Fresh Authoress of
In West Riding of Yorkshire she was born and raised, in the graveyard she’d be spending most of her days, chillin our sweet and maxin out cool and suffering through her sisters’ deaths at the Clergy Daughters School; when Charlotte, Emily and Anne (who were up to no good) tried to publish a novel when they reached adulthood. Charlotte got a job as a governess in Lothersdale and that was the inspiration for a little novel called Jane Eyre.
Some Important Definitions
a genre of 19th century Romantic literature (not romantic like Leo DiCaprio, Romantic like being constantly amazed at how awesome and powerful Nature is and depressed at how insignificant and powerless humans are, yet perplexed at the complexity of our souls and intellect). Gothic fiction emphasized melodrama and horror; the name Gothic refers to the medieval castles in which many of these stories take place.
Emphasis on forgiveness, turning the other cheek
Criticism of religious hypocrisy, especially at Lowood
In her preface to the second edition of Jane Eyre, Brontë makes her beliefs clear; "conventionality is not morality" and "self-righteousness is not religion," declaring that narrow human doctrines, which serve only to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. Throughout the novel, Brontë presents contrasts between characters who believe in and practice what she considers a true Christianity, and those who pervert religion to further their own ends.
Criticism of religion as a means to be cold, forbidding, unforgiving, and objectifying
21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855
Born to Maria Branwell and Patrick Bronte, an Irish Angican clergyman.
Charlotte was the third of six children: Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell.
coming-of-age story. In the past, main characters were usually older than their 30s, fully grown and wiser. Bildungsroman stories follow the main character’s personal development as she/he grows up, with the end being an older, wiser adult.
Some Important Definitions
Some Important Definitions
: a form of antihero (hey! that’s one of your literary devices!) named for Lord Byron, the baddest bro of British literature. Lord Byron’s poems were usually about some misunderstood, devastatingly handsome rebel with a tortured past. He modeled his main characters after himself. Yeah. He was like that.
Jane Eyre, governess = Charlotte Bronte, governess
Lowood = Clergy Daughters School at Cowan Bridge
Helen Burns = Elizabeth and Maria Bronte (died of tuberculosis at a harsh boarding school)
Mr. Brocklehurst = Rev. William Carus Wilson
John Reed = Charlotte’s alcoholic brother Branwell
Thornfield Hall = North Lees Hall
Basically Fanfiction of Charlotte Bronte's Own Life
Political/Economic Climate of Mid-19th Century
Financial growth for Britain
World leaders in production of textiles and shipbuilding
Cottage industries to factories – technological innovation
Rapid growth of towns; growth of slums
Workhouses for ‘lazy’ poor; gradual improvements combatting extreme poverty
1833 Abolition of slavery
Rate of death during childbirth grew with population surge
Difficult to divorce despite Divorce Act 1857
Factory Acts (47-50) helped by restricting working hours
Some middle class schools for academic women founded
New laws passed to benefit women had little effect
Focus very much on domestic duties
Very few employment options
50% of working women in domestic service, others in unskilled labor
Prostitution a last resort for many
Jane shows respect in her class as a governess; she tries to maintain a professional relationship between Mr. Rochester (employer) and herself (employee), although she makes it clear when her opinion is asked that all are created in equal in the eyes of God.
Jane is constantly in subservient positions in a male-dominated society (childhood at the Reeds, school, employment by Mr. Rochester, staying with St. John) and she always asserts her need for independence.
Through Jane, Brontë opposes Victorian stereotypes about women, articulating her own feminist philosophy:
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. (Chapter XII)