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Gender Inequality and Oppression in Jane Eyre

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Stephanie Ching

on 2 October 2013

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Transcript of Gender Inequality and Oppression in Jane Eyre

Gender Inequality and Oppression in Jane Eyre
Gender Inequality
"' I have a little boy, younger than you, who knows six Psalms by heart...'"(32).
During Jane's early years, she's surrounded by male figures such as John Reed and Mr. Brocklehurst who belittle her and make sure that she remains in a submissive position. In this quote after Jane answers that she does not like Psalms, Mr. Brocklehurst compares her to his son. He tells Jane that her son is superior to her due to his love of Psalms and then declares that Jane has a wicked heart.
" 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 just as their brothers do..."(111).
In this portion of the text, Jane expresses her feelings on the struggle their is between males and females. She expresses her frustration at the fact that woman are pushed into positions where they predominantly only worry about knitting and making pudding. She believes that women have as much a right to express their emotions and have as meaningful positions as men do.
"' And you girls probably worshiped him, as a covenant full of religieuses would worship their director.'"(125)
Jane encounters another misogynistic man in her life as she begins to work for Mr. Rochester. He speaks down to Jane when he first makes her acquaintance.When speaking of Mr. Brocklehurst from Lowood, even Mr. Rochester holds the idea that all the girls must have worshiped the man, showing gender inequality in the novel once again.
“ ‘Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in there.’ … I was not quite sure whether they had locked the door; and, when I dared move, I got up, and went to see. Alas! yes, no jail was ever more secure.” (10,13)

This quote shows the oppression that Jane faced when she lived at Gateshead with her aunt. She was locked away in rooms and malnourished while there.
Speak I must: I had been trodden on severely, and must turn: but how? What strength had I to dart retaliation at my antagonist? I gathered my energies and launched them in this blunt sentence - …
"I am glad you are no relation of mine: I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, af you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty." (35-36)

I had finished: Miss Temple regarded me a few minutes in silence; she then said -
"I know something of Mr. Lloyd; I shall write to him; if his reply agrees with your statement, you shall be publicly cleared from every imputation; to me, Jane, you are clear now." ” (71)

To overcome the oppression she faces at Lowood, Jane not only tells her story to Miss Temple, but she also eventually leaves to find a new and better life at Thornfield.
"'Then in the first place, do you agree with me that I have a right to be a little masterful, abrupt; perhaps exacting...'"(136).
The struggle for gender equality is shown here as Mr. Rochester speaks down to Jane and asks her to come to terms with his misogynistic behavior. Mr Rochester tells Jane that he believes it is not incorrect that he exerts some power over her.
“ ‘Let her stand half-an-hour longer on that stool, and let no one speak to her during the remainder of the day.’
There was I, then, mounted aloft; I, who had said I could not bear the shame of standing on my natural feet in the middle of the room, was now exposed to general view on a pedestal of infamy.” (67)

Jane is also oppressed when she arrives at the school at Lowood. Mr. Brocklehurst makes an example of her and shuns her in front of the whole class. Also, what she can and can't do is limited to what he wants.
"Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?--a machine without feelings? ...it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal,--as we are!" (257)
In this scene, Jane finally overcomes the gender inequality she has faced throughout the novel. She makes sure that Rochester hears her, as an equal. She gets a proposal from him after this for her hand in marriage and proceeding that, he begins to address her as his equal.
This is when Jane overcomes her oppression at Gateshead. After finally knowing she will be leaving, Jane tells her aunt exactly how she feels and what she has experienced at the house. She even threatens to tell everyone of the cruelty she faced.
“We parted finally at the door of the Brocklehurst Arms there: each went her separate way; she set off for the brow of Lowood Fell to meet the conveyance which was to take her back to Gateshead, I mounted the vehicle which was to bear me to new duties and a new life in the unknown environs of Millcote.” (94)
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