Jane Eyre is a Feminist Novel


In what way might Jane Eyre be considered a feminist novel? What points does the novel make about the treatment and position of women in Victorian society? With particular attention to the book’s treatment of marriage, is there any way in which it might be considered anti-feminist?


In the novel Jane Eyre, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the tone of Jane Eyre is in fact a feminist novel. With strength and integrity, Jane is able to break free from the role that the rest of the society has put her in. But is it likely that such event ever took place? Could this really be accepted in a Victorian society?


The power and integrity that Jane manages to obtain throughout the novel, was very unusual at this time period. Women’s were to clean, cook, take care of the kids, and satisfy her husband in various ways. A woman like Jane was to be put back in her place; were she belonged. The book reflects the unfairness in the Victorian society, but also how the women always have been discriminated throughout history, and even today.


When it comes to marriage, Jane is absolutely clear; she is unwilling to accept love without marriage, and the other way around. They can’t be separated. This was quite rare at a time, were arranged marriages were the most common thing, and were love was not the main part of it. Money and honour were more important than love.


Another remark that can be made about marriage is that when Jane finally marries Rochester, she announces it with pride as “I married him”, and not “he married me”. This is another example of her own independence.


It is hard to say that this book is anti-feminist, unless you believe that the author is being sarcastic. Jane is full of life, and no one can change the fact that she has her own will. Instead, you might consider this book to be propaganda for a women upraise against a society that is ruled by men, created by men, and is based upon male ideas. Jane is just the symbol for the will that every human has inside, whether you are a male or female.


But the most significant part of Jane’s feminism is her deep seeded belief that she and


Rochester is, and will always be equal. A good example of that is when Jane says (pg. 437);


“Just as if their souls had passed through the grave and they stood at God’s feet, equal-as they


are!”. And not only does Jane stand up to Rochester, but she leaves him. That in itself is quite a feministic action.


This brings us to the next point that Jane was unwilling to accept Rochester as her equal until they were levelled economically. Once she has obtained her inheritance and is able to provide for herself, she returns to Rochester for the purpose of loving him. Jane no longer has uneasy sentiments of being a “doll” in Rochester’s eyes. This shows that Jane had a complex of not knowing whether or not Rochester sees her as an equal, and that she now has got money of her own. Then she won’t be dependent on him, and she can feel not only an economic freedom, but also knowing that she can stand on her own feet.


However, her ability to overcome all of the hardships shows her strength and integrity, powers that many women did not posses under this period, and her financial independence being particularly unique. Life gave Jane many mountains to climb, but as a result of her determination, she gained strength, peace of mind, and a priceless sense of self worth. Bronte gives us Jane Eyre to serve as an example for women in the future and the need for sexual equality. The novel is frequently cited as the earliest major feminist novel, although there is not a hint in the book of any desire for political, legal, educational, or even intellectual equality between the sexes.


On the other hand, the book might have been interpreted as just a silly dream world, written by some women in the 17th century. This might have been the case 100 years ago, but