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ThesisUniversity of Iceland>Hugvísindasvið>B.A. verkefni>

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/2289

Title
is

Jane Eyre: A feminist

Abstract
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The subject of this thesis is Charlotte Brontë‘s novel Jane Eyre, which was published in 1847. I review the historical background and consider which options were available to women in the Victorian period, and therefore to the eponymous character of Jane Eyre. I found that women were not viewed as individuals with their own rights but only as property belonging to either a father or a husband. Their legal rights were practically nonexistent, and they were for the most part expected to do no more than to find a husband and take care of their family. If the women were unable to fulfill those requirements, they were doomed to become governesses, mistresses or spinsters. From this historical background discussion I move to the novel and explore which of those options are viable for Jane as a poor orphan, and which of them she chooses for herself. Jane faces all the options available to her as a Victorian woman, she becomes a governess, receives marriage proposals, has the chance to become a mistress and chooses to be a spinster rather than marry for anything but love. On this I base the final part of the essay, where I adopt a feminist approach and state that Jane is in fact a feminist, since a vital part of feminism is to battle the inequality of the sexes. That is what Jane does by going against what is expected of her and not marrying when she has the chance, but instead following her own principles even though it means she could end up a poor, ridiculed spinster. Thus my conclusion is that Jane, through her character and choices, critiques the inequality that she faces as a Victorian woman, and is therefore a feminist.
Summary
The subject of this thesis is Charlotte Brontë‘s novel Jane Eyre, which was published in 1847. I review the historical background and consider which options were available to women in the Victorian period, and therefore to the eponymous character of Jane Eyre. I found that women were not viewed as individuals with their own rights but only as property belonging to either a father or a husband. Their legal rights were practically nonexistent, and they were for the most part expected to do no more than to find a husband and take care of their family. If the women were unable to fulfill those requirements, they were doomed to become governesses, mistresses or spinsters. From this historical background discussion I move to the novel and explore which of those options are viable for Jane as a poor orphan, and which of them she chooses for herself. Jane faces all the options available to her as a Victorian woman, she becomes a governess, receives marriage proposals, has the chance to become a mistress and chooses to be a spinster rather than marry for anything but love. On this I base the final part of the essay, where I adopt a feminist approach and state that Jane is in fact a feminist, since a vital part of feminism is to battle the inequality of the sexes. That is what Jane does by going against what is expected of her and not marrying when she has the chance, but instead following her own principles even though it means she could end up a poor, ridiculed spinster. Thus my conclusion is that Jane, through her character and choices, critiques the inequality that she faces as a Victorian woman, and is therefore a feminist.

Issued Date
28/04/2009


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