Jane is defined by her singlehood and her individualism. Had she pinned over romance and love, she would still be stuck in the mansion with Mr. Rochester as his mistress or follow him into the wilds. But she chooses to put her foot down as a feminist, she proves how passion is overcome by spirit, whether it be a man or a woman. Jane seems to not be one to accept double standards within her household.
Jane’s transformation of desire, from fleshly and materialistic appetite, to spiritual communion and accountability, transforms by magic the inequalities of class and gender between Jane and Rochester’1. Jane seems to have triumphed over the fallen worldly male and shown the victory of middle class women and their moral superiority.
Through this Charlotte Bronte tries to show us her ambitions for women to achieve the same victory as Jane Eyre. However, this pride in the purity of women did not exactly come naturally to Jane Eyre. She had to pay a price for this lesson that she learnt and it was Bertha Mason who taught her this lesson. It is Bertha who teaches her that, ‘only female purity can tame male demand and only at the cost of female desire’2.
Jane Eyre as a novel holds the philosophy, the duty and the right for one to defend their own personality. ‘Jane not only resists seduction; she resists the oppressions of the nursery and the schoolroom; she resists the last temptation to self-sacrifice’3. Underneath all the romance that exists within the novel, it seems to be the story of a self-sustaining individual, attacked from several angles, struggling to survive and never letting anyone conquer her.
Through this novel Charlotte Bronte seems to have created heroine that would stand as an inspiration for generations to come. An example for young women that strive to realise their self-worth and stand for their individual personalities.
Jane Eyre’s image has been described in stages. The first stage is her childhood, where her feminist thoughts seem surface in order to fight for her poor life as a child. The second stage is where we see her feminist thoughts grow stronger when she has to face a lot of bullying and miserable experiences in her boarding school. The final stage is when she is in pursuit of true love, that goes hand in hand with equality and independence. This is the final stage where we get to see her Feminist thoughts mature and find direction.
‘Jane Eyre’s uncompromising pursuit for esteem leaves a deep impression on every reader of Jane Eyre, she struggles for equality on economy and marriage’4.
1 Pat Macpherson, Reflecting on Jane Eyre (n.p.: , 1989), p57.
2 Pat Macpherson, Reflecting on Jane Eyre (n.p.: , 1989), p58.
3 Laura L. Hinckley , The Brontes- Charlotte and Emily (London, 87 Grower street, W.C.I: Hammond and co. Lts, 1947), p. 212.
4 Haiyan Gao, Reflection on Feminism in Jane Eyre, School of Foreign Languages, He Ze City, Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 3, No. 6, pp. 926-931, June 2013, http://www.academypublication.com/issues/past/tpls/vol03/06/08.pdf