“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, to 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.”- Jane Eyre.
This gothic classic, written by Charlotte Brontë, was in all certainty, a revolutionary portrayal of romance. The protagonist, who lends her name to the title of the book, was fiercely independent, morally inspiring and incredibly heroic. The consistent assertions made about equality by Eyre are meaningful, legitimate and firm. Her sense of self-awareness, along with her ability to confront injustice makes her a true icon in feminism. She also shuns the conventional notions of what a women should be and what a woman must do. Instead of regarding marriage as an institution, she regards it as a declaration of true love, something that was unheard of in the aristocratic circles of the Victorian Era.
A poor orphan and a recipient of obstacles at each turn, Jane never seeks external charity and remains determined to make it on her own. At the same time, she preserves her self-identity, and gains a sense of empowerment. Unconventional and brave, she sets forth the ideals of feminism through each decision she makes throughout the course of the novel. Her expression of her right to freedom through the following lines, will continue to remain a cornerstone of women’s struggles: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.” It is no secret that women have come a long way in the past century, and the roots of feminism along with the commencement of its expression can be appreciated through such women-centric classics.
Charlotte Brontë disregards patriarchal notions through the portrayal of the legendary Jane Eyre. She cleverly contrives a narrative that reflects upon baseless social norms, and sets an unprecedented benchmark of autonomy and entitlement. Specifically in the context of nineteenth century, I truly consider Jane Eyre (both the novel and the character) as contributions in advocacy of women’s rights. A woman’s individuality and intellect are often impugned in the world we live in. Women are considered physically and mentally inferior to men, while they are expected to act morally superior. In this conflicting proposition, Jane Eyre stands out as a piece of literature that must be read, and read again until we are convinced of the power of women.