“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte: Social Mobility

A person’s social class during Victorian Era determined many things during their lifetime, including education, medical treatment, and jobs. The Victorian society was divided into upper class, middle class, and the working class; therefore it gave them a powerful position giving them authority and better living conditions. The upper class did not need to work. Their income came from the inherited lands and willed investments. The middle class community are the people who did the safer work than the working class. The lower class included people who did labor. Meaning that the work was usually not as safe as the work from the middle class depending what job they could get during the Industrial Revolution. Male dominance in the society had a strong presence in the Victorian society. The role of Victorian women was presumed to be restricted to be childbearing and housewives but was changed because of the Industrial Revolution.

Jane is a figure of an audacious lower class and, consequently, a source of extreme tension for the characters around her mainly based on how different she is treated, because of her class. The Victorian era was a very outrageous unbalanced system of inequality. Social class influences Jane’s life throughout the entire novel through Jane’s mobility between social classes.

Charlotte Bronte shows how Jane is part of the working class and is how in the Victorian society treats them. For example, in Chapter one of Jane Eyre, Jane is hiding behind the curtains while reading a book. “You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us.” (Bronte,13). This portrays that during the Victorian Society the upper class had no type of respect for the working class. The Reed Family is part of the Upper Class this implies that they don’t have to work to keep a healthy and luxurious life like any other class. After all, because of her status it constraints her relationship with Rochester. “Where do you see the necessity? he asked suddenly. Where? You, sir, have placed it before me. In what shape? In the shape of Miss Ingram; a noble and beautiful woman, — your bride. My bride! What bride? I have no bride! But you will have. Yes; — I will! — I will! He set his teeth. Then I must go:-you have said it yourself. No: you must stay! I swear it — and the oath shall be kept.” (Bronte, 292). In Victorian society it is despised to be in love with a lower class and an upper class. Jane hardly shows her feelings for Edward Rochester because she predicts that he will marry Blanche Ingram due to her status.

While being part of the lower class for most of her life, Jane has been heavily influenced. As explained previously The Reed Family treat her very horrendous because of her class. She feels more safer with a stranger than with her own family. ‘when I knew that there was a stranger in the room, an individual not belonging to Gateshead…”(Bronte,23). This clearly indicates that the way they treat her is worse than more can imagine. It influences her state of mind also in a way that were she feels more safer than a random person. Because she doesn’t show her true feelings for Mr. Rochester it shapes her into being weak and small minded. Therefore, it affects the way she sees through her paradigm.

Throughout the novel, Jane is significantly depressed due to her social class. Starting from, her childhood life to a governess, she repeats her feelings mainly based on her social class. Later on Jane Eyre, she becomes fairly wealthy, “Yes, you, rich- quite an heiress” (Bronte, 440). This determines how Jane recently became a rich women. She inherits 2000 pounds from her Uncle John which is roughly about 23070.98 USD. This clearly fits in the title of an upper class woman because she inherits the money instead of working for it.

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