An Interpretation of Female Consciousness in Jane Eyre
Hongping Chen 1 and Haoshan Niu.2
1Professor in School of Foreign Languages, North China Electric Power University, NO 689 Road, North District, Baoding, Hebei, China
2Graduate Student in School of Foreign Langages, North China Electric Power University, NO 689 Road, North District, Baoding, Hebei, China
Abstract: Jane Eyre is a novel which was published in London in 1847 by Charlotte Bronte (1861-1855). From the perspective of feminism, this book shows the heroine Jane Eyre's qualities of being strong, independent and daring to resist and pursue what she wants. This paper interprets the feminism of Jane Eyre from the perspective of the female images. This paper have five parts. The first part is about the general introduction. The second part is about The Embodiment of Feminism in Jane Eyre. The third part is about The Embodiment of Feminism in Jane Eyre. The fourth part is about Jane's Characters Under the Historical Background. In the last , the author makes a summary.
Keywords: Jane Eyre; feminism.
Jane Eyre is the work of Charlotte Laurent, an English writer in the 19th century. It was written under the social background of the prevalence of masculinity. Therefore, the novel received extensive attention when it was first published, and people's evaluation of it was uneven. Some people think it is a challenge to male power and needs to be strictly resisted. Some advanced scholars believed that this is an ideological liberation, a publicity of feminism and a driving force for social progress. No matter how bold and critical the author of this work was at that time, people could not help but sigh for our great point of view at that time. Jane Eyre mainly focuses on the life of the protagonist Jane Eyre. It tells the story of the protagonist Jane Eyre living in poverty since childhood in Britain with extremely low female status. Her parents died when she was very young, so she can only be fostered in her uncle's house. After her uncle died, she was abused, and then rose up to resist and finally achieved happiness and dignity. Some people say that this work is a portrayal of the author himself. It is a realistic novel with strong romantic color. The whole novel mainly pursues two goals: one is not to yield to injustice. The second goal is desiring for freedom and equality and the longing for beauty. Jane Eyre expresses the pursuit of women in the whole society in the image of the protagonist Jane Eyre.
The Embodiment of Feminism in Jane Eyre
When Jane was a little girl, she was fostered in her uncle's house and bullied by her aunt and cousin. In particular, her cousin is regarded as a symbol of patriarchy in the children's world. It is common for her cousin to beat and abuse her. She once denounced her cousin loudly: "you are a bad boy! You are a killer, just like the cruel Roman Emperor!" This shows the rebellious spirit of Jane Eyre since she was a child. It was because of Jane's rebellion that she was sent to an orphanage. The head of the orphanage, Brockhes, was dark and full of hatred. He abused girls in the orphanage, and the children in the orphanage must obey him. But Jane didn't like other girls to obey, so she fought back bravely. The unfortunate experience in the orphanage gave Jane Eyre more courage to decide to resist the cruel society and fight for more rights and interests for herself.
Although she is an ordinary and humble woman, she still unremittingly pursues pure love. She believes that marriage should be based on love, not money, appearance and status. She loved Rochester. Even if Rochester lost his eyesight later, she still didn't hesitate to marry him and take care of him. This is Jane's embrace of love. It has nothing to do with money or status. Although Jane refused Rochester's proposal, she believed she would find her true happiness. In Jane Eyre's opinion, women should bravely pursue their happy love like men. Women cannot exist as accessories of men. Women should pursue their own love and happiness on the premise of independence.
Charlotte Bronte breaks the traditional aesthetic taste of the public for the heroine of the novel. Instead of describing Jane Eyre as a woman with outstanding appearance, she attracts the readers' attention to Jane Eyre's characteristics. Jane Eyre bravely pursues the life she wants with her tenacious will and unremitting efforts. This prominent character image has aroused strong resonance among the majority of readers.
The Limitation of Feminism in Jane Eyre
The female consciousness in Jane Eyre has limitations, which is because Jane's age does not have enough ideological theories to support the female independence movement, and Jane's germination of female self-consciousness depends on the traditional religious theory. In essence, Jane's female consciousness was supported by the idea of theocracy, an important pillar of the patriarchal society at that time.
Jane Eyre reposes Charlotte's rebellious spirit. Victorian women in Britain have always been thought as "family angels". Women's self-worth can only be realized by finding a family controlled by men. Jane Eyre tries to get rid of the state of being attached to men, refuses to be only a competent wife and mother, and believes that women can also realize their self-worth through efforts. Therefore, Jane's performance in the study of schoolwork and other skills is different from that of women at the same time. Although she was abused by foster relatives since childhood and persecuted by teachers in boarding schools, Jane still dares to resist injustice and safeguard her own interests.
After Jane had a job, she soon realized that economic independence was the premise of women's independence. Jane lives independently on her own efforts. Even after falling in love with Rochester, she didn't give up her job and refused all the money given by Rochester. Jane is not satisfied with the huge gap between her and Rochester. What she wants is to have enough wealth to support her life and narrow the economic gap between her husband and herself, so that she can have the same status as her husband in marriage. After leaving Thornfield, she still chose to find a job that could support herself. Jane's pursuit of economic independence is the embodiment of her female consciousness. Economic independence allows her to retain the rare self-confidence of contemporary women in her love with Rochester.
However, Jane puts economic independence on the premise of love and marriage, which is also a prominent manifestation of the limitation of her female consciousness. Jane is still under the gaze of men. She regards wealth, class and beauty as the cornerstone of marriage and fails to get rid of the barriers of traditional ideas. Jane praised the pure beauty of her heart and pursued equal love. She never felt inferior to Rochester and remained calm and self-esteem towards her rival. She fell in love with Rochester because Rochester was willing to treat Jane equally, so Jane dared to propose to her husband regardless of the gap in age, class and wealth. She left Thornfield because she mistakenly thought that Rochester didn't think they had the same heart and soul. However, this constant vigilance about whether the two sides are equal or not also exposed Jane's resentment about their unequal class status. Therefore, after inheriting her uncle's huge property, Jane will say to Rochester, "I am an independent person now. The change of objective conditions makes Jane regain self-confidence in love. However, women's independent consciousness should not be determined by the change of objective conditions. Jane's self-worth still depends on Rochester, and the expression of women's consciousness is not enough.
Jane's Characters Under the Historical Background
Jane was born in Britain in the 19th century. This was a hierarchical patriarchal society, and women's social status was extremely low. However, this work does not write the current situation of today's society, but reveals the strong color of feminism. This shows that the era of oppression has entered the awakening, and people have been trying to change the status and strive for more rights. In this novel, the author portrays Jane Eyre as a rebellious and independent female image. In the era of serious social stratification, this work reflects the awakening of women's independent consciousness in the 19th century. It is a sign of the beginning of female literary criticism.
The novel is the representative work of Charlotte Bronte in the 19th century. Charlotte Bronte wrote this new female image and the desire for female life with her unique female consciousness. It breaks the dominant position of male characters in traditional novels and shapes a distinctive feminist from a unique perspective. From the perspective of feminism and social rebellion, this work strongly emphasizes the subversion of patriarchy in modern literature. Today, Jane Eyre still affects contemporary women. It encourages women to pursue equality and freedom and constantly strive for more legal rights.
The ending of Jane Eyre is happy, and Jane Eyre's ending is happy. Charlotte Bronte's portrayal of Jane Eyre is full and three-dimensional. Without family background, happy childhood, outstanding appearance and social status, Jane Eyre achieved happiness with her will, kindness and wisdom. Charlotte Bronte created a female model who dare to resist social injustice, strive for personality independence and pursue happiness, which was of special significance in that era.
Bronte， Charlotte.( 2008). Jane Eyre. Beijing: Central Compilation & Translation Pres.［2］Teachman， Debra. Understanding Jane Eyre. Beijing: Central People’s Publishing House， 2008.
朱兴旺 段 薇 李梦雅 / 成都信息工程大学银杏酒店管理学院
康国卿. 河北师范大学外语教学部. 论《简·爱》和《飘》的女性意识比较.