3 thoughts on “Recent Criticism of Jane Eyre: Observations and Reflections

  1. Pingback: English B1918 S18: The Victorian Novel – Renata Kobetts Miller, Ph.D.

  2. Kayle Nochomovitz

    From: Washington, Kate. “Rochester’s Mistresses: Marriage, Sex, and Economic Exchange in Jane Eyre.” Unequal Exchange: Gender and Economies of Power, vol. 12, 1997, quod.lib.umich.edu.

    I found this article in a University of Michigan journal entitled Unequal Exchange: Gender and Economies of Power but my research revealed that it has also been reproduced in other academic books. Kate Washington’s thesis is that in Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte criticizes the Victorian notion of marriage as a system of sexual and economic exchange and proposes an alternative model of marriage based on love alone.
    Washington demonstrates how Jane Eyre argues that marriage and economics should not be mixed. Jane refuses Rochester’s gifts (she will not be bought by him, she will not be his Celine Varens — mistresses were considered prostitutes, albeit high class ones, in Victorian society) and secures her independence by writing to her uncle about any possible inheritance. Jane also insists that she would continue working even after marrying Rochester, although, as Washington points out, this is ironic, since any money Jane earned would under Victorian law belong to her husband, because husband and wife were considered legally to be one person with the husband as the only legal representative of that person. Jane will also not accompany Rochester to France when their first try at marriage fails because by going “their relationship would be marked by economic dependency and sexual exchange…she would be his mistress.”
    As Washington notes, when Jane secures her inheritance, she declares “I am my own mistress,” thus redefining the term so that it “ceases to mean the surrender of economic and sexual power over oneself and comes to signify…the independence and power of the novel’s heroine.” Washington acknowledges that Bronte’s solution (her inheritance) to Jane’s problem of potential financial dependency on Rochester “addresses the symptom of female economic dependence rather than its cause: a patriarchal system of government and property law.” In the context of the novel’s time, however, it allows Jane to live as an independent and a married woman simultaneously. Washington concluded that “the novel retains a progressive stance toward sexual economics.”

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  3. Steve Mendoza

    Title: Jane Eyre’s quest for truth and identity
    Author: Christine Inge
    From: Scholar Commons (Oswald Review: An international journal of undergraduate research and criticism in the discipline of English)

    For this critique, Inge explains that Eyre earns a voice through the novel, mainly because most characters in the novel are there to silence her. Her voice (as in Jane) is the truth. Even though Jane lacks independence in wealth, her truth is what sets her apart from the others. And that begins her quest to find her identity.

    At the start, because of her lack of wealth, Jane is an outcast. Inge says that from that time period, people of higher classes did not appreciate those from the socially impaired lifestyle. Of course one of her traits to make others seem like she is crazy is her vivid imagination upon herself and the world. It drives other characters angry (or in the sense, mad) to make other people see how she feels like. Inge praises this strategy by Jane because, by her showing the world her syndical nature, does not adhere to the symbolism of masculinity. Inge points out that, “a masculine life of independence is not practicable for a woman in her time, nor is emotional isolation truly fulfilling” (p.15). Inge argues (from this quote) that when Rochester wants to remake Jane into the perfect wife, she will not conform into his ideals and would rather comfort into the objects that are more or less into her well being, such as gaining freedom and independence.

    Inge says that Jane commits no fault when it comes to the truth (no matter who she is going up against) because whoever tries to control her identity, would have to change her gender role and no one would probably have the heart to change the role that she is accustomed to since she was born. This would be the most protective and the most productive weapon in her arsenal. The Jane Eyre book says: “As his wife at his side always restrained, and always checked forces to keep the fire of my nature low, which would make it unbearable “ (p.389).
    This shows that Jane is unbearable to those who would wish to marry her and the only person who could stand her is Rochester.

    Inge says that Jane wants to find someone who comforts about the truth and to secure her identity instead of trying to discover it aimlessly. This is a good definition of a 19th century woman and a good definition on how to treat a woman, not as a machine, but as a human being.

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