Jane Eyre Ap Question

9 September 2016

Kwist AP English Literature and Composition Quinn April 1, 2013 Jane Eyre: AP Question Essay “Writers often highlight the values of a culture or a society by using characters who are alienated from that culture or society because of gender, race, or creed. Choose a play or novel in which such a character plays a significant role and show how that character’s alienation reveals the surrounding society’s assumptions and moral values. ” Women who had no claim to wealth or beauty received the harshest of realities in America’s Victorian era.

Author Charlotte Bronte – from America’s Victorian era – examines and follows the life of a girl born into these conditions in her gothic novel Jane Eyre (of which the main character’s name matches the title). Jane Eyre’s lack of wealth and beauty fill her life with hardship from the biased and unrealistic standards of her Victorian society. Jane’s plain and normal features – of which do her no good to distinguish her from the typical woman – prevent her from receiving fair and equal treatment to women born with blessed genetics.

Jane Eyre Ap Question Essay Example

For example, in chapter 3 in which Jane’s cousin John bullies her, and gets her into trouble for defending herself, the house servant Abbot makes a comment to the other servant, noting that “if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that”, to which the other servant, Bessie, replies with a remark in which she notes that she can easier sympathize with Jane’s cousin Georgiana due to her beauty and grace. Even the older women in this book don’t give Jane the benefit of the doubt because of her appearance.

Because Jane does not have any exceptional genetic features, somehow her worth as a person devaluates to a standard in which she cannot even receive sympathy. Furthermore, Jane shows the result of a lifetime of belittlement because of her appearance in chapter 26 when Mr. Rochester – the master of the manor she works as a governess – attempts to give her jewelry, squirming “Don’t address me as if I were a beauty; I am your plain, Quakerish governess”; even after he rebuttles that Jane “(is) a beauty in my eyes”, she ‘corrects’ him in saying, “Puny and insignificant, you mean”.

Jane has gotten used to cruelty and biased behavior towards her average looks, and develops a miserable self-esteem that believes the only possible way to describe her exterior is “plain”. This self-esteem prevents her from even beginning to recognize that anyone could appreciate her or find her beautiful in any manner. The society’s typical reactions and judgments shaped Jane’s self-esteem, and prevented her from receiving equal treatment as that of a beautiful woman. Beyond the social values associated with appearance, Charlotte Bronte also points out the social ideals related to the importance of wealth.

Jane seeks advice and comfort from Bessie in chapter 2, only for Bessie to tell Jane, “You ought to be aware, Miss, that you are under obligations to Mrs. Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn you off, you would have to go to the poor-house” (Mrs. Reed, Jane’s aunt, constantly treats Jane crudely and unfairly). Bessie, in other words, tells Jane that she must put up with Mrs. Reed’s punishments and cruelties because her fiscal situation provides no alternative. Bessie shows no sympathy or remorse in her advice, as her worlds bluntly put the situation of context of how it “just is”.

If one has no wealth, they become subject to whatever treatment comes to them and should expect nothing – especially nothing rightful. Later in the novel – chapter 17, exactly – Blanche Ingram, a possible marital interest for Mr. Rochester and a woman from a rich family, makes a comment of governesses in Jane’s presence (remember that Jane herself holds this title of governess), remaking, “You should hear mama on the chapter of governesses: Mary and I have had, I should think, a dozen at least in our day; half of them detestable and the rest ridiculous, and all incubi – were they not, mama? In this time, governesses hold a reputation (of much truth, in most cases) for lacking monetary value, and in turn social value. Blanche’s comment on the stories her mother told of governesses, in which the governess never receives any sort of praise, but rather always receives criticism and described as some derogatory term (see detestable, ridiculous, and incubi) displays a realistic portrayal of the majority of the society’s views on governesses and poor women – especially when taken into context that Blanche said this without remorse or secrecy when she fully knew that a governess sat in the room.

Following Jane throughout the novel, her lack of wealth immediately gives her a rotten reputation simply because of the stereotypes of the society. Throughout Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte gives ample evidence and examples of the Victorian era society’s views on the necessity of wealth and beauty in order to gain fame. Jane struggles throughout her life to overcome these adversities, as she comes into life with neither wealth nor beauty.

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