Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre: Role of Male Dominance Somewhere, The Dark Sheds Light "Never, never, never quit..." -Winston Churchill If women on this Earth had given up, they would be where they were in the time of Charlotte Brontë. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, tells the story of a woman on a lifetime journey, progressing on the path of acceptance, in searching of sympathy. Throughout her journey, Jane encounters many obstacles to her intelligence. Jane lives in a world and in a time where society thought women were too fragile to ponder too much at once. Women at the time had barely any rights at all, and women were not allowed prominent positions. Male dominance proves to be the biggest obstruction at each stop of Jane's journey through Gateshead Hall, Lowood Institution, Thornfield Manor, Moor House, and Ferndean Manor. As she grows, however, as she is her own shoulder to lean on in her times of need, Jane slowly learns how to understand and control repression. Jane's journey begins at Gateshead Hall. Mrs. Reed, Jane's aunt and guardian, serves as the biased arbitrator of the rivalries that constantly occur between Jane and John Reed. John emerges as the dominant male figure at Gateshead. He insists that Jane concedes to him and serve him at all times, threatening her with mental and physical abuse. Mrs. Reed condones John's conduct and sees him as the victim. Jane's rebellion against Mrs. Reed represents a realization that she does not deserve the unjust treatment. Jane refuses to be treated as a subordinate and finally speaks out against her oppressors. Her reactions to Mrs. Reed's hate appear raw and uncensored, and foreshadow possible future responses to restraints. This rebellion also initiates the next phase of her journey. Lowood Institution represents the next step in Jane's progression. Her obstacle here appears in the form of Mr. Brocklehurst, the operator of the "respectable" institution. He made his first appearance at Gateshead Hall in order to examine Jane and verify her evil qualities (according to Mrs. Reed). "I looked up at- a black pillar!" (24) Jane introduces Mr. Brocklehurst in such a way that we can predict the nature of their relationship, dark. Once Jane and Mr. Brocklehurst go into conversation, he explains to Jane how bad little children go to hell. When asked how to prevent going to hell, Jane gives a roundabout answer. Jane knows Mr. Brocklehurst wants to hear that she will pray to become a better child, but instead Jane replies: "I must keep in good health, and not die." (26). Jane further references his appearance in chapter four: "What a face...!" thinks Jane, "what a great nose! and what a mouth! and what large prominent teeth!" This sounds more like the Big, Bad Wolf luring Little Red Ridinghood into his trap. At Lowood, Mr. Brocklehurst exemplifies the perfect hypocrite. He constantly preached for the denial of "luxury and indulgence" (55), though his values conflict with these ideas. His wife and daughters personify the meanings of luxury and indulgence in that "they were splendidly attired in velvet, silk, and furs" (57). He extends his hypocrisy in quoting bible passages to support his preachings, though these preachings and passages do not apply to his own life. He says, " I have a master to serve whose kingdom is not of this world: my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh, to teach them to clothe themselves with shame and sobriety, not with braided hair and costly apparel..." (57). Although she must learn to deal with Brocklehurst's complete dominance, Jane changes a lot during her years at Lowood, due mainly to the teachings of Helen Burns and Miss. Temple. Through their instruction, Jane learns how to control her anger over Mr. Brocklehurst's false accusations and understand her feelings without yielding to a vocal rebellion like the one prompted by Mrs. Reed at Gateshead. Jane's journey next brings her to Thornfield Manor. Mr. Rochester becomes the dominant male figure at this juncture. While in residence at Thornfield, Rochester demands undivided attention from the servants, Jane included. He insists on dominance in every aspect of his life, and he needs recognition for his superiority. Jane somehow resolves to accept his control and she concedes to him by calling him "sir," even after beginning their intimate relationship. She even goes so