Rebellion and Conformity in Jane Eyre This Term Paper

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Rebellion and Conformity in Jane Eyre

This paper focuses on the elements of rebellion and conformity that make frequent appearances in Charlotte Bronte's masterpiece, 'Jane Eyre'. The novel contains many instances of rebellion but there are also some occasions when the protagonist chooses to conform to societal and religious traditions. Thus the book would be considered by many a healthy and balanced blend of defiance and peaceful surrender and this is what turned it into one of the best-known works of Victorian era.


In Jane Eyre, we notice those first few sparks of rebellion, which later resulted in active feminist movement in England. While the novel itself is not free from Victorian strictures, there are certain moments when an independent rebellious voice surfaces and takes hold of the very proper and logical Jane Eyre. We need to understand that the novel itself is not about rebellion or conformity, as some novels of early 20th century, but it does contains thought-provoking instances which allows the readers to get a glimpse of a repressed feminist streak of the novelist. Even though it cannot be completely regarded as a feminist novel, it certainly can be termed as the first novel, which passively and rather subtly discarded the Victorian restrictions. But in Jane Eyre what really puzzles the readers is the quick and complete behavioral transformation of the protagonist when she enters into adulthood.
This was probably because Charlotte Bronte was operating in a society which would have rejected her work if it found it to rebellious in nature and thus instead of actively supporting the cause of women liberation, the novelist has highlighted the thoughts of women of her time in controlled and unprovoked manner. While in most parts of the novel, the author has exercised restraint on her urge to openly and actively speak against the restrictions that Victorian society imposed on women, there are still some paragraphs where she has been very daring and brave. For example, in the following paragraph Bronte has openly revealed her thoughts:

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it... Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine….....

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