The novel Jane Eyre was written to show people the hypocrisy and the social injustice of the time. This book highlight issues such as religion, poverty, education, women and marriage. First I’m going to talk about poverty, Bronte felt that poor people were treated unfairly as she shows by making Jane an orphan with not a penny to her name. Jane is treated very cruelly by her wealthy aunt, which is shown when she tells her own son (Jane’s cousin) that Jane is not good enough for them: ‘she is not of worthy notice; I do not choose that either you or your sisters should associate with her’.
Bronte felt that rich people felt no duty towards the poor and were happy for them to end up in workhouses or poor houses, swept with disease where they would eventually be ‘taken care of’. In the first chapter a servant also tells Jane ‘you are less than a servant for you do nothing for your keep’. As a consequence of her experiences Jane is almost terrified of being poor probably due to the lack of love and compassion from her so called family so she show this by saying ‘I should not like to belong to poor people….
I should not like to go a – begging’. When she is taken ill the servant looking after her insensitively sings a song called ‘poor orphan child’ which describes god as the child’s only friend it also describes feelings of loneliness. Throughout the novel, Jane struggles to find the right balance between moral duty and earthly pleasure. She encounters three main religious figures: Mr Brocklehurst, Helen Burns and St. John Rivers.
Brocklehurst’s hypocritical support of his own luxuriously wealthy family at the expense of the Lowood students illustrates the danger and hypocrisy of the time. He also takes great pleasure in humiliating one of Jane’s classmates by telling her to cut her naturally curly hair so it will lie straight this is completely un – Christian. Helen Burns faith is too passive for Jane although she loves and admires Helen for it. St. John Rivers type of faith is very ambitious and glorious which Jane does not take on because she feels it would be disloyal to herself.
However Jane does have faith when she is on the heath wandering starving and exhausted she prays to god, she also refuses to live with Rochester while he is still viewed as married. Jane manages to find some kind of middle ground that is not hateful like Brocklehurst but is neither requiring you to retreat from everyday life like Helen Burns and St. John Rivers. When Jane is employed as a governess at Thornfield she is required to have the culture, manners, sophistication and education of the aristocracy but because they were paid employees they were basically treated as servants.
Jane becomes very aware of this difference when she starts to develop feelings for Rochester as she is his intellectual but not a social equal and so if they did marry she would feel indebted to him. Jane herself speaks out against class prejudice at certain moments for example, in Chapter 23 she says to Rochester: ‘Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! -I have as much soul as you-and full as much heart!
And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. ‘ However social boundaries are never bent and she can only marry Rochester when she becomes his equal and comes into her own wealth. There are three main characters that in some way treat Jane unfairly because she is a woman and they are Mr Brocklehurst, Edward Rochester and St. John Rivers. Jane must escape Brocklehurst, reject St. John, and come to Rochester only after ensuring that they may marry as equals.
She will not depend solely on Rochester for love and she can be financially independent. Furthermore, Rochester is blind at the novel’s end and thus dependent upon Jane. During Jane’s life there are many characters and events which discriminate against her because she is poor, a women, thought to be un – educated and un – religious. However she over comes all these obstacles in one way or another and she is eventually happy in love and life, pretty much showing you can over come anything.