Chosen Text: Jane Eyre
‘Consider the Role of Women in the Society Portrayed in this novel “Jane Eyre” Essay’, Artscolumbia Accessed 19/20/2018 (para. 20 of 20)
The essay offers a feminist perspective of Jane Eyre, arguing that the text challenges controversial issues that would be deemed shocking at the time such as women pursuing independence, allowing it to support the feminist movement.
The argument has great depth, supported by quotes from the text and covers a great range of characters such as Jane, Mr Rochester and Mr Brocklehurst, however,
The argument is further made convincing in that it covers a wide range of characters such as Jane, Bertha, Rochester and Mr Brocklehurst, rather than just focusing on the main character of Jane or the female characters thus providing a more in-depth analysis, with each new point set out in a new paragraph. For example, it uses a quote from Mrs Fairfax (who is somewhat a minor character in the novel) which expresses, ‘Gentleman of his station are not accustomed to marry their governesses’ thus displaying that a wide range of characters are used to support the argument that the essay is offering.
Given that the essay is arguing and ultimately concludes that Jane Eyre supports the feminist movement, it is evident that it is written from the critical perspective of a feminist meaning that the author has an interest in gender, a fact that is supported by the quote ‘Jane was different from the other women as she pursued independence’ therefore displaying n obvious interest in gender whilst providing a convincing argument as to why Jane Eyre, as a novel, supports the feminist movement. Yet this critical perspective may cause the source to be biased in favour of women therefore it may not truthfully depict what the novel is about making it less useful when using the source to support a critical argument regarding Jane Eyre.
The source lacks reference to other critical work such as published books or journals therefore it lacks credibility. Despite the argument seeming convincing as it is support by quotes from the text, it does not back this argument up with external references meaning that it may lack reliability.
In conclusion, whilst there is evidence of a strong argument running throughout the source due to it covering a wide variety of characters and points, using quotations from the text for support, the lack of external sources questions its reliability therefore it is not a convincing argument.
Sally Shuttleworth, ‘Jane Eyre and 19th Century Women’, The British Library A+
ccessed 20/10/2018 (para. 3 of 3)
The article is written from a feminist perspective and argues that Jane Eyre challenges the stereotypical behaviour of women in the 19th Century. The focus of the article is predominantly on a comparison between Jane and Bertha, offering differing perspectives of the two women. This perspective offers educated insight and strong argument as Shuttleworth successfully uses quotes to support her argument.
To convey that Jane challenges stereotypical behaviour she uses the quote ‘” Do you think?” she demands of Rochester’ to display that Jane is standing up to a man in a time period where women are expected to be subservient, with the correct use of the text providing a convincing argument.
Moreover, Shuttleworth references Bronte’s earlier writings such as ‘Visits to Verrepolis’ to convey that Bronte has a habit of creating strong female characters with a tendency to challenge stereotypes and therefore making the character of Jane more believable and further supporting Shuttleworth’s argument.
Whilst the argument is convincing, the female perspective of the text may produce bias as it is very negative towards the character of Rochester. Shuttleworth uses the phrase ‘Rochester’s frank response’ to describe the character therefore showing prejudice as the critic favours female characters and to support male characters would compromise the argument that Jane Eyre supports the feminist movement.
What makes Shuttleworth’s argument convincing is that she recognises that Bronte herself was not entirely a feminist as the critic mentions that Bronte did not think women should vote. This acknowledgement of Bronte’s position in society contributes to the reliability of the source as it recognises another side to the argument and displays this meaning that the source is not entirely focused on proving Jane Eyre to be a feminist novel but on providing a balanced argument to support this, therefore allowing the argument to be convincing as not only is it supported by external sources and quotes from the text but it is a balanced argument that comes to a definitive conclusion using evidence to demonstrate this argument.
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Terry Eagleton, Myths of power: a Marxist study of the Brontës (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), pp. 14-32.
This book written by Terry Eagleton offers a Marxist perspective on Jane Eyre and argues that some of the characters suffer deprivation and inequality due to social convention. Eagleton argues this point through comparing how characters such as Helen Burns, Mr Rochester and Jane Eyre overcome this inequality.
This argument is supported by the use of integrated quotes from the text such as ‘if it was a martyr…’ which explains how her triumph of overcoming social injustice is found in death rather than life, and compares this to Jane. Without these quotes, the analysis would lack the clarity it needs to create a convincing argument.
Eagleton is a trusted author in terms of academia with his book ‘Literary theory: an introduction’ used as a secondary source in many academic essays meaning that his content is trusted. Eagleton uses other sources to support his argument, along with Bronte’s other work such as Shirley to identify common themes in her protagonists to both back up his argument and convey Bronte’s style as a writer to argue that the message of overcoming social convention is deliberate as Bronte has used similar themes with strong protagonists in her other works.
The Marxist critical perspective offers a focus on the subordination of women and the structure of society at the time meaning that when this social injustice is being fought against by characters like Jane and Helen, Eagleton can identify this as he is acquainted with these issues, making his argument more convincing as it is an educated perception of the novel, relative to what he is arguing. However, this perspective may offer bias against inequality thus the critic may fail to recognise the social norms at the time and may misinterpret the novel because of his own judgement.
Despite the potential for bias, the educated approach to the novel using evidence to support opinion and pay attention to detail within the novel creates a convincing argument meaning that in terms of Jane Eyre exploring the overcoming social convention, it is a useful source to use as the argument is reliable.
Zoe Brennan, Brontë’s Jane Eyre: a reader’s guide (London: Continuum, 2010), pp. 33-40.
The book argues that Bronte uses surroundings within the novel to describe and foreshadow Jane’s life. An example is Brennan arguing that the red room represents the ‘extremes of temperament between which Jane swings’, using quotes to project the argument. Brennan references Elaine Showlater in A Literature Of Their Own to convey that ‘the red-room is symbolic of female inner space’, displaying that Bronte has used this particular surrounding to describe Jane’s life at Gateshead and foreshadow her development as a character later in the book, allowing academic theory to support the argument.
The argument is clearly structured, offering reference to secondary sources and the text as well as wider novels which Jane reads within the book meaning that the argument is relevant to the time in which Jane Eyre was written. There is attention drawn to Bronte’s other works to identify that this foreshadowing is prevalent in all of her books therefore there is evidence that is deliberate. The critic is very focused on symbolism within the novel, drawing close attention to Bronte style, arguing that Bertha symbolises Jane’s wilder self, making it evident that not only are objects used as surroundings to describe and foreshadow but people are too.
There is a possibility that this interest in symbolism may misinterpret the text because it may interpret something to be symbolism when it is not, such as Bertha symbolising Jane’s inner character, as it may be coincidental that they are opposites as they are two separate characters therefore the novel may not always use the surroundings as deliberate foreshadowing, it may be coincidental and Brennan may misinterpret this.
Despite the possibility that the text could be misinterpreted, the argument is still convincing because it is not opinion based, it uses a range of resources to back up the argument meaning that misinterpretation is less likely as there is evidence to suggest that other authors with different critical perspectives (like Elaine Showlater) have interpreted the text in the same way therefore it is convincing as a secondary source.
Vanessa Zoltan, ‘Silence in Jane Eyre’ Political Theology Network accessed 24/10/2018 (para. 13 of 13)
The essay is a modern religious interpretation, arguing that Jane Eyre silences women which is still relevant today. Zoltan argues that the silencing of Bertha Mason (through being locked away), is relevant to today’s ‘TimesUp’ movement as women are still silenced therefore it is a novel that is still applicable to the modern audience as the issues covered in Jane Eyre are timeless and many women still experience being silenced much like Bertha and Jane in the text, because of their gender.
However, the source does not use quotations to support its argument meaning there is no analysis or explanation as to why the critic interprets the novel in that way thus making it less reliable as it is solely based on opinion. It is a very personal approach to an argument, with a lack of critical analysis given that there is no evidence from the text or secondary sources to support the argument.
The fact that it is a modern religious perspective, depicting Jane Eyre to be a sacred text, allows the critic to understand the novel from a time period where suffering is not justified meaning that the source identifies when women are being silenced and can relate this to women in the modern day who are being silenced.
However, the text as written at a time of traditional religion therefore a modern religious perspective may fail to interpret the text thoroughly as it may contain themes that the critic does not agree with due to the modern religious perspective thus they may fail to acknowledge these properly, causing a weak argument as the text has been misunderstood and therefore misinterpreted. It is because of this potential for misinterpretation along with a lack of evidence and secondary sources, that the argument is not convincing.