Jane Eyre Analysis on Social Class

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The novel Jane Eyre is not simply a romantic story. Instead, it is a novel about what was going on in Victorian England at that time in relation to changes in class and status. After digging deeper into the story, one can see that the main character Jane is trying to find her place in life (Chaurasiya).

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The Victorian era which was known for being very rigid and had a strict social order to it. People who were wealthy were at the top and those who were poor were at the bottom. Jane was educated in upper class morals. This education became her saving grace and allowed her to transition between classes.

Janes class status was obscured even before she was born. Her father was an impoverished pastor and her mother was from the middle class. The fact that they married despite being from two different social classes was considered unusual at the time. This left Jane stuck between the two social orders. After her parents died she was a left an orphan and was sent to be raised by her aunt, Mrs. Reed at Gateshead. Her aunt was very wealthy and she and her children were part of the upper social class. Janes social class was still ambiguous while living with her aunt and cousins because she was never allowed to be a real member of the family. While she was educated in the morals of the upper class she was continually reminded she did not belong there. For example, her cousin John Reed liked to torment her and always reminded her that he was more superior:

You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemens children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mammas expense. Now, Ill teach you to rummage my book-shelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. (Bronte 5)

John made sure to let Jane know she was lower than him and he had power over her. This was his way of justifying treating her as an outsider.

While she was at Gateshead, Jane was closer to Bessie, their maid more than anyone else. Jane based her relationship and feelings about Bessie on who she was and how she treated her instead of how much money she had. Jane preferred to spend time with Bessie instead of her wealthy family because Bessie show her more affection than they did. This is further evidence that Jane was able to move between social classes.

When Jane was finally sent away to the Lowood boarding school she was excited about it.

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