Jane Eyre: Governess Vs Life Station
Jane Eyre is a novel of a character in which the book was named, that tells of her life and the difficulties she faces along the way in the early Victorian age. During this age the class that refers to the station of wealth and therefore right was highly established and followed as if by law. The circumstances in which she lived gave her means in becoming a governess, which was basically a private tutor or teacher to that of a rich family. Jane Eyre is a governess which compromises her station and confuses her of her place in society. Jane Eyre first learns her role in society during her childhood as well as the class system and its rules. She is a child from an eloped couple that were disowned and died which left Eyre as an orphan living with her aunt that hates her. The behavior of both her aunt as well as her cousins strengthens the point of her rank and or class. In the first chapter in John Reed words, whom is Eyre’s cousin, is speaking at her of her class when he catches her in a study with a book from the shelf, “You have no business to take books; you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg,and not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama’s expense” (page 10). This quote represents the structure of the Victorian society at the time with the fact that John Reed’s diction and his condescending attitude with which he say this quote for it is made obvious that Eyre is rank much lower than John Reed. Eyre being an orphan and poor was ranked lower than a laborer (or servant) as said by Miss Abbot in chapter two in exact words, while she and Bessie are putting her in the Red Room after Eyre’s episode of rebellion, “No, you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep” (page 11).Eyre’s place in society when she fully accepts it is at the charity school Lowood when her dear friend Helen dies and Eyre feels grief for the first time. The death of Helen and what comes after shows the treatment of Eyre’s class and what would have become of her future should she had died there. This is a quote right after Helen died by the narrator in chapter nine, “Her grave is in Brocklebridge churchyard: for fifteen years after her death it was only covered by a grassy mound; but now a grey marble tablet marks the spot, inscribed with her name, and the word “Resurgam” (page 83). Jane Eyre lives by her class of being a governess with behavior and rules she learned as a child which is confused by the influence of Mr. Rochester. When she first came to Thornfield Hall her place was still respected and treated of that as a governess. This is shown in chapter thirteen when Mr. Rochester is sitting on the couch in the drawing-room with Adele petting Pilot the dog, “Mr. Rochester must have been aware of the entrance of Mrs. Fairfax and myself; but it appeared he was not in the mood to notice us, for he never lifted his head as we approached” (page 122). It was not long after this that Mr. Rochester changes in character and attitude towards her that causes her confusion of feelings and the affect the resolvve of her class which is shown in chapter 15 by narration, “The ease of her manner freed me from painful restraint; the friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he treated me, drew mw to him. I felt at times as if he were my relation, rather than my master: yet he was imperios sometimes still; but I did not mind that; I saw it was his way” (page 149). Society does not allow this kind of behavior to the lower ranks during that time, so often when kindness and interest is shown confusion starts which is stronger with Eyre for her oppressive childhood. The constant treatment seriously affects Eyre’s resolve of place with which she strongly holds onto with the best of her ability. An example of her struggles is in chapter 16, after the party hosted at Thornfield Hall and Eyre is talking to herself, “... you have derived pleasure from occasional tokens of preference-equivocal tokens, shown by a gentleman of family, and a man of the world, to a dependent and a novice. ...You repeat to yourself this morning the brief scene of last night?-Cover you face and be ashamed!” (page 163).The struggle of Eyre’s is not just about the class she is, but that of her place in society, which was the person’s place in the world that also gave purpose, so if she is not only struggling with feelings that are beyond her place, but also her purpose in the world. Later the struggle with her feeling that is fueled by the persistence of Mr. Rochester unknow by Eyre at this point is overwhelming to almost madness that pushes her to want to break from her place. Even though Eyre is overwhelmed by her emotions she stills struggles to keep to her station as shown in chapter seventeen, when she is at another day of the hosted party thinking to herself while the others are doing the charade game, “I must remember that he cannot care much for me. For when I say that I am of his kind, I do not mean that I have his force to influence, and his spell to attract; I mean only that I have certain tastes and feelings in common with him” (page 178). Eyre is encouraged later by Mr. Rochester to change her class by his power only to find that his power was false and she would be in a worse or more disapproved of class than she is now. Jane Eyre having run from the falsehood and the danger to herself in the attempt to change her class by false power is now of different classes as time goes on by her own power and finds her place in society.The next change to her class was that of her being poor and without anyone that she knew in a far off place that she ran to after the events that followed her being a governess in Thornfield Hall. The difficulties in which she faces and the treatment of her knew class are difficult for her to accept and go through from the sheer difference of before. She went through a few uncomfortable experiences that the very poor often deal with that caused her to become weak and trouble in her place. In chapter twenty-eight, shows her thoughts and feelings after the events, she is again narrating, “I could not bear to return to the sordid village; where, besides, no prospect of aid was visible. ...but I was so sick, so weak, so gnawed with nature’s cravings,” (page 333). She was later able to redeem herself and station by working hard and result she earned her old station back with her understanding of class restored. Where it is shown in a narration portion in chapter thirty-two after she started teaching at a school, “To live amidst general regard, though it be but the regard of working-people, is like “sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet:” (page 373). At the end of the novel it shows the last change to her station by the way of her inheritance by her dead uncle whom she never met which raised her high in rank and free of the burden of working under another. Eyre is happy with this new rank and the freedom it gives her, but she could not give up on the title she wish to have before which was that of being Mr. Rochester’s wife though it was not her original reason to see him once more. It is when she meets him once more that she reveals her new station to him in their conversation, “I told you I am independent, sir, as well as rich: I am my own mistress” (page 442). Eyre went through many changes of places in society, but in the end she is most happy being with her beloved. Jane Eyre was compromised by her governess station for the corruption of Mr. Rochester caused gave her struggle with herself in the world. It is often written that the heroine can not be allowed to keep her strength or freedom, for during the Victorian age women need to be relatively powerless if not controlled. Jane Eyre is amazingly complex character that shows that freedom is necessary and that everyone is searching for their place in society, if not the world.