Women History of Empowerment in Jane Eyre

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Words: 828 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Apr 29, 2022

Words: 828|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Apr 29, 2022

“Hitherto I have recorded in detail the events of the insignificance of my existence…” (99). Charlotte Bronte sets the tone of chapter X in its very first sentence: a Victorian young woman that have lived in accordance with its role in society and now transcends the reasons and motives to keep playing the part; a woman that no more wants to live in accordance with the role, but with her “natural elements” and “old emotions” (101) – when the author refers to old emotions, it appears that she is referring to emotions of a much younger lady (a child) that can look at the world with freedom (a state that Jane wants to recover). However, as the XIX century English life presents itself to women, the future is nothing more than insignificance and servitude.

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The first sentence is in the first person and past perfect, which indicates that Jane Eyre is now aware of her insignificance, nevertheless still insignificant. I think that she knows she is still insignificant because this is what she thinks of women condition in society. Women, who play their roles, pass through life in silence, as later in the first paragraph she said she did; she did not realize that right away though.

When narrating the school’s story and her eight years there, Jane really uses just a few lines, as she said she would. She describes the moment that the institution was improved, becoming 'useful and noble' (100), only when 'his office of inspector, too, was shared by those who knew to combine reason with strictness, comfort with economy, compassion with uprightness.' (99-100). Note that she uses words often used to describe good qualities of men. The gentlemen erected, the walls of which she became an inmate. Thus, she had nothing but to follow the role model of the place: Miss Temple. It was Jane`s duty to have a uniform life, follow the rules, be disciplined and subdued and have regulated feelings. 'She [Miss Temple] had stood me in the stead of mothers, governess, and latterly, companion.' (100). This is a very descriptive sentence of women’s roles in the XIX century: only by following these steps – created by men – she would become 'useful and noble' to society. It does not seem that she disagreed with the education she was receiving, but rather, she was implicating it to the real world. When Miss temple went away, every notion of the real world went down. Although, as the chapter follows, she realizes that the real world is not just enclosure in a building, but 'now I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hope and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had the courage to go forth into its expanse...' (101). The chapter is about the freedom of Jane`s mental condition, nonetheless, it is about the walls that imprison the women's minds; it is about who raised the walls and how.

“My eye passed all other objects to rest on those most remote, the blue peaks; it was those I longed to surmount; all within their boundary of rock and heath seemed prison-ground, exile limits.” (101). One could interpret it as the physical boundaries that contributed to her enclosure and anguish; however, it seems that Jane is looking at the peaks, the rocks, and heath as the prison-ground of women; walls erected by the fine men; walls erected by the patriarchy. She could only pass through them – in a coach – when society sent her out of the real world to learn the woman’s world of servitude. She looks at them now, as if they need to be surmounted by her, and only her. Now, if she wants freedom, if she wants to experience the sensations and excitements of the real world, she knows she will need to have courage. “I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer;” (102). She knows which road she needs to take – the white one – but yet she still looks at it as out of her hands; she prays as if she cannot go through it by herself, but needs God’s consent. Bronte raises here another wall erected by the patriarchy: Religion. Nevertheless, she is realistic and skeptical (maybe as all the Victorian literature is), and she humbler her wishes: “grant me at least a new servitude!” (102).

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The paragraph is the heart of the chapter and a powerful passage through women history of empowerment. The rise of self-consciousness and the rise of social consciousness expose the women condition of the self and their self in society. By seeing the walls, she can pass through them following the white roads. Jane Eyre, a resilient, intelligent, and provocative character created by Bronte, empowered at that moment by her freedom of thought, starts a path that will lead her to strong decisions when faced with Mr. Rochester’s, but, most important, to go away from a path of servitude. 

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Women History Of Empowerment In Jane Eyre. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from
“Women History Of Empowerment In Jane Eyre.” GradesFixer, 29 Apr. 2022,
Women History Of Empowerment In Jane Eyre. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Apr. 2024].
Women History Of Empowerment In Jane Eyre [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 29 [cited 2024 Apr 24]. Available from:
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