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An Examination of Class in Jane Eyre and Great Expectations

An Examination of Class in Jane Eyre and Great Expectations. The idea of class and keeping up appearances are very important in many novels of the Victorian Era. Two such novels include Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Associated with class, the idea of gender is also important in both of these novels. Often in the Victorian novel these restrictions upon the female characters have a lot to do with the class that they are forced into. It also has much to do with the way they keep up the appearances of the class they are a part of. In Jane Eyre, we see the world through the eyes of Jane; a strong character who wishes to overcome her birthright as an orphan. We are also able to see how Jane progresses in her struggle for individuality, as well for love. One example of this struggle can be seen when Jane still lives with her aunt at Gateshead. Jane stands up to her aunt saying You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness, but I cannot live so: and you have no pity (Bronte 29) Jane makes her first declaration of independence, contending that she will no longer be a secondary member of the Reed household. Jane makes this statement after the first meeting with Mr. Brocklehurst when her aunt spends the whole meeting telling him what a horrible deceitful child she is, but in a passage previous to this Jane comments to the Doctor that she doesnt want to join any relations she may have. Aunt Reed says if I have any, they must be a beggarly set: I should not like to go a-begging. (Bronte 19) From these comments it is easy to see that Jane is not willing to lower her class just to escape from her cruel aunt and cousins. At Gateshead, Janes physical needs were more than adequately met, but her emotional needs were ignored, at Lowood things are different. Food is scarc...

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