Jane Rochester is not enough. This idea
Jane seems to benefit from Mr. Rochester by gaining social status in the society and Mr. Rochester gains from Jane as she comes to his assistance upon the loss of his eyes. It seems like the fact that Jane loves and respects Mr. Rochester is not enough. This idea of the fact that women should rely solely on marriage and child, an idea of an ideal women is completely old school and needs change. One’s self-worth must be separated from one’s marital status.
‘Richard chase in the Brontes; or Myth Domesticated had been apt to read Rochester’s blinding as a symbolic form of castration that allows Jane to gain mastery over him1.’ There were several criticisms that Jane Eyre faced. One of them was by Margaret Oliphant who stated that ‘the traditional narrative depiction of polite wooing and romantic concord, women and men jousting for dominance in relationships characterised by violence and sensation. Young women reading this novel would enter courtship and marriage with unrealistic and unhealthy models of gender relations before them’2. Many criticised the book for not being radical enough. It angered many how Jane accepted Mr.
Rochester’s behaviour towards her. Throughout the book Jane tends to accept several aspects of Mr. Rochester with are not so pleasant without any resistance. It angered many who stated, ‘no man could have a right to bait and badger women like that; and if Jane had a little stronger and a little prouder, she would never have favoured him with another look of her face’3. One of the main things that has been subject to criticism is Jane’s relation with Bertha Mason, Mr. Rochester’s first wife. Berths was kept a mystery throughout the book. The only time that we find out about Bertha is through the eyes of our protagonist Jane Eyre, on the eve of her wedding night.
‘Bertha functions at a realistic level in the narrative and present implied and explicit compositions to Victorian Sexual identity’4. It was around the 1970’s that the literary feminist criticism flourished. It was during this time that the second wave of feminism was said to have taken place. Within universities feminists pressed for the recognition of females in the world of novels as opposed to the emphasis on male authorship.
In particular the writers of the famous book ‘The Madwoman in the attic: The woman writer and the Nineteenth century literary imagination, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’5, identified Bertha as the bad and Jane as the good, an indication of the psychic split that Victorian authors had used to dramatise conflict between rebellious and socialised selves. The experience that Jane goes through in the red room is associated as the paradigm of a female’s inner space. It depicts the first occurrence of menstruation metaphorically. Even though Jane is merely 10 years old at the time her emotional rebellion seems to be an indication of ‘a strain of female sexual fantasy and eroticism’6. The first four chapters of the novel seem to depict Victorian fantasies that are pornographic in nature somewhat associated with restrain.