Jane Eyre - Social Class

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Question: Discuss how the theme of social class is developed through characterisation and language. In “Jane Eyre”, Charlotte Bronte develops an underlying theme through the use of characterisation. The issue of Jane’s social position in relation to her fate is used to convey a greater message to the readers. Jane is dependant on her aunt because of her social class, and must go to a charity school to educate herself in order to be in a position to support herself. She is looked down upon by the rich for being a governess, and she believes she will never marry Rochester because of his more privileged position. Although Jane makes a success of her life through sheer force of will coupled with a lucky inheritance, the novel does not offer a solution to those in a similar position, wishing to break the bounds of social convention. Jane is seen to be inferior to her Aunt and cousins. As a result of Jane’s parents’ death, she is brought up by her Aunt Reed, who regards her as an inferior due to her late father’s occupation as a clergyman. Jane’s cousin, Master John, discovers her reading a book from ‘his’ bookshelf, and assaults her. When taking Jane to the red-room, Miss Abbot comments: “And you ought not to think of yourself on an equality with the Misses Reed and Master Reed, because Missis kindly allows you to be brought up with them. They will have a great deal of money, and you will have none: it is your place to be humble and to try to make yourself agreeable to them.” Even as a child, Jane is emotionally neglected because of the prejudices of society. Of no fault of her own, she was predetermined a social outcast to her aristocratic relatives, purely because of her genealogy. Whilst this approach would have been accepted by readers of the time as natural, within a modern society a strong sense of injustice is aroused. Miss Ingram and friends visit
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