Jane Eyre: Challenging Traditions

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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In the past, as in our world today, there are accepted attitudes and traditions that some would prefer not to be so conventional. As H. Marcuse said, "Art can not change the world, but it can contribute to changing the consciousness and drives of the men and women who could change the world."� Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was such a novel that sought to challenge the established way of life of her world in the Victorian era.

A tradition Jane Eyre confronts is religion and the male dominance that presides over it. Not only does Brontë find religious individuals to be hypocritical, but she also feels it is something the weak turn to in times of desperation.

Jane's experience in the red room at Gateshead shows Brontë's fear of the masculine power of the Church. Red is universally associated with the Roman Catholic Church, it is the color of ordained Cardinals.

The bed itself as described by Jane "stood out like a tabernacle in the center...;"� the rest of the room, drapes, bed covers, and carpet repeat the color scheme of red. It is in this room that Jane experiences a heightened sense of fear and even believes to see the spirit of her dead uncle. The scene where Mr. Broklehurst cuts the hair of Julia Severn because it is her openly conforming "to the world"¦in an evangelical, charitable establishment"¦"� later shows him to be hypocrite when his wife and daughters walk in "splendidly attired"� and with their hair "elaborately curled.

Brontë's illustration of the weak taking refuge in the church is in the character of Eliza Reed. Jane's visit to the dying Aunt Reed finds the Reed sisters in quite different circumstances from their last encounter. Eliza, now without any family money, is in the same position Jane...

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