Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender as Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester in the 2011 movie adaptation of Jane Eyre.

We are introduced to Charlotte Bront√´‚Äôs most famous heroine, Jane Eyre, whilst she is a 10 year old child. An orphan, young Jane lives with her detestable Aunt Reed and her two cousins, Master and Miss Reed. Regularly abused by her aunt and cousins, Jane prefers the company of Bessie, her nurse. Jane is sent away to a strict boarding school by Aunt Reed where she is educated and later secures a job as a governess at a large house owned by Mr Rochester. Jane falls in love with her employer, Mr Rochester, but is convinced he cannot love her back as she is his servant and he is expected to marry into his own class. Jane saves Mr Rochester from a fire which destroys part of his home and from this point onwards views Jane as a potential suitor! Jane is sceptical of this situation though, and refuses to become Mr Rochester‚Äôs mistress. Mr Rochester and Jane Eyre‚Äôs relationship intensifies during the course of the book and the couple falls in love.Charlotte Bront√´’s¬†Jane Eyre¬†is viewed as one of the most successful novels in nineteenth century English literature not only for its captivating love story but also for the social criticism Charlotte invokes through Jane’s¬†character.

Jane Eyre was written at a time when women and girls were severely oppressed within society. A headstrong character who, in her search for freedom and real love, retains a strong sense of self-worth, dignity and principle, Jane Eyre can be viewed as role model for girls today.

Jane challenges class barriers. She makes the most of a bad situation when she is sent away to the strict boarding school by her aunt. She takes up a number of subjects and becomes an educated and capable governess. She takes it upon herself to advertise her expertise and secures a job in a grand house that pays well. She empowers herself through a desire to succeed. Jane also challenges patriarchy. She refuses to become Mr Rochester’s mistress and to reap the economic benefits of this despite being in love with him. By doing this, Jane gains the upper hand in their relationship and shows Mr Rochester he cannot always have his own way.

-Chloe Simm
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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