Jane Eyre - Sexism
Uploaded by JarJarBinks on Jul 05, 2004
In the cases of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice and Emily Bronte's Jane Eyre, the ideals of romantic love are very much the same. In both 19th century novels, women's wants and needs are rather simplified. However, this could also be said for the roles and ideals of the male characters. While it was obvious that this era was responsible for a large amount of anti-female sexism in society and the economy, can it also be said that male-female partnerships were simplified from the male perspective?
In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, it is widely agreed that the character of Jane Bennet is, in all aspects, the perfect 19th century woman. She has beauty, charm, manners, a little intelligence (but not too much), and is very loving and supportive. All of these qualities are said to show the men around her that she would make a good wife. As many discussions about this story have already said, this shows a sexist ideal of the time, that women are only good for wives. However, along the same standards we find a character such as Charles Bingley, who is thought to be the perfect gentlemen of the time. Bingley is remarkably handsome, affable, rich, and extraordinarily mannerly. All of these characteristics throw the Bennet house of women into a frenzy over who will be fortunate enough to marry Bingley. While this may show a certain dominance/subordinance relationship due to the women clamoring for the hand of a "good man", it also simplifies a man's place as to be rich, handsome, and strong. Thereby, all men who are not these things are judged according to what they do have to offer in terms of these three or so categories.
In the very beginning of the novel, the Bennet girls' mother says, when asked if Bingley is married, "Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!" (p3, Austen). This shows a simplicity of role for a female, but also an undermining of any personality a man may have. Nothing is known about Bingley except that he is rich, yet Mrs. Bennet is already prepared to allow him to marry any of her daughters. Albeit she is being made fun of for this mindset, she continues to focus solely on her daughters marrying the most handsome,...