Class Structure and Morality in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre
At first glance, Jane Eyre might be seen as simply a skillfully written Gothic romance. A closer look reveals layers of gender criticism and feminism. Yet, one of the most interesting readings focuses on the layers of class and Marxist commentary in the novel, especially from a deconstructionist perspective, with a careful watch for contradictions and complexities. While confusing and somewhat inconclusive, this style of analysis nevertheless produces some very interesting insights into the character of Jane Eyre and the possible intentions of the implied narrator. However, an even more baffling aspect of this novel is the role of religion, which arises in inorganic and complex ways. The solution, then, is to view the synthesis of the two aspects, and to look at how class structure relates to morality. It then becomes possible to see that the instances of class commentary and social structure are really references to morality, at least in Jane's mind, if not in the mind of the implied narrator. Thus, while it seems that Jane's class position varies - as does her judgment of her class - the reader is never encouraged to change his or her opinion of Jane. Because Jane's morality has been carefully developed and...
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