Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre's Flight From Flight

"There was an unspeakable charm in being told what to do, and having everything decided for her"

--George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

The feminist literary critics, Gilbert and Gubar, claim, in their famous essay on Jane Eyre in The Madwoman in the Attic, that Jane tries different modes of escape from the imprisoning patriarchal Victorian society that is the setting of the novel. "Escape through flight, escape through starvation... [and] escape through madness," (Dialogue 341) are the three they outline. In the traumatizing red room scene, Jane tries all of them, and then, as the novel progresses, each is given an entire section. She uses flight to escape from Gateshead, starvation to escape Lowood, and madness (via Bertha, Gilbert and Gubar argue) to escape from Thornfield Hall. But where is Jane aiming to go when she escapes? Gilbert and Gubar don't quite answer this, they say she is simply escaping from "the strictures of a hierarchal society" (Dialogue 369). They claim that Charlotte Bronte could not "adequately describe a society so drastically altered that the matured Jane and Rochester could really live in it" (Dialogue 370). This conclusion defines Jane as an ultimately...

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