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Behold, my favorite Jane Eyre: French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, from the '96 movie version. Doesn't she just look the part  perfectly? (cultural tangent: Gainsbourg's father is French  icon/musician Serge Gainsbourg. Feel free to enhance your potential hipster  quotient by watching this classic Serge/Brigitte Bardot video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB112Vbl8-A.   You'll thank me when you're the coolest kid in  college).

Inaugural Blog Assignment

Please read the following extremely brief article:

The Position of Victorian Middle Class Women

http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/bronte/cbronte/73cbwomen.html 


Respond:

In the blog comments, please write a post that answers the following
question (s):

1. How does social class affect Jane in your assigned pages (155-207), specifically her
interactions with and reactions to Blanche Ingram and her cohort? Analyze the
struggle that arises between Jane's sense of individuality and independence, and
the obligation she feels to "be good" and follow the rules of social class set
out by Victorian society.

2. Length: 2-3 paragraphs. Must include at least one direct quote, properly cited.


3. Please also reply to at least one of your classmate's comments.


DUE: Tuesday 1/10, by midnight

I look forward to  reading your thoughts!



 


Comments

Jamie Gullikson
01/09/2013 11:22am

When it was just Rochester in Thornfield, manners were very lax. Jane was seen as an equal to him. However, when Rochester’s guests visited, she became much more formal. One example , when Jane was asked to come to dinner. She thought that it would be improper, following the traditional social guidelines. “…[He] said that from mere politeness: I need not go, I am sure.” (Bronte 92) Here, she was trying to be a “good” servant. Servants do not go to dinner parties. Nor are they free to do whatever they please.
Jane had “learnt to love Mr. Rochester” (127), yet all she could do is sit on her window seat and watch Blanche Ingram charm Rochester. This was especially difficult because Jane knew that she was, socially, far below Blanche. However, Jane knew that she was superior to Blanche in every way that matter. Blanche wasn’t “genuine” (127) and “her mind was poor” (127). Jane kept comparing Blanche to herself in her own head, but she couldn’t say it out loud, for again, Jane is constrained by the social expectations of her being a servant.

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Kelsey Liljedahl
01/09/2013 7:56pm

I like how you explained the hardship Jane has when she has too watch Ingram Blanche talk and flirt with Mr. Rochester. I think that if Jane was in the same social class as Ingram Blanche--Rochester would like Jane more because like you said Ingram is not genuine like Jane is.

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Shannon Friberg
01/10/2013 10:49pm

You bring about an interesting point in your last idea about Jane comparing herself to Blanche... I think it is important to realize Jane's thoughts about her superiority in the areas of education and conduction of herself in humble, good christian ways in comparison to Miss Ingram's lavish and ostentatious show of fake perfection.

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Logan Gerchman
01/09/2013 11:22am

The conflicts of social class begin to pertain to Jane when Mrs. Fairfax introduces her to the character Miss Ingram. She describes her as an exquisite beauty with multiple talents and wealth as well as the fact that she had a particular interest in Mr. Rochester. This news had a significant impact on Jane. For the rest of the section, all she can think about is Miss Ingram—she even draws a portrait of what she thinks she might look like. Up until Miss Ingram, Jane had no reason to doubt her feelings for Mr. Rochester. However, upon hearing of Miss Ingram, she is abruptly brought back to the reality of her social situation. ‘“You,” I said, ‘a favorite with Mr. Rochester? You gifted with the power of pleasing him? You of importance to him in any way? Go! Your folly sickens me. And you have derived pleasure from occasional tokens of preference—equivocal tokens, shown by a gentleman of family, and a man of the world, to a dependent and a novice. How dared you? Poor stupid dupe”’ (163). She quite harshly separates herself from Mr. Rochester by degrading herself.
When the guests actually arrive to Thornfield (Blanche Ingram included) Jane strives to isolate herself. She avoids any interaction with the high class guest and remains alone with Adel in the study room. She is embarrassed of her status and does not feel deserving to annoy the guest with her presence. She readily accepts this situation with no qualms. She even finds amusement in Adele’s self-entitlement when she demands to be introduced to the guests. Jane is quite aware that the guest will look down on her with contempt due to her French prostitute mother.
Jane is in fact quite content with her status and even desires to be happy for the anticipated marriage of her lover, Mr. Rochester, and Miss Ingram. She is wishes it would work out because it is what society dictates. It makes sense to her. The only pain she feels is brought upon by the fact that Miss Ingram is not worthy of Mr. Rochester. She can see that they are not truly in love and it pains her to acknowledge that they will not truly be happy together. “Because when she failed, I saw how she might have succeeded. Arrows that continually glanced off from Mr. Rochester’s breast and fell harmless at his feet, might I knew, if shot by a surer hand, have quivered keen in his proud heart” (188). It is the fact that she knows how to love Rochester while the privileged Miss Ingram could not that truly pains Jane. If not for her social status, Jane would be able to love Rochester like she thinks he deserves.

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Connor Sheehan
01/09/2013 12:44pm

I like how you included Adele in your response. It shows how children do not understand an inevitable social class.

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Mahina
01/09/2013 7:53pm

I like how you incorporated graphic novel romance in your response, Jane's yearning for what is not, is clearly expressed in your last sentence, where you analyze what it is she truly desires, to love and be loved.

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Ms. Draper
01/10/2013 7:42am

Good points Logan...this is also where we start to see Jane's capacity to be judgmental--as odious as Miss Ingram undoubtedly is, Jane's critiques are also somewhat self-serving, since she herself is falling for Rochester--she's not always totally honest about her motivations in critiquing others...at least so it seems to me.

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Kelsey Liljedahl
01/09/2013 11:36am

If Jane were in the higher social class that all of Mr. Rochester’s guests are in, then she would join in the guest’s conversations and games. However because she is only a governess, she is socially not accepted to be part of the social gatherings. Jane spends her time at the parties sitting in a chair tucked away in the corner where she observes and eaves drops. When the game of charades is suggested people ask if they should invite Jane to play, but Ingram Blanche audibly says “‘she looks too stupid for any game of the sort”’ (191 Bronte). Because of the unfriendly and judgmental remark, Jane doesn’t play even after Mr. Rochester personally asks her.
Jane feels that she is not allowed to talk with Mr. Rochester. Even though she wishes to, she thinks that because Ingram Blanche is of a higher social status than she is that it would be socially inappropriate and frowned upon to converse with him. He never comes over to talk with her at any of the parties and seems to think that it is more socially acceptable to talk with Ingram rather than her. When Mr. Rochester is tricking everyone by pretending to be a gipsy, he says ‘“Mr. Rochester has a right to enjoy the society of his guests”’ (209 Bronte). However, Jane thinks that if Ingram and her were of the same social class that Mr. Rochester would most likely choose her over Ingram Blanch. According to Jane’s observations, Ingram Blanch is “not genuine . . . she was not good; she was not original” (194). Therefore, it is a shame social class is plays a major part in marriage and courtship. Jane has to be an outsider at the parties and feels it is inappropriate to converse with a man who she has interest in.

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Jamie gullikson
01/09/2013 10:04pm

Kelsey, I think that your's and mine tie together, we preach the same message. Jane was way better than Blanche Ingram, but couldn't do anything because of her social standing. While this is happening, we can see her thoughts saying that it's unfair as well.

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Connor Sheehan
01/09/2013 12:42pm

In the 1800s, the social standing of a governess was vague and uncertain. They were regarded higher than a servant, but lower than any household family member. This placement in class is the notion that separates Jane from the rest of the members at Thornfield Hall. And due to her role of governess, she is isolated from the rest of the working class. This is evident when Jane assists the house staff in preparing for Mr. Rochester’s arrival. Leah is talking to the other servants about Grace Poole and her abnormally high wages. As soon as she sees Jane listening in, however, she immediately drops the conversation. Upon this exclusion Jane concludes: “All I had gathered from it amounted to this, —that there was a mystery at Thornfield; and that from participation in that mystery, I was purposely excluded” (Bronte 167). Social class isolates Jane from both the family and servants at Thornfield.
This conflict of social class is developed even further upon the arrival of Miss Ingram. Miss Ingram is a beautiful, young woman who not only has a harmonious voice, but also has attracted the attention of Mr. Rochester. Jane admires Miss Ingram for her many talents, but is distraught over the fact that Mr. Rochester seems to be interested in her. At first Jane tries to "be good" and follow the rules of social class. She thinks to herself “I must conceal my sentiments: I must smother hope; I must remember that he cannot care much for me” (177). Because Jane is merely a governess, she tries to live by her lower social standing and diminish her feeling for Mr. Rochester. She even further follows the rules by isolating herself from the rest of the party. She simply sits in a window seat and observes the ongoing party of the upper class. She knows she does not belong with the rest of the company and tries to stay out of their way. But while she is sitting on the bench, her struggle for independence comes out in her thoughts. “He is not to them what he is to me…he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine;—I am sure he is… I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely” (177). Jane still understands her rank is lower than his, but her independence and intuition make her believe she is equal. Jane wishes to abide by society’s norms, but her independence prevents her from being able to do so.

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Aldi Dinoshi
01/09/2013 7:43pm

I like how you emphasized the fact that Jane is caught in an akward position as a governess between the family and the servants. She has no one to relate to and is therefore isolates herself.

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Allie Gagnon
01/09/2013 8:27pm

Your choice of quote worked really well with the response topic. They worked to emphasize the struggle that Jane is constantly going through regarding free will vs. conforming to culture.

Kiley Jolicoeur
01/09/2013 8:55pm

I like the way that you include Jane's border-line desperation for having a companion 'of her kind' in Rochester and how this is an example of her struggle with independence. I also like how you utilized the word 'notion' as only a student of Mr. Jones can.

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Mahina
01/09/2013 7:51pm

Jane Eyre is conflicted, by her societal conforms of feminine complacency and calm disposition opposing her instinctive vivacity and demands of equality. Her struggle to remain humble in the presence of such magnificent ladies such as Blanche Ingram is magnified by Jane's internal dialogue- "She appeared to be on her high horse to-night; both her words and her air seemed intended to excite not only the admiration, but the amazement of her auditors: she was evidently bent on striking them as something very dashing and daring indeed" (Bronte, 181). Yet with all her internal observation of miss Ingram, it is also evident that Jane wishes to be nothing like her, "her mind was poor" (127). Though she would have been happy to express her observations of Miss Ingram, Jane reluctantly kept them to herself, remembering her place, a mere governess in the presence of those with high social claims.
Jane again reminds herself to be humble as she studies the interactions between Mr. Rochester (her un-requited lover) and the dashing Miss Ingram. Jane reminds herself that they are indeed a good match. She forces herself to happily anticipate their marriage, because of course, being of the same social class, they are the only suitable prospects. But her heart yearns for more, for independence from her pre-determined life as a governess, for her love to be returned to her by Mr. Rochester, and for freedom to be equal.

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Logan Gerchman
01/09/2013 8:23pm

I like how you brought up how Jane's internal dialogue highlights the struggle she faces with her social class. From a third person standpoint she seems completely content an uninterested with Mr. Rochester's and Ingram's perspective engagement. However her thoughts reveal quite a different truth.

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Allie Gagnon
01/09/2013 8:25pm

Jane is a governess, and as the article we read states, this places her in an awkward position between the social standing of a servant, and that of a household family member. While she wants to be a part of Rochester’s family, and be included in the games and the fun, she isn’t quite as cultured as the beautiful Blanche Ingram. She feels as though does not have the right to be friendly with a group of both young and old landed aristocrats, so she hides behind the curtains and listens to them talk. Blanche goes around discussing horticulture, singing, speaking in French, and with a haughty, airy lightness that staggers Jane. Throughout the whole scene in the drawing room, Jane constantly feels lesser and plain when compared to the elegant ladies with “the lightness and buoyancy of their movements.” (Bronte, 237) Her social standing sets her apart from these Victorian ladies, and she feels as thought her individuality is trying to be repressed.
When Blanche discusses her old governesses, we begin to understand the gap between these people and Jane. Blanche exclaims, “I have just one word to say of the whole tribe; they are a nuisance!” (246) A diatribe of mocking banter regarding governesses continues. This pierces Jane’s core—though she tries not to let it show. Jane is used to being an independent person, one who desires equality. She has known the joys of conversing with Mr. Rochester, but now he only seems to have eyes for Ingram. This confusing action on his pat causes Jane to rethink all of her hopes for a more exciting life and possibilities for independence. She feels she must play her role in society, that of a governess, and conform to all that is required of her—nothing more. However, she still has that rebellious spark in her and her individual spirit. These haughty visitors will not cruelly repress her for long.

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Ms. Draper
01/10/2013 7:46am

Allie I like how you point out how Rochester seems to betray Jane in this section--after making a point of conversing with her like an equal, he now seems to be abiding by the shallower rules of society by pursuing a woman who is not his intellectual equal.

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Kiley Jolicoeur
01/09/2013 8:48pm

I found the two most telling examples of the 'glory' of social class to be displayed by Adèle and Miss Ingram. Jane's reactions to them show her own rather negative opinions of the social classes she witnesses, as well as her struggle between her sense of independence and her obligation to respect the rules of the social classes.
Adèle is excited as only a child can be at the arrival of Mr. Rochester's peers; she finds the dazzle of these rich people exciting. "You are not to suppose, reader," Brontë tells us, "that Adèle has all this time been sitting motionless on the stool at my feet: no; when the ladies entered, she rose, advanced to meet them, made a stately reverence , and said, with gravity,-- 'bon jour, mesdames' " (Brontë 175). Here we see Adèle's desire to impress and join the ranks of these ladies; she respects and admires them. Jane's rather dry tone shows her low opinion of Adèles glorification of the ladies, and, in fact, of the ladies themselves. In turn, we see her distaste of the fact that she is considered lower than these shallow women.
This low opinion of the ladies shows again in multiple scenes, specifically when Adèle announces that she sees Mr. Rochester returning to the Hall without either his horse or Pilot. When it is realized that this isn't Rochester, Miss Ingram shows irrational, shallow anger towards Adèle. " 'Provoking!' exclaimed Miss Ingram: 'you tiresome monkey!' (apostrophising Adèle) 'who perched you up in the window to give false intelligence?' and she cast on me an angry glance, as if I were in fault" (191). Miss Ingram's reaction to Adèle's announcement is ridiculous; her anger at Adèle is shallow because she's just a little girl that mistook one person for another at a considerable distance. Jane recounts this scene with a matter-of-fact tone, telling it as it happened, and thus suggesting that she believes it is enough evidence of Miss Ingram's character faults.

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Kallie Moulton
01/09/2013 9:13pm

I think you do a good job of showing Jane's dislike of social classes and how, despite trying to conform, she views herself as superior to Miss Ingram because she is genuine and not shallow.

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Kyle Barboza
01/09/2013 10:35pm

I like how you portray Adele as the middle point for Jane's arguemental nature. You also describe the emotional responses of the characters as they interact in a contradicting manner. While showing Adele's wishes to be among their ranks, you show how Jane wishes to be of higher rank, not for the impression made by the women, but because of her desie to be accepted.

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Kallie Moulton
01/09/2013 8:58pm

Social class causes Jane to feel like an outsider among Mr. Rochester and his guests. When Jane and Rochester had first met, they established themselves as equals, however, the reality of their different social standings returns when Blanche Ingram and the others arrive at Thornfield. Jane sees the glamour and the wealth and realizes she will never be a part of this world that Rochester lives in. When he invites her to join the party she hides herself in a corner of the room. She does not speak to him because she feels it would be inappropriate and does not want to interrupt him with his friends, forgetting that she had in fact been one of them a few weeks prior. When Rochester asks why she did not approach him Jane replies: “I did not wish to disturb you, as you seemed engaged, sir” (Bronte 189), with a formality she would not have normally used with him. Jane is reminded that she does work for Rochester, and will always be below him.
Their differing social classes continue to drive a wedge between Jane and Rochester, as Jane realizes where each of them stands. The aspects of the upper class that she loathes, he embraces. He is going to marry Blanche for her money and her connections. There is no “passion in his sentiments towards her...He had not given her his love...her qualifications were ill-adapted to win from him that treasure” (195). The thought of this tortures Jane because she realizes that if she was part of the upper class, Mr. Rochester would surely choose her over Blanche. Jane struggles to understand the motives behind this way of living. She feels that if she was in Rochester’s position she would marry for love, not for power and money. However, Jane questions her reasoning. “The very obviousness of the advantages to the husband’s own happiness offered by this plan convinced me that there must be arguments against its general adoption of which I was quite ignorant: otherwise I felt sure all the world would act as I wished to act” (196-97). As Jane begins to realize the extent of she and Rochester’s differences, she struggles to better understand his world while upholding her own values.

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Cailyn Ludwig
01/09/2013 9:43pm

It's interesting how you keep coming back to the fact that Jane and Rochester initially established themselves as equals, and how Jane has to deal with this and the fact that society deems them unequal. I think you did a really nice job illustrating her internal struggle through what she 'knows' to be true and what she wishes to be true.

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Cailyn Ludwig
01/09/2013 10:00pm

Jane, as a governess, is essentially put back in the role of a child. Generally, she is to not speak unless she is spoken too, though technically she is not a servant. There is a great parallel in the way she is not considered family at Thornfield as she was disowned by her Aunt Reed. In this regard, she is used to being very independent while holding a high regard to servitude and seeking to do what is asked and expected of her. She further recognizes this attitude of contempt and distance from 'family' toward Adele and therefor places herself deeper into the role of underling, someone who she sees to be undeserving as that is what she has been taught of members of a lower class.
Jane's real struggle is only inflicted upon her by Ingrid Graham and herself-- not Rochester. She has a hard time believing his feelings for her are true, as she knows the conventions of a Master and his governess. Ingrid only further insists upon this illusion as she degrades Jane and outwardly notes their differences, and the fact that Ingrid herself is better and more worthy of Rochester since she comes from a higher-class background. Jane hits a low point for the side of her independence from these social conventions when she gives in and belittles herself. “'You,' I said, 'a favorite with Mr. Rochester? You gifted with the power of pleasing him? You of importance to him in any way? Go! Your folly sickens me. And you have derived pleasure from occasional tokens of preference—equivocal tokens, shown by a gentleman of family, and a man of the world, to a dependent and a novice. How dared you? Poor stupid dupe!-- Could not even self-interest make you wiser? […] It does good to no woman to be flattered by her superior; who cannot possibly intend to marry her.”’ (Bronte 162-163).

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Michelle
01/09/2013 10:40pm

I like how you used Mrs. Reed's household as an explaination for Jane's independence and her understanding of "getting the job done". I also like how you stated that Jane "placed herself deeper in the role of underlying" because of what she had learned from her social class. :)

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Joshua
01/09/2013 10:08pm

Jane is the daughter of a poor father and disowned mother, and has not been given the privilege to be seen as one of the social elite for those reasons. It is for those reasons alone that she is looked down upon and ridiculed by her affluent peers. And, although as a child she could not resist the enticing urge to retaliate against those who abuse her, education and wisdom have served as a reasonable replacement for her childish outbursts. Instead, Jane has discovered that although those around her may be of higher social class, her secretive, profound, and malicious comments will satisfy her need to requite the unfriendly comments and observations. So even though Jane has grown older, and may not openly express her objection to social differences, she has never truly matured. But this concealment of emotions, these prolonged adolescent thoughts strengthen her sense of individuality. Because she is of a lower social standing than those around her, and because she acknowledges that, she understands that she is alone among the new residents of Thornfield. These new residents, most importantly Ms. Ingram, give Jane, what I believe, is a new understanding of social class. It is social class which generates Jane’s belief that Mr. Rochester and Ms. Ingram will marry. But here is where Jane’s perception of social class changes: upon observing the interactions between the two misleading lovers, she notes that Ms. Ingram is not quite as intelligent as one would assume. She also recognizes that Mr. Rochester takes little interest in Ms. Ingram’s “Arrows that continually glance off from [his] breast” (Bonte 188). It is here that I believe Jane begins to truly value her intelligence more than her resentment of social inequalities, and/or sees that although the visitors at Thornfield surpass her socially, they lack the intellect which would truly make them superior. Because of the concept of social class Jane becomes more independent, in that she feels isolated by the prosperous crowd that seemingly looms over her, but more aware of her equality to those around her. Ms. Ingram, by being unable to penetrate Mr. Rochester’s heart, only enforces Jane’s perception that money is not the only power in Thornfield.

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Alec Perry
01/09/2013 11:48pm

I like how you bring up the metaphor of Miss Ingrams arrows not penetrating Mr. Rochester's heart. Know what I'm throwin down?

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Kyle Barboza
01/09/2013 10:28pm

Jane, governess of the Thornfield estate, is left in a rather peculiar position. While she has no real social status, she believes that she holds place with Mr. Rochester, to which he feels the same. While she wants to break the rules of social status intermingling society had set, as her late mother and father had done, she knows this to be improper. She makes her will to be good known when she starts her thought process with “[Mr. Rochester] is not of your order: keep to your caste; and be too self-respecting to lavish the love of the whole heart, soul, and strength, where such a gift is not wanted and would be despised.” (165). Here we see she clearly has feeling for Mr. Rochester, but wishes to subdue them to preserve his status. This subserviently follows with her behavior at the party. To begin her good behavior, she first restricts Adele away from the guests, which include the famed Blanche Ingram and her daughter, stating that “she must not on any account think of venturing in sight of the ladies.” (168) Jane tries to preserve Mr. Rochester’s status by preventing Adele, the child he had with a French prostitute, from being even seen associating with the Thornfield household or its guests at any time.
While she attempts to isolate herself throughout the party, Mr. Rochester continually tries to include her in the festivities. One instance of this is the game of charades in which Mr. Rochester tries to include in the game, although he chose Blanche Ingram as his partner. The option for Jane to be good was clearly taken as she minds “I rather feared he would have [insisted I played], he allowed me to return quietly to my usual seat.” (184) This good stature is held in comparison with Blanche Ingram when she notes that “[Jane] looks too stupid for any game of the sort.” (184) This draws immediate contrast in the characters, both stature related and morality. While she wishes to assert her independence and stand up for her love and all she stands for, she ascertains she must hold herself back and submit to class restrictions.

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Michelle
01/09/2013 10:36pm

I really like how you added in Jane's restriction of Adele in your response. It is interesting that you thought that she was trying to protect Mr. Rochester's status--I hadn't thought of that before. Also, I like how you describe class restrictions and how she must hold herself back both in stature and in morality.

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Michelle
01/09/2013 10:31pm

In the Victorian era, governesses, children, and servants were meant to be “seen and not heard”. While Jane’s position was higher than a servant’s, she was still stuck in an uncomfortable position in the household. Mr. Rochester wanted her to be in the drawing room in the evenings, yet she felt uncomfortable being there because of the way she is perceived by his guests. Her social class makes it so that she has to behave—she sits in a corner and does not speak unless she is spoken to. If movement into or out of the room is necessary, she must do so without anyone noticing. Basically, she is invisible to Rochester’s guests. And rather than addressing her, they talk of her social status in that governesses are all “ignorant” and “a nuisance” (Bronte 179). They discuss horror stories of governesses and the tricks that the children played on them. Jane simply listens and claims that it doesn’t bother her when Mr. Rochester asks what is saddening her, yet he realizes that she is “so much depressed that a few more words would bring tears to [her] eyes” (183).
Jane’s social class is also important when it comes to the relationship between Mr. Rochester and Lady Ingram. Jane realizes that Mr. Rochester will marry Ingram “for family, perhaps political reasons; because her rank and connections suited him; [she] felt he had not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill adapted to win from him that treasure” (188). She says that she is not jealous, for she knows that there is no love between them, only the pressure to get married because of society’s standards that make each of them a good suitor for the other. Jane seemingly loves Mr. Rochester, though her position in society could never permit her to marry such a high-standing man on the social ladder. Jane isn’t impressed by Lady Ingram, however, which makes the marriage ok with her—it seems as though she is fine with Mr. Rochester being married as long as the marriage isn’t based on love.
Jane was once an independent and individual woman, free to make her life what she wanted it to be as long as she stayed among the social expectations of women at the time. However, as soon as Mr. Rochester’s company arrives, she becomes a stereotyped person: an ignorant, worthless governess who is unworthy of love. This appears to come as a sad realization to Jane whose naievity and happiness about being in such a great place blinded her from the truth about her situation.

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Aldi Dinoshi
01/09/2013 11:45pm

Jane is caught in a strange situation where she is above a servant, however below the family members. She has to sit in the drawing room during Rochester’s party and listen to Blanche Ingram’s conversation about how governesses are “detestable and the rest ridiculous and all incubi.” Here she really cannot intrude on the conversation according to standards set by Victorian society. All she can do is endure until she leaves, of course only after being allowed to leave by Rochester. The real conflict between her independence occurs when she thinks about her attraction towards Rochester.
She believes it will never happen because of the difference of caste. She sees the general set up between Rochester and Ingram, Rochester having the riches while Ingram had the beauty. It was just normal from the time. Inside she wanted to let it happen but her independence wanted to be with Rochester. She feels relived when Ingram leaves the fortune teller disappointed because it may have foreshadowed Ingram and Rochester’s failed relationship. She has great conflict within herself between society’s standards and her feelings of independence.

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01/09/2013 11:46pm

While not a constant source of distress during her upbringing, when Jane's position in life is forcefully presented to her, her social class becomes problematic. For Jane, not only does it force her to question the probability of achieving the equality she so vigorously pursues, but also the merits of that equality as well.
The cruelest moment of realization occurs when Jane is forced into contact with the social elite, where she finds herself superior in character, yet unfortunately, inferior in birth. While her manner towards Rochester is usually conversational, almost amicable, once the wealthy upper class arrives, Jane reveals a remarkable and somewhat unexpected resignation, conforming to the ideals of society and maintaining the impression that in the eyes of the upper class, she is an “object too mean to merit observation” (Bronte 194) With this in mind, Jane sits by a window and observes the party, watching as Miss Ingram steadily and mechanically woos the man she loves.
Having recently reprimanded herself for acquiring feelings for Rochester, Jane's decision to stand on the sidelines of the party is quickly set against the foolish nature of the guests, and Jane realizes that though Miss Ingram may be wealthy, she is severely lacking in other areas. She realizes that Miss Ingram “[is] very showy, but[is] not genuine; [that] she [has] a fine person, many brilliant attainments, but her mind [is] poor, her heart barren by nature; [that] She [is] not good; she [is[ not original.” (194) This triggers an important change in Jane. She does not feel the need to, as she puts it, have a “vital struggle with two tigers—jealousy and despair” (195) and while she does pity herself to some extent, her realization that it is not substance that merits equality puts her at ease, and exemplifies a greater understanding of her position in the world.

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Benjamin Welch
01/10/2013 3:41am

I liked how you highlighted the fact that even though Jane is subjected to cruelty at the hands of the guests, her self-image is one that still very much aligns with what would be considered proper in society.

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Benjamin Welch
01/10/2013 4:03am

Jane seems to be caught in a inescapable void somewhere in between the children and the help. While it seems quite apparent that Rochester views her as an equal, it is equally so that the remainder of England's upper class thinks otherwise. Blanche makes degrading remarks to Jane's face and thinks nothing of it. Her growing loneliness, and her inability to form an intimate connection with anyone at Thornfield due to her odd social status as governess only strengthens Jane’s sense of independence. The ladies talk lowly of her with the knowledge that she is within earshot, as lady Ingram remarks "I noticed her; I am a judge of physiognomy, and in her I see all the faults of her class."(Bronte 179), implying that women of her social standing are perceivably less attractive, then goes on to elaborate to Rochester where Jane cannot hear. The cruelty continues, but in a Victorian society rebellion against social norms is basically unheard of. While Jane might consider acting on her urges to lash out, she is aware that the outcome would benefit no one, and leave her in an even more awkward position were her employer is dissatisfied with her, and is a position to relieve her of her employment. Jane’s inner dialogue reveals her true feelings towards Blanche, as she states “… she used to repeat sounding phrases form books: she never offered, nor had, an opinion of her own. She advocated a high tone of sentiment; but she did not know the sensations of sympathy and pity; tenderness and truth were not in her.”(Bronte 187). These harsh feelings towards her may have stemmed from her jealousy of Blanche, that jealousy being of her social status or the right to court Rochester that it granted her. Alternatively, the root of her aversion may have been natural, in that she truly dislike Blanche for who she was.

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Shannon Friberg
01/10/2013 10:45pm

Social class and expectations seem to drive a splintery wedge into the life and goals of Jane Eyre. Because of the time period and what that entails, Jane is limited not only by her social standing in her occupation of Governess, but in her gender--considered inferior by most of her cohort. In the forefront of Jane's mind, this social inequality of herself and Mr. Rochester burns hot in her inner battle between admitting her love for and hopelessness of those feelings for this man. Jane, who has been conscious of her social difference from her peers since a very young age (unlike miss Adelle), has resolved to try to overthrow--or at least ignore--them in the past. However, in her present situation she is finding it irrational to let herself think it possible in light of Mr. Rochester's plan to be married. It is my opinion that Jane catches herself off-guard by this timidness to ignore social walls, and does so because it involves something that she has never come close to in her life: Love. Similarly, Mr. Rochester (if indeed he fosters feelings mirroring Jane's,) finds himself bound by social barriers and the search for a bride that must be within his own upper-class society. It is in his countenance, as Jane has observed, that he is not actually charmed by Blanche Ingram, but merely feels it is prudent and necessary to make such an engagement because of business and economical standings--he even remarks to Jane (in costume of the gypsy) that he knows what will be revealed with age underneath all the beauty and splendor that Miss Ingram puts on as a facade. It is paramount to hear Mr. Rochester's thoughts if we are to truly derive his feelings of the situation though, for I perceive it that he would have Jane over Blanche any day if they were only placed in the same social class (Blanche is all fluff and fake smiles and performance, whereas Jane is simple, insightful, and though not as pretty, much more interesting than a rich girl's puppeting of herself). On another hand, there is the issue of Jane's Gender. "A single woman at this economic level still had only one option for respectable employment: working as a governess. Although a woman could maintain a decent living with this job, she could also anticipate "no security of employment, minimal wages, and an ambiguous status, somewhere between servant and family member, that isolated her within the household" (Norton Anthology of English Literature, 2: 903). I think it is apparent the struggles pertaining to her social mobility as a single woman with no family to answer to--not even for a dowry. Jane has undergone a climb from orphan, to school girl, to teacher, to governess (all within a period of under twenty years) solely because of her strong will and passions. It is my prediction that Jane Eyre will do yet more climbing of the social ladder as a product of this commendable trait of hers.

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