Jane Eyre

by

Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre: Parody 1 key example

Definition of Parody
A parody is a work that mimics the style of another work, artist, or genre in an exaggerated way, usually for comic effect. Parodies can take many forms, including fiction... read full definition
A parody is a work that mimics the style of another work, artist, or genre in an exaggerated way, usually for comic effect. Parodies can... read full definition
A parody is a work that mimics the style of another work, artist, or genre in an exaggerated way, usually... read full definition
Chapter 12
Explanation and Analysis—Marriage Plot:

Jane Eyre has a complicated relationship to the marriage plot, both leaning on it for Jane's happy ending and darkly parodying it as the only option available to women. Chapter 38, the final chapter of the novel, opens with a hotly-debated line:

Reader, I married him.

Scholars have long argued about Jane's feelings toward this marriage, as well Brontë's. Does the line convey a sense of resignation, or reclaimed agency? Notice that Jane is the active subject of the sentence, and Mr. Rochester is the object: "I married him." Jane chooses her own fate rather than let it be chosen for her, which is somewhat extraordinary for a woman who was born an orphan without a great deal of wealth or familial support. She has previously accepted fates that befall her, so her choice here constitutes growth.

Nonetheless, the novel has not seemed too optimistic up to this point about marriage as a liberating fate for women, especially when Mr. Rochester is the husband in question. In chapter 12, the narrator describes women's needs:

[Women] suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

A life consumed by housework is "confining," "restraining," and "stagnant." Bertha, locked in an attic, undoubtedly has it worse than the kind of housewife the narrator is describing. But according to this passage, Bertha's confinement serves as an extreme metaphor for what many wives experience in their marriages. Bertha has been so severely restrained that she has developed a dangerous vendetta against her captor. Even if Mr. Rochester is not as abusive to Jane as he is to Bertha, he has still proven himself the kind of husband who does not hesitate to stifle his wife's intellect and freedom, to the point that she is barely recognizable as an independent person anymore. If Jane is proclaiming her right to choose her own future, why is this the future she chooses?

Jane's choice, and the way the narrator confesses it to the reader, emphasizes the narrator's meta-awareness of the "reader" and the novel's status as a novel. It might be read as a dark joke about the inevitability of the marriage plot by this point in literary history. The "stagnant" fate of women in novels is practically inescapable because even the most independent heroine can only assert her independence by choosing her own husband, not by refusing the role of wife. Sadly, marrying Mr. Rochester is a radically selfish act within the world of the novel. Jane ought to marry St. John, but she marries for love instead of practicality. The novel invites readers to interpret Jane's choice both as an assertion of her will and as a sign of the way fiction and reality limit women's options.

Chapter 38
Explanation and Analysis—Marriage Plot:

Jane Eyre has a complicated relationship to the marriage plot, both leaning on it for Jane's happy ending and darkly parodying it as the only option available to women. Chapter 38, the final chapter of the novel, opens with a hotly-debated line:

Reader, I married him.

Scholars have long argued about Jane's feelings toward this marriage, as well Brontë's. Does the line convey a sense of resignation, or reclaimed agency? Notice that Jane is the active subject of the sentence, and Mr. Rochester is the object: "I married him." Jane chooses her own fate rather than let it be chosen for her, which is somewhat extraordinary for a woman who was born an orphan without a great deal of wealth or familial support. She has previously accepted fates that befall her, so her choice here constitutes growth.

Nonetheless, the novel has not seemed too optimistic up to this point about marriage as a liberating fate for women, especially when Mr. Rochester is the husband in question. In chapter 12, the narrator describes women's needs:

[Women] suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

A life consumed by housework is "confining," "restraining," and "stagnant." Bertha, locked in an attic, undoubtedly has it worse than the kind of housewife the narrator is describing. But according to this passage, Bertha's confinement serves as an extreme metaphor for what many wives experience in their marriages. Bertha has been so severely restrained that she has developed a dangerous vendetta against her captor. Even if Mr. Rochester is not as abusive to Jane as he is to Bertha, he has still proven himself the kind of husband who does not hesitate to stifle his wife's intellect and freedom, to the point that she is barely recognizable as an independent person anymore. If Jane is proclaiming her right to choose her own future, why is this the future she chooses?

Jane's choice, and the way the narrator confesses it to the reader, emphasizes the narrator's meta-awareness of the "reader" and the novel's status as a novel. It might be read as a dark joke about the inevitability of the marriage plot by this point in literary history. The "stagnant" fate of women in novels is practically inescapable because even the most independent heroine can only assert her independence by choosing her own husband, not by refusing the role of wife. Sadly, marrying Mr. Rochester is a radically selfish act within the world of the novel. Jane ought to marry St. John, but she marries for love instead of practicality. The novel invites readers to interpret Jane's choice both as an assertion of her will and as a sign of the way fiction and reality limit women's options.

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