Class is a central theme in many Victorian novels, including Jane Eyre and Great Expectations. In these novels, we see how class impacts the characters’ relationships, opportunities, and experiences. Through an examination of these texts, we can gain a deeper understanding of the complex nature of class in this period and its impact on society as a whole.
Whether it’s Pip struggling to move up the social ladder or Jane navigating different social circles within her own home, these novels provide a nuanced look at how class shapes our identities and influences our interactions with others. So if you’re interested in exploring issues of class in Victorian literature, be sure to check out Jane Eyre and Great Expectations.
In many Victorian novels, the importance of class and maintaining appearances is undeniable. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens are two such books. Gender is also crucial in both of these works, which deal with social standing. These restrictions on female characters in Victorian novels very often have to do with their social standing. It also has a lot to do with how they maintain the image of their class.
In Great Expectations, Pip is a boy from a very low class. He is often looked down upon and made fun of because of his status. However, things change for him when he meets Miss Havisham and Estella. Suddenly, he is thrust into a world of wealth and luxury that he knows nothing about. One could argue that this new world is not really one that he belongs in, but he does his best to try to fit in. This is evident in the way he starts to dress and speak. He becomes more aware of his own lower class status and is ashamed of it.
Jane Eyre is also from a lower class background, but she does not have the same opportunity as Pip to move up in the world. She is constantly aware of her own lower class status and the restrictions that it puts on her. For example, she is not able to marry Rochester because he is from a higher class than she is. However, she does not let this stop her from trying to better herself. She gets an education and eventually becomes a governess. This gives her a certain amount of power and independence, which allows her to defy the expectations of her class.
While Great Expectations and Jane Eyre are both novels about class, they each offer a different perspective on the subject. Great Expectations focuses more on the idea of aspiring to a higher class, while Jane Eyre focuses on the reality of being restricted by one’s class. In both novels, however, we can see the complex role that class plays in Victorian society and how it shapes the lives of both male and female characters.
In Jane Eyre, we watch the world through Jane’s eyes; a courageous protagonist who aspires to be free of her origins as an orphan. We are also able to see how Jane struggles for individuality and love as she grows. When Jane is still living with her aunt at Gateshead, for example, she makes her first declaration of independence by declaring that she will no longer be a secondary member of the Reed family.
Similarly, Great Expectations presents the struggles of Pip, an orphan from humble beginnings who is thrust into a life of wealth and luxury. Through his relationships with characters like Joe Gargery, Miss Havisham, and Estella, we see how Pip progresses in his own journey towards individuality.
One key scene to look at is when Pip begins to reject his “money-making” attitude towards Joe by saying ‘Sunday comes before you can turn round’ (Dickens 206). In this moment, Pip rejects the lifestyle he perceives as outdated in order to preserve his relationship with Joe – a character whom he views as representing everything that is good and pure in the world.
Ultimately, both Jane Eyre and Great Expectations explore the themes of class and individuality through the lens of orphans who must find their own way in the world. While Jane and Pip come from very different backgrounds, they both face similar struggles in terms of societal expectations and their quest for love. As a result, these novels offer a unique perspective on the Victorian class system and the individuals who inhabit it.
After meeting with Mr. Brocklehurst for the first time, when her aunt repeats everything he has to say about how terrible a liar she is throughout the meeting, but before this, Jane tells the Doctor that she does not wish to join any relatives ties. Aunt Reed states that if I have any, they would be a “beggarly” collection: I should not want to go a-begging. (Bronte 19) From these remarks, it’s clear that Jane isn’t prepared to slip down in class just so she can get away from her cruel relatives.
Great Expectations shows a similar loyalty to class when Pip, the narrator and protagonist, Great Expectations is written in first person point of view from the perspective of Pip, who is looking back upon his life. This allows for a deep level of introspection as he tells his story.
Both Jane Eyre and Great Expectations were written during the Victorian era, a time when Great Britain was going through great change. The industrial revolution was in full swing and there was a growing middle class. At the same time, the upper class was struggling to maintain its position. These changes are reflected in both novels.
In Jane Eyre, we see the conflict between the classes through the character of Mr. Rochester. Rochester is of a higher class than Jane, but he falls in love with her and wants to marry her. This is not acceptable to his family or society, and so Rochester must choose between Jane and his position in the world.
Great Expectations also deals with the issue of class, though in a different way. In this novel, it is Pip who must choose between his love, Estella, and his social class. Estella is from a higher class than Pip, and she has been raised to believe that people like him are beneath her. As their relationship develops, Pip must decide whether he is willing to give up his place in society in order to be with the woman he loves.
Both Jane Eyre and Great Expectations explore the theme of class in the Victorian era, and offer a fascinating look at social dynamics during this time period. Whether it is through love or shared experience, both novels highlight how class can impact our lives and relationships.
Jane’s physical needs in Lowood were met, but her emotional requirements were neglected. Food is limited and taste bad, and moderation and humility are emphasized as important points. People who will love and respect Jane emerge. Learning gives Jane greater respect and rank. She eventually becomes a teacher there, gaining some power over others.,
In Great Expectations, class plays a major role in the story. The protagonist, Pip, is born into poverty and spends most of his life striving to improve his social standing. Despite his best efforts, he struggles to break free from the limitations of his lower-class status. Eventually, he realizes that money and material wealth are not the key factors for happiness and fulfillment. Through hard work and perseverance, he earns the respect and admiration of those around him and finds meaning in life despite being trapped at the bottom rung of society.
Both Jane Eyre and Great Expectations explore various themes related to class in Victorian society, including the challenges faced by lower-class individuals as they attempt to climb the social ladder, the negative consequences of wealth and privilege, and the importance of earning respect through one’s own merits. Despite their different experiences, both Jane and Pip ultimately realize that true happiness does not come from money or social status, but from finding inner strength and meaning in life.