About the Book

Book Protagonist: Jane Eyre
Publication Date: 1847
Genre: Coming of Age, Romance

Historical Context

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ portrays the Social realities of a typical Victorian era and is based on some of her experiences growing up in such times.

Jane Eyre’ was written ten years into the reign of Queen Victoria of England, and so tackles some of the most common issues characteristic to such an era, given prevalence to especially topics that affected the women of such times. 

The Exploits of Queen Victoria of England

Most of Jane’s life falls within the era of the reign of Queen Victoria of England, and so it is believed that this period had a great influence on Charlotte Brontë’s book, ‘Jane Eyre.’ The period which started in the early 1830s – ending at the turn of the 20th century, was one praised for overseeing great reforms in many disciplines and sectors of society. 

Religion blossomed with the widespread of Christianity and the adoption of a stricter moral code of conduct, while political reforms took place, ensuring a became even bigger territorial expansion and the actioning of the expansionism doctrine. All these made sway in the way that events play out in Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre,’ and also notable in this era was the puritanic and restrictive state of things. 

The View of Women

Women of this era were especially more affected by this puritanic and restrictive way of life, and based on what it demanded from the gender, it reduced them to a far lesser one – with a very limited social franchise in terms of rights, social security, and opportunities. For example, women were somewhat viewed as the property of men so much so that they sometimes were arranged for in marriages and expected to be subservient partners – only responsible for bearing children and taking care of the home. 

In ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë, the case becomes similar for most women whose life’s only achievement is being married off and being less equal to a man in such union. But, such life is not for Jane, and readers see her show this in both her actions and statements that run throughout the book. Jane desires to be an independent woman, educated, working class, a virtuous but not extremely religious.

Moral Code of a 19th Century England

19th century England was also famous for its morality, and this meant that people were expected to heed a certain strict moral code of conduct, and not doing so would indirectly result in a certain differential treatment from society. For example, for a woman, agreeing to become a mistress to another – apparently married – man is the height of decadence for such gender in a given 19th-century society. 

This comes into play in the plot of ‘Jane Eyre,’ and many times Jane comes under such test – with the loudest being with Mr. Rochester, who asks her to become his mistress after it becomes clear to everyone – including Jane – that he already has a wife in Bertha Mason. Jane, of course, doesn’t fall for this like any typical woman of such an era, and she goes away, fleeing from Mr. Rochester, even though she loves him and is tempted by his request. By doing such, Jane will have managed to enact her reputation and gain greater respect from society.

The High Poverty Line 

Despite Queen Victoria’s great exploits in the reformation of several aspects of 19th-century English society, for most people, poverty was still wielding the scepter, and this spiraled in the uptick of bias and social inequality among the British people. The forgoing becomes a very important influence for Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre,’ and even comes to play as part of the storylines for the book. 


Is ‘Jane Eyre’ historically accurate?

Jane Eyre’ portrays the struggles of a peasant young 19th-century English woman, and even though the issues she faces are realistic to such times, it can not be considered historically accurate but a great work of art and imagination. 

What is a major historical background portrayed by Charlotte Brontë in ‘Jane Eyre’? 

The victorian age proves an undercurrent event that possesses a great influence on the way that issues manifest throughout the book. 

How has ‘Jane Eyre’ affected the perception of women over the years?

Through Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre,’ society is constantly forced to consider the place of women in a changing world, and the book has been a revelation to some long-standing plight of the female gender. 

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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