Marxist criticism examines literary works as "'products' of the economic and ideological determinants specific to that era" (Abrams 149).
In other words, literature reflects class struggle along with materialism and oppression. Marxists view literature as reflective of the social class of the author or as an analysis of class relations.
Class relations and conflict
Certainly, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre contains elements of class struggle, since early in the narrative after Jane is orphaned and left penniless, she is forced to live with her uncle's family. There, she is abused and berated by her cousins, and told by her male cousin that she has no right to read their books, and he adds that she should not even be living with "gentlemen's children like them."
When her uncle dies, Jane is sent to Lowood, a school for orphans, where she suffers humiliation and deprivation. After her friend Helen dies, Jane must remain at the school, but she is nurtured by Miss Temple. When Miss Temple leaves the school after marrying, Jane, who has become a teacher, departs from Lowood and finds a job as a tutor for the protege of Mr. Rochester, a gentleman. As his employee, Jane is in no position to declare her growing feelings for this gentleman, despite his taking an interest in her. When, for instance, Mr. Rochester has a social gathering of young ladies and their mothers, Jane is clearly on the outside of this social circle.
Clearly, Jane Eyre overcomes oppression and social conflicts. She becomes an independent woman in a society in which few are; she finds a position as a tutor, but when Mr. Rochester wants her to violate the moral law and marry him although he already has a wife (albeit an insane one), she refuses. The cost to her is almost her life, but she is saved by those who turn out to be her relatives. When her cousin St. John wants her to become a missionary and marry him, Jane refuses because she does not love him, and she wishes to maintain her self-esteem and independence.
The Jungian approach to literature examines archetypes. In Bronte's novel, Jane Eyre is a Cinderella type, as she overcomes the abuse of siblings and arises as the heroine of the narrative and lives happily ever after.
Jane returns to Thornfield after a supernatural experience of hearing Mr. Rochester. There she finds her true love, who has been injured in a fire, but she is able to help him and his love for her has remained, so they live "happily everafter."