What connection does the romance establish with the idea of Victorianism in Jane Eyre?

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sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Victorian period celebrated “earnestness” as a high value, and for women, “domesticity” as the greatest and most moral course of life.  Jane Eyre is nothing if not “earnest,” in that she treats her life very seriously, and the author treats her material in a way that has no frivolity to it.  Life is serious stuff, the novel implies, and even in moments of lightness, such as when Jane knows she is in love with Rochester and she doesn’t know about the identity of woman in the attic, even then there is a somber mood to the events. All works well in the end for Jane, too, for novels of the High Victorian period generally end in marriage for a woman (and if not marriage, death).  She marries a man who is older and at least as wise as she, and he has been chastened for the dissipation of his earlier life. Even though in some ways Jane gains a power over Rochester in that he is now maimed, she still we take care of him, nurse him, and for the Victorian women “doing good” goes hand in hand with being “domestic.”