A number of feminist scholars have seen elements of Charlotte Bronte's struggle to establish herself in a male-dominated literary world subtly woven into the text of Jane Eyre. Such speculations are by no means conclusive, but at the very least they are suggestive and provide an interesting angle on the debate concerning the presence of autobiographical elements in the story.
There is an interesting passage where Jane complains about being bullied and punished by John Reed, her good-for-nothing cousin. Some have interpreted this as an oblique reference to Charlotte Bronte's unpleasant experience with the famous Romantic poet, Robert Southey. Before she wrote Jane Eyre Bronte wrote to Southey, enclosing some of her poems and seeking his advice on pursuing a writing career. Southey, very much a man of his time, told Bronte bluntly that literature cannot be the business of a woman's life. A writing career would simply take a woman away from her "proper duties."
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