Discuss the gender roles in Jane Eyre.

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The concept of gender and in particular how the various characters ascribe (or not) to the roles that gender were believed to bestow upon them are particularly interesting things to consider in this novel, especially given the ending. The character who is shown to battle against her gender role is of course Jane. Note what she says very revealingly in Chapter 12 as she paces the attic very close to where Mrs. Rochester is locked up:

[Women] suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.

Jane therefore deliberately rejects the roles imposed upon her gender by society, and in her own life it becomes clear that she will not settle for anything but a more dominant role. This is shown through her final union with Mr. Rochester when he effectively is made completely dependent upon her through his blindness and maiming. This novel can therefore be seen as a massive challenge of gender roles.  

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