Struggles of Women in Society Within Literature
Struggles of Women in Society Within Literature
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Jane Austen’s Emma, Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and Gustav Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, all encompass heroines who struggle in vain to fit the confines of the rigid society they have been born into. Jane Eyre is born into a life of an orphan, only to thrive and rise into the affections of the wealthy nobleman, Mr. Rochester. Unlike Jane, Emma Woodhouse is a creature that has been born into the upper echelon of British society, but is disillusioned to a point where Emma believes that she has the right to dictate people’s love affairs. Moll Flanders, like Jane Eyre, is born into a life of poverty; However, unlike her predecessor, Moll performs demeaning tasks, such as acting as a prostitute and thief, to elevate her position in society. For Clarissa, in Mrs. Dalloway, comes to the realization that she must break away from societal rules, in order not to be swallowed up by the societal snobbery that surrounds her. Anna Karenina, like Clarissa Dalloway, has allowed society to dictate her life by stressing discression in affairs; therefore, Anna breaks away form these rules with Vronsky, only to end up crushed by society. Emma Bovary, much like Anna, throws away a live of luxury, in order to pursue a love affair that ends in trajedy. Within all these novels the characters either overcome the problems that face them within society or perish because they are unable to do so. Through examination of the rich settings, societal rules, reversals fortunes, and the fortunes of love, one can see how some women over come the pressures of society while others plunge to the deepest depth of despair.

In all six works, the settings range from glorious well-lit mansions to the dingy dirty streets of the city, which parallel the emotions of the characters struggling to survive. For Bronte’s work, the eeriness and isolation of the red room is described as, “dark and unlit. Seldom did a fire every burn in that room mirrors the loneliness that Jane feeels. When Jane says “No one everyone went in there.”(15) The darkness and solemnity mimic the loneliness that Jane feels because of being an orphan that does not belong with Mrs. Reed’s children, and is made painfully aware of it because her [Jane’s] cousins continually remind her. Critic Maggie Berg feels that, “Jane is wandering in a bleak landscape representative of her psychological condition.”(33). Berg feels that Jane is alone within this massive building, that rather than be a home, is a mental prison for Jane. However, in Bronte’s novel the home of Mrs. Read signifies gloom and loneliness, the home that Jane shares with ST. John and his sisters suggests moods of happiness and fulfillment. It is here that Jane learns that these strangers are not strangers at all, but rather her cousins. It is at this point Jane realizes she will never be dependent on anyone and that she [Jane] does have family. Just as the loneliness is reflected in Gateshead, the grandeur and status of Emma are reflected in her home, Hartfield, which reflects her high status in society, thus giving Emma the position in her own mind to dictate what people should do. The home is described as, “. . .handsome, with brightly lit rooms . . .”(20). Hartfield is symbolic of Emma’s place at Highbury’s society, but just as the home is grand and vaguely occupied, so are Emma’s plans for match making with Harriet Smith. Like Hartfield signifies Emma’s place at the top of Highbury society, the dark dingy streets of London are an extension of Moll’s unwholesome past. Moll even comments that, “The city is unclean. I am unclean.”(94) The city parallels the sinful acts that people must do to survive, which results in Moll believing she to be whore because she marries men to gain their fortunes. Martin Price Writes, “The outlawry of a women whose social isolation makes her a freebooter in the center of London . . .”(32).

Just as the mansion that Emma inhabits reflects her [Emma] attitude and appearance to society, so does the quiet decorated townhouse of Clarissa. The atmosphere and grandeur of British society act as a gilding over the societal and personal problems that Clarissa faces, such as when she learns of Septimus’s death, “She [Clarissa] walked out of the party. Clarissa realized that no one had seen her leave. No one had seen her [Clarissa] return.”(198). It is at this point within the novel that Clarissa comes to the realization that her home and parties can not cover up the unpleasant happenings of life, and that in the end society counts for nothing. By coming to this realization, Clarissa casts off her society and is finally able to free herself and find out who she really is, by not following societal norms, that led her to a miserable life of snobbery. In Anna Karenina, one sees the rich homes and theaters of Moscow and ST. Petersburg, bring

Get Your Essay

Cite this page

Jane Eyre And Jane Austen’S Emma. (April 15, 2021). Retrieved from