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Jane Eyre - World Book Day 2023

Bordesley Green Girls' School recognises literacy as a key life skill and, as a result, reading, (especially for pleasure), is given a very high priority.  We were delighted when Nafeesah, one of our Sixth Form students, wrote and read out the speech below as our Thought for the Day on World Book Day.  Speaking about one of her own favourite books, the classic "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte, she hints at the power of literature to change the way that people think about and treat others, (in this case, women), leading to a more just and fair society.

Charlotte Bronte was among the first feminist writers of her time, and wrote Jane Eyre in order to send the message of feminism to a Victorian-Age Society in which women were looked upon as inferior and oppressed by the society in which they lived. This novel embodies the ideology of equality between men and women in society. As a feminist writer, Charlotte Bronte created Jane Eyre to support and spread the idea of an independent woman who works for herself, thinks for herself, and acts of her own accord.

At the time, Jane Eyre was considered a radical book that defied authority, violated human code, and fostered rebellion in the homes of society. Reviews stated that Jane Eyre as a character was undisciplined and did not have any attractive, feminine qualities. Many people felt that Charlotte Bronte had overthrown society.

In the novel, Jane Eyre suffered in her childhood as she was bullied by her cousins and felt alone as she was an orphan however as she reached adulthood, she emphasized her independence and exercised her free will. At the end of the novel, She becomes a woman who believes in her self worth and does not let others define it.

A famous line from Jane Eyre is when Jane says ‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.’

This line emphasizes how Charlotte Bronte introduced the new concept called “the modern individual”. Which means an individual who has a sense of self and is not afraid to go against the accepted order of things.

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is considered a classic and has been retold by several authors where another female character called Bertha has been given an identity, a story and has been empowered.

Charlotte Bronte spoke volumes for oppressed woman and was and still is an inspirational writer. She wrote what she felt was necessary and not what was thought to be acceptable, by doing so, she created a timeless and universal message - to challenge the status quo and to speak up for what you believe in.

I will end with Charlotte Bronte's response to the criticism she faced.

“Narrow human beliefs, that only tend to magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world.”