Student Research Projects

"To seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils": Jane's Search for Independence in Jane Eyre

Student Tiffanie Marine, '16
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department English
Course English 489: Senior Thesis Workshop

Abstract

This project investigates the question of the ability of women to escape the patriarchal notions of Victorian women through a reading of Charlotte Brontë\'s Jane Eyre. Based on my research of this question, we can see how two separate characters, Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason, are actually two sides of one person. My investigation draws on French theorist Jacques Lacan\'s theory of the mirror stage to examine the scene in the novel where Jane and Bertha indirectly interact with each other using a mirror as a vehicle. Through the illustration of identification between these two characters through the lens of Lacan\'s theory of the mirror stage, this research highlights the importance of Jane mis-recognizing Bertha as herself, which leads Jane to realize that she can break out of the stereotype of the Victorian woman, thus gaining her independence. This is still relevant in today\'s society because it shows individuals that feel trapped in stereotypes that there is a way to escape.