p_gotherina (p_gotherina) wrote in sistersbronte,

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Clothing and Jane Eyre...

I am struggling with coming up with a focus for my essay on Jane Eyre for my MA course in Victorian studies.

*I would prefer it to be an interdisciplinary question/focus but it doesn't have to be.
*I would like to write about and explore something that hasn't been done so in either much detail or at all really...
*In the week we looked at Jane Eyre we also looked at: Hunt's The Awakening Conscience; The enfranchisement of women by Harriet Taylor; Laws of England concerning women by Barbara Bodichon and a couple of secondary material including the chapter from Gilbert and Gubar's The Madwoman in the attic.

I want a really clear and precise focus. The question must be relating to the 'theme' of the core course which is 'progress and anxiety' and can refer to either/or.

After endless scribblings and note making I've come up with an interest in clothing...
...the symbolism of Bertha destroying Jane's wedding dress and how it can represent her 'shitting' on marriage after the failure of her own, in turn showing the anxiety of marriages being destroyed either by adulterous women or women choosing not to be the 'angel of the house' and instead opting to be ruined and live in sin as mistresses which may or may not lead to prostitution (consider Hunt's painting here perhaps and John Ruskin's comment on the model's dress - that the whiteness will or is soon to be covered in dirt perhaps should she fall to a life on the streets etc.) which in turn shows up another contemporary social anxiety about women at the time...

Perhaps Adele's superfluous interest in clothing and her mother's before her and her 'life of sin' as Rochester's mistress...there are references to Rochester buying her satins and clothing etc. ...Rochester's loathing for Adele's mother and the like and his apparent desire to protect Jane and 'not' intend to make her his mistress by marrying her when in actual fact...well you know the story.

Jane's own clothing which is of course dark and plain and which highlights a governess' undefined status and miserable existence as neither family member nor valued household member leading to the anxieties and 'fears' of working (independent) women... the darkness of her clothing paralleling or highlighting/reinforcing her own anxieties and outlook on marriage and her demand for equality which could be said to have been an anxiety - that women should not have a say or make such demands even or indeed have a mind of their own, let alone want to be their husbands equal....

And so on.

The question or various wordings of the question I have at the moment are (delete/adapt as appropriate) however I'm still not sure as to what my 'argument' or point might actually be exactly...but I am just really interested in the idea of looking at and focusing on (female) clothing.:

"To what extent/How far does clothing in Jane Eyre illustrate Victorian social anxieties about women? / about women and the sanctity/institution of marriage?"

Please please feel free to change or edit as you would see fit, to post your own thoughts about the topic and links or to suggest any other ideas I am also open to other viewpoints or angles or focus areas as long as it's manageable as it's due in on the 7th of January!

Many many thanks in advance.
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