International Council for Education, Research and Training

Gender, Borders and Boundaries in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre


Goyal, Geeta

Associate Professor, Dept. of English, RKSD College, Kaithal, India



The concept of borders and boundaries is one of the important themes in English literature. It might refer to national borders or divisions within countries or symbolize physical barriers, societal divisions or personal limitations. Metaphorically, borders and boundaries might mean the boundaries based on caste, color, creed or sex or represent expectations and prejudices or search for selfhood and identity. Writers from the marginalized communities take up the themes of construction of identity in their writing. Similarly, African-American writers, while addressing the issues of race, gender and class, illustrate their struggle and experiences. Their own lives serve as an inspiration to write about the trauma of displacement and slavery. The English novel in the 18th and 19th century largely focused on women primarily confined to the roles of wife, mother and homemaker. However, some novelists such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Aphra Behn challenged gender stereotypes and advocated for greater female autonomy and intellectual freedom. Similarly, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte etc. questioned the prevailing attitudes and provided a fresh perspective on gender issues. Whereas Jane Austen celebrates intelligent and strong-willed female characters who resist societal pressures, Gaskell delves into the lives of working-class women and those on the margins of society. Similarly, Hardy chooses the sub-title A Pure Woman for his novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles in order to question the Victorian norms. The paper discusses Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and analyses how the novel embodies rebellion against societal constraints by presenting an unconventional heroine who is able to move beyond boundaries and carve her path amid restrictions imposed by society in which she lives. 


Keywords: Borders, boundaries, societal norms, gender, identity, challenge.


Impact Statement

Gender discrimination has been a widespread issue, affecting individuals and communities across the globe. The fact that women have been the sufferers because of restrictions and barriers imposed by society and culture in one form or another cannot be negated.  From ancient myths to contemporary literature, authors have addressed the themes of borders, displacement and loss of identity. They have raised voice against exploitation and oppression against women by questioning the gender stereotypes and different yardsticks that curb women’s rights to live respectfully as a human being. The necessity for woman’s identity has been advocated by Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre as she challenges the social barriers and pleads for greater female autonomy. The analysis of the Victorian moralities and Bronte’s vision for women’s empowerment in the novel will provide an insight for readers and researchers to delve deep into the topic for further exploration and research.   

About Author

Dr. Geeta Goyal is working as Associate Professor of English, RKSD College, Kaithal, Haryana with total teaching experience of 32 years. Gold Medallist of MA English, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra (1989), Dr Goyal has been the College Colour holder (University College, Kurukshetra, 1984), Best Student, Best Sitarist and the Vice President of Student Council, Indira Gandhi Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Kaithal (1986-87) in her student life. She has published twenty-seven research papers and presented more than twenty papers in conferences in India and abroad including Malaysia in 2011, Manchester, UK in 2015 and Birmingham, UK in 2016. She has also published five chapters in edited and e-books. Her book entitled Robert Frost: His Poetic Art (ISBN: 978-93-5070-187-4) was published in 2015. She completed a UGC Major Research project in 2016. She has guided one Ph.D., five M.Phil. students, delivered many extension lectures and organized workshops on topics such as ‘Communication Skills in English’ in various colleges of Haryana. She was awarded Ray Tongue Scholarship by IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) to present paper in Birmingham, UK in April, 2016. Besides this, she has organized more than 10 DGHE sponsored National/State level Seminars. She has also been providing a scholarship of Rs. 20,000/- annually to the meritorious and needy students in her institution since 2006. 



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  2.  Ibid., 213.

  3.  Ibid., 189.

  4.  Ibid., 213.

  5.  Ibid., 217.

  6.  Ibid., 213.

  7.  Ibid., 219.

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  9.  Ibid., 228.

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  24.  Ibid., 10

  25.  Ibid., 5

  26.  Ibid.,6

  27.  Ibid., 6

  28.  Ibid., 27

  29.  Ibid., 29.

  30.  Ibid., 29.

  31.  Ibid., 30.

  32.  Ibid., 30.

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  34.  Ibid., 18.

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  36.  Ibid., 46.

  37.  Ibid., 72.

  38.  Ibid., 229.

  39.  Ibid., 117.

  40.  Ibid., xix.

  41.  Ibid., 237.

  42.  Ibid., 237.

  43.  Ibid., 268.

  44.  Ibid., 265.

  45.  Ibid., 223.

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  55.  Ibid. 57.

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