The Experience of Womanhood: A Comparison of Jane Eyre and Mrs Dalloway

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf are both crucial novels of the English Literary Canon; one is an important work of Victorian literature, the other is a major 20th century novel. These – all over the world famous – female narratives are often examined from a feminist perspective. Written in different times, style and historical context, but both portray iconic literary female figures whose life offer a picture of what it is like to be a woman in a patriarchal society. Despite the main characters’ differences in age, personality and cultural and social background a parallel between Jane Eyre’s and Mrs Dalloway’s lives can still be drawn; trying to construct their own identity, while experiencing the agonizing nature of society’s restrictions for women, having a „separate room”, and having doubles. The similarities serve as a base which shows that there is a kind of pattern in the experience of womanhood and it is possible to generalize the struggles of being a female in a male dominated world, but they also allows us, through Mrs Dalloway’s character, to question and rationalize the life and actions of the Victorian forerunner of the modern woman, Jane Eyre.

mrs dalloway, jane eyre, feminism