Jane Eyre's boldness, juxtaposed with the suppressed presentation of the female experience in Victorian era society - one in which a woman was to be a submissive, domestic housewife under a male dominance - embodies the frequently silenced voice of feminism. Jane's continued subversion of the male dominance paints her as an early proto-feminist heroine. In its time and place of publication, 19th century Victorian London, England, Bronte's novel of female heroism and defiance of social hierarchy was a glimpse of what was to become a controversial and hugely influential movement. It shone a light on the hidden scars and injustices endured by Bronte and many other women during this time.
Jane Eyre, as an orphaned young woman, faced many trials with absolute resolution. Growing up with her cruel Aunt Reed, she is sent to Lowood, a bitter charity school run by the ruthless Mr. Brocklehurst. She laments, "Human beings must love something, and, in the dearth of worthier objects of affection, I contrived to find a pleasure in loving and cherishing a faded graven image, shabby as a miniature scarecrow." A young woman absent the social advantages of family, wealth, and beauty, Jane suffers from the cruel treatment of Lowood because her aunt wants to punish her for her rebelliousness to the heartbreak in her many attempts to marry her beloved Rochester, "All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever." .
Jane's search for self-realization as an equal of man and an independent individual is one of the strongest exemplifications of Bronte's feminist ideals: "Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?-a machine without feelings? and can you bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soul and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and.