The roles of men and women during the early 1900's are clearly sketched out in the book Jane Eyre. Since the book was written during the same time period it is portraying it paints a good picture of the life at this time. As we have read in the text book and discussed in section the roles of women are to be in charge of hiring and firing the help, make sure that the household runs smoothly, raise the children, and above all listen to her husband. Men are known as the providers in the family. They have many rights that women do not have such as the right to own land and the right to vote. Men were in charge of everything and women are expected to listen and stand behind their husbands. Mrs. Reed and John Reed, Mrs. Temple and Mr. Brocklehurst, and Mrs. Fairfax and Mr. Rochester, conformed to their typical roles during this time period. While on the other hand, Jane Eyre may have conformed but had many attempts to challenge her typical role as a female. .
In the beginning of the book we learn about Mrs. Reed and the extra roles she plays as a woman because of the death of her husband. The only way women could own land at this time is if it is left to them in the death of their husband. Mrs. Reed is the owner of her estate. She controls everything that goes on with the estate. In a situation where there is a son in the family, such as this one, he may take charge of the estate when he is old enough. This book shows a time when the son may not always do a good job and make decisions that are not the best for the estate or for the family. In this case John Reed ended up spending all of his family money and put his whole family to shame and in turn, ruined his own life. This also shows the flaws of the system. Even though this sort of thing can happen anyway the author is trying to point out that the estate ran smoothly under the control of Mrs. Reed, a women, and as soon as it was under the control of John Reed, a male, it was destroyed.