Bronte’s Jane Eyre: Women in 19th Century England

Lesson rationale

Through an exploration of a range of historical sources, this activity will develop students’ understanding of some of the pressures facing women in the 19th century and to consider the problems that Charlotte Brontë encountered as a female writer. Students will develop their awareness of the historical, social and biographical contexts that shape the production of literary works, analysing a range of challenging texts and synthesising the observations that emerge from this exploration.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • What opportunities would have been available to young unmarried women in the early- to mid-19th century?
  • How were young women at this time expected to behave?
  • In what ways did Brontë’s own experiences shape her depiction of Jane’s situation in Jane Eyre?
  • What pressures and expectations did Brontë face as an aspiring writer?