The very strict and was constructed to keep

The social hierarchy during the Victorian era was very strict and was constructed to keep certain people in power. Those in upper classes had many privileges and opportunities that were unavailable to those in lower classes, who also faced many restrictions and unfair treatment. People in each class had certain expectations and once they were born into a class it was almost impossible to move up the social ladder. In Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre, Jane defies the rules of this hierarchy when she starts out as a destitute orphan, but grows up to be a wealthy, married woman. Some critics believe the ending of the novel was unsatisfactory because they think Jane settled and sacrificed her independence when she chose to marry Rochester. Jane’s marriage to Rochester was an appropriate ending because there was no longer a class distinction between them, making it a relationship with social equality. Even at a young age, Jane was well aware that a lot of the abuse and torment she faced stemmed from her position in the class system. Jane was constantly reminded by her aunt and her cousins that her low status made her inferior. John Reed, one of Jane’s cousins, tormented her by saying, “you are a dependent, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg” (Brontë 13). It’s clear that the class distinction between John and Jane is what drives his ability to torment her. John’s control over Jane shows how strongly money and status were equated with power and how easy it was for those with power to abuse it. Jane was always being told that she was a burden and that she should be grateful that she was allowed to live at Gateshead, regardless of how she was being treated. Her low social status meant she was always at fault when something went wrong and her cousins were always innocent despite their terrible actions. The abuse Jane faced made her believe that “poverty . . . was synonymous with degradation” (Brontë 30). Jane began associating status with quality of life because of her experience at Gateshead. Her terrible life as a dependent made Jane crave independence even more, and she realized that the only way to accomplish that was by changing her status.