1. The Woman Question is based on Freud’s question: “What do women want?” at the end of the nineteenth century. In terms of the Victorian novel, Jane Eyre, however, the Woman Question refers to the centrality of women’s social conditions to the plots, forms and structures of the novel. The novel asks one to think explicitly about the fate of an intelligent woman, in Victorian England, who’s trying to make sense of her own destiny. It also asks that one should understand the voice of a feminist narrator in the context of gender roles and the organized feminist movement of the nineteenth century.
2. Jane Eyre was a teacher at Lowood school and later advertised for governess in Thornfield. All references relating to governesses in Jane Eyre can be found on pp. 85-86, 97, 137, 150-152, 226, 324-325.
3. I agree with Poovey’s excerpts on governesses, that a governess represents two figures: the figure who epitomized the domestic ideal, and the figure who threatened to destroy it. Jane Eyre, for example, was Adéle’s governess, where Adéle had no mother. As governess, Jane thus represented the middle-class mother, in terms of domestic virtues, as well as a teacher, in teaching her the ‘accomplishments’ that would attract a good husband without allowing the sexual component of these accomplishments to get the upper hand. Jane Eyre was expected to give up her own personal needs for a husband to become a governess, and thus not fall in love with her master. Therefore she was not only the figure who symbolized the domestic ideal, but also the figure who threatened to destroy it, as she allowed the sexual component to get the upper hand, by falling in love with her master, Mr. Rochester.