Comparison Of Jane Eyre + The Color Purple Essay, Research Paper
Both novels are variations of the same theme: the
spiritual and emotional growth of the heroine.
Is this a fair assessment?
Both novels convey important, political messages exploring the idea of feminism and women?s emancipation. Bronte uses Jane as a figure of female independence, while Walker demonstrates her views on civil rights and commitment to feminism through Celie. In this essay I will be examining the traumatic journeys that both Jane and Celie go through, to find their eventual happiness. I will also be considering the spiritual and emotional growth of both girls, throughout their journey in life.
Written in 1847, Jane Eyre was an immediate best seller in the early Victorian period. At this period in time, women had a very inferior status to men, which allowed Bronte to stress her theme of female independence. Jane is the eponymous heroine of the novel, going through severe tests in each stage of her life, so that she can eventually deserve her eventual happiness.
Jane starts her journey with her childhood at Gateshead. Here, we quickly discover that Jane is unhappy and it is evident by the way she hides behind the thick red curtains in the deserted room, that she is lonely and isolated. It is quickly apparent that Jane has a strong personality and though she is only ten years old, she refuses to be dominated by her elder, male cousin and stands up to his cruelty. At ten years old, Jane. is able to look at a situation and judge it very honestly. She recognises that the punishment from her aunt and cousins is ?Unjust! -unjust!?
The theme of being judged and consequently rewarded or punished because of physical appearances becomes apparent to Jane fairly early in the novel. She reacts strongly to the fact that ?if she were a pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that.? Her treatment at Gateshead is harsh and unfair and the cruelty of superficial judgement affects her so that all the kindness in the world would not cheer her spirits.
The second phase of Jane?s journey opens with her travelling alone and friendless, to Lowood School. Here, Jane is faced with the cruel, physical regime of school. She makes her first friend, Helen, whom she questions closely about her beliefs. From this we can tell that Jane is someone who is very interested in life and her place in it. The most moving part in the novel occurs in Lowood, the death of Jane?s only friend, Helen. No comment is made regarding Jane?s feelings, as if not wallowing in Helen?s death, makes the loss of her all the more poignant. I feel as though this significant event in Jane?s life made her emotionally stronger. Another important figure in Jane?s life is her teacher, Miss Temple, who acts as a friend as well as the mother Jane never had. She strongly affects Jane?s life with her fair outlook on the school. When Miss Temple departs Lowood it is clear that there is no need or reason for Jane to stay there, she must move on.
This introduces Jane to her third phase in life, Thornfield Manor. Again, in this setting, her desire to be more physically appealing is made apparent when she feels inferior to the beautiful, Blanche Ingram. It is not until later when we see the more unpleasant features of Miss Ingram, that we realise she is no match for Jane?s intellect and modesty. This third phase is the beginning of the main focus of the plot. The romance, which is familiar throughout storytelling: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl are reunited after some hardship and they all live happily ever after. Mr Rochester is immediately taken by Jane, but her natural innocence and reticence does not allow her to see this. Bronte?s theme of equality is given emphasis in this section of the novel. Both Mr Rochester and Jane are equally passionate and forceful, which makes their relationship a fiery battle of strong wills quite entertaining. Jane is not intimidated by Mr Rochester, which I think surprises him. The powerful communication between them highlights the equality of mind they share, regardless of their positions in society. Jane is clearly equal to Rochester in intellect, sense and feeling if not social status or age. In this stage of her life all seems to be going well, until Jane finds out Rochester is prepared to make a bigamous marriage, with the full knowledge he has a living wife. Jane is distraught; she feels all hopes of happiness have been drained away. Even though she loved him and he genuinely loved her, her strong moral principles will not allow her to become his mistress. This is an intrinsic aspect of her nature, and never is its strength more keenly felt than at the verge of temptation, ?I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unstained I am, the more I will respect myself. I feel that this situation made Jane spiritually stronger, with the knowledge that she sacrifices her love for her moral code. Her fundamental creed is clearly established, ?Do as I do: trust in God and yourself?.
After a terrible period alone with her ?mind impressed with strange fears?, Jane reaches a solution. She must leave Thornfield. This leads Jane onto her fourth stage in her life, Marsh End, adulthood and the road to self-knowledge. The next three days in the novel severely test Jane?s innate pride. She has enough sense to reduce herself to beg for food as she recognises the needs of the body, which must be addressed. Several times she wishes for death, but the thought of leaving the earth with Rochester still living is hateful to her. This shows her strong-will to survive and I think it proves her emotional and spiritual strength. After eventually finding shelter and family, Jane?s luck seems to be changing. She has been left a fortune and after insisting the fortune should be split between all four of them explains, ?it could never be mine in justice, though it might be mine in law?. The refusal to accept the full sum also highlights the aspect of her character which values love, friendship and decency above finance and its trappings. After several months pass, Jane is faced with yet another important decision, the marriage proposal from a man whom she shares no true love with. She rejects the idea of being ?forced to keep the fire of my nature continually low, to compel it to burn inwardly and never utter a cry, though the imprisoned flame consumed…
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