Jane Eyre And Little Women: Jane And Jo Comparison Essay, Research Paper
The novels Jane Eyre and Little Women are strikingly similar in many ways, and the characters Jane Eyre and Jo March are almost mirrors of each other. There are many similarities between Jane and Jo, and also some differences, as well. From childhood, although they find themselves in completely different situations, both girls experience many of the same trials in their younger years. Jane is an orphan who has no family to call her own, and lives with an aunt and cousins who despise and dislike her. She was left penniless by the death of her parents, and is reminded daily by her house mates that she is inferior to them because of her circumstance. Jo grows up in a loving home with three adoring sisters and a mother, however, she also feels the absence of a parent, because her father is away at war. Jo is also poor, her father having lost all his money in an attempt to help a needy friend. In this way, both Jane and Jo are alike — they both long for the life they had before they were poor, although Jane longs more for the richness of a family while Jo and her sisters desire the material wealth and the return of their father. However, in both cases, the girls’ longing for these “riches” influence their whole young adulthood — Jane clearly shows this the best when she refuses to become Mr. Rochester’s mistress later in life, because of her continuous search for a stable family life.
Jane and Jo are also alike for other reasons. Both are mature for their ages, spending a great deal of time reading and thinking. They are both passionate and willful, although Jane shows her spirit more through occasional outbursts when provoked, while Jo is constantly losing her temper and making inappropriate comments. Both are also plain children, Jane having no features to make her beautiful, and no features to make her unattractive, as well. Jo is a tomboy, and therefore rejects the “appropriate” dress and actions for a girl of her age, hiding her beauty because it is “unmanly.”
Later in life, Jane and Jo do many things that are similar, even though they are in different situations. After Laurie expresses his love to Jo and offers marriage, Jo rejects him, saying, “I don’t see why I can’t love you as you want me to. I’ve tried, but I can’t change the feeling, and it would be a lie to say I do when I don’t.” (331) Jane, too, rejects a marriage proposal from St. John Rivers because of the lack of love, as well, when she says, “… if I am not formed for love, then it follows that I am not formed for marriage.” (756) Both believe that marriage without love would be unthinkable, and decline possible wealth (in Jo’s case) and opportunity (in Jane’s), rather than to marry someone they do not love in a romantic way. As Jo puts it to Laurie, “I don’t believe it’s the right sort of love, and I’d rather not try it.” (332) Jane’s need for a true family, and for the love that she’d never experienced, keeps her from marrying into an unromantic relationship. Jo, however, having had a close knit family, turns down Laurie simply because she sees him as her brother, and not as a lover.
Another way in which Jane and Jo are alike is through their journeys away from the love of another person. Jo leaves Laurie behind while she goes away to the Kirke’s to help him forget his love for her. After he proposes, Jo tells Laurie, ” I never wanted to make you care for me so, and I went away to keep you from it if I could.” (331) Jane, on the other hand, leaves Thornfield to try to become independent of Mr. Rochester, and to forget her love for him. In this instance, although both are doing the exact same thing, they are doing it for different reasons — Jo to make someone forget her, Jane to forget someone she loves. In contrast to each other, however, during their time away, Jo finds the man that she really loves and wants to marry, while Jane realizes that she cannot marry anyone other than Mr. Rochester. It is during this time that Jo meets the Professor and he falls in love with her, and Jane meets St. John and decides that she cannot marry someone she does not love. These journeys were essential to both girls, for they helped them to find (or rediscover, in Jane and Mr. Rochester’s case) the love that they felt they were missing.
The two women both marry…
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