Jane Eyre Vs. Great Expectatio Essay

This essay has a total of 1867 words and 8 pages.

Jane Eyre Vs. Great Expectatio


Both Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, and Great Expectations, written by Charles Dickens,
have many Victorian similarities. Both novels are influenced by the same three elements.
The first is the gothic novel, which instilled mystery, suspense, and horror into the
work. The second is the romantic poets, which gave the literature liberty, individualism,
and nature. The third is the Byronic hero, which consists of the outcast or rebel who is
proud and melancholy and seeks a purer life. The results when all three combined are works
of literature like Jane Eyre and Great Expectations. BOTH NOVELS CONVEY THE SAME VICTORIAN
IDEOLOGIES COMMON FOR THE TIME PERIOD IN, WHICH THEY WERE WRITTEN. Bronte displays many of
her experiences and beliefs through the main character, Jane, in her novel. As does
Dickens, he portrays his own experiences and thoughts through Pip, the main character of
Great Expectations.

Dickens and Bronte use setting as an important role in the search for domesticity. Great
Expectations is a circular book, with Pip finding his childhood home at the end of the
story finally filled with happiness and a real family (Chesterton, 102). Pip begins the
novel in his village, innocent though oppressed. Moving to London, he becomes uncommon,
but also loses his natural goodness. Paying his financial debts and living abroad after
losing his "great expectations," he regains his goodness, or at least pays for his sins,
and can finally return to his childhood home. His physical traveling reflects his mental
and emotional journeys. Only when he returns to his childhood place and childhood goodness
can he begin to look for happiness again.

In contrast, the use of setting in Jane Eyre is linear (Martin, 154). Instead of returning
to her childhood home to find domesticity, Jane cannot find home until she moves to a
totally different place. Setting plays an equally important role as she moves from
Gateshead Hall to Lowood to Thornfield to Moor House, and finally to Freudian Manor. She
cannot find her native ideal at Gateshead Hall, the site of her childhood torment, or
Lowood, a boarding school, of Thornfield, where Rochester hid his first wife and almost
became a bigamist, or Moor House, where St. John's presence constantly reminds her of true
love's rarity (Martin 155). She and Rochester can only create their own domestic haven in
a totally new and fresh setting.

A theme that can be acknowledged in both novels in the concept of social and gender
mobility. In both novels the characters encounter social and gender mobility and each
character attends to the notion differently. In Great Expectations, much of Mr. And Mrs.
Joe Gargery's experiences of a class above theirs must be achieved vicariously, namely
through Pip as he goes back and for the to Miss Havisham's:

If a dread of not being understood be hidden in the breasts of other young people to
anything like the extent of which it used to be hidden in mine… it is the key to many
reservations. I felt convinced that if I described Miss Havisham's as my eyes had seen it,
I should not be understood. Not only that, but I felt convinced that Miss Havisham, too,
would not be understood; and although she was perfectly incomprehensible to me, I
entertained an impression that there would be something coarse and treacherous in my
dragging her as she really was (to say nothing of Miss Estella) before the contemplation
of Mrs. Joe (Dickens, 60).


However, in Bronte's Jane Eyre, no such previous dependence on indirect experience between
Jane and Rochester occur, until Rochester's injury, which cripples is hand and blinds him.
The fire in which Rochester received his injuries, however, cleansed him of his previous
wife, the unethical money he lived on, and the dominating position he held Jane under. A
good quote that demonstrates the idea of social and gender mobility in Jane Eyre is the
following:

Mr. Rochester continued blind the first two years of our union: perhaps it was that
circumstance that drew us so very near - that knit us so very close; for I was then his
vision, as I am still his right. Literally, I was (what he often called me) the apple of
his eye. He saw nature—he saw books through be; and never did I weary of gazing for his
behalf, and of putting into words the effect of field, tree, town, river, cloud, sunbeam -
of the landscape before us; of the weather round us - and impressing by sound on his ear
what light could no longer stamp on his eye (Bronte, 475).


The new relationship forged between Jane and a new Rochester, according to Bronte, knits
them very close and happy. Jane becomes Rochester's hands and eyes, becomes the controller
of how he moves and perceives. Jane becomes the "apple of his eye." An empowered woman,
why should not Jane be content and why should not Bronte, a female writer, pass anything
by the best of judgements over this unequal arrangement. Pip, however, in his childlike
way, understands the problems of vicarious experience. He worries his account of the
Havisham "would not be understood," nor would his account of Miss Havisham herself.
Moreover, the word coarse has made such an impression of him from Estella, which Pip
worries whether his station allows him to drag Miss Havisham

"as she really was…before the contemplation of Mrs. Joe Gargery." Pip, then is acutely
aware of how his and Mrs. Joe's lower class standing to Miss Havisham's limits the
observations he may make, whereas between Rochester and Jane, the previous class
distinctions have disintegrated, allowing information to pass freely (Martin 56).

Jane found a way over social as well as gender barriers. Her marriage, therefore, presents
itself as an exceptional relationship for the period. That Jane has devoted herself
remains true, however, to say that her role is one of submission does not hold. Rather,
all of Rochester's sensory experience depends itself upon Jane, making him submissive.
Fortunately for Pip and other Victorian men in his dilemma, they do not need to concern
themselves with moving beyond this sort of gender discrimination, but only with rising
above their stations.
Continues for 4 more pages >>




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