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A comparison of a pre-twentieth century and a twentieth century novel.

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A comparison of a pre-twentieth century and a twentieth century novel Throughout this essay I am going to compare chapter seven of Jane Eyre with chapter eleven of To Kill A Mockingbird, bringing out any similarities of character, theme and narrative technique. Although these two novels were both written in different countries and were published nearly one hundred years apart they do share the following in common; they both have contemptible characters, admirable characters, common themes of child rearing and prejudice, and similar narrative techniques. Firstly, both chapters contain characters whom we admire and whom we condemn. In Jane Eyre, characters we admire are Jane herself, Miss Temple and Helen Burns. Jane Eyre is the eponymous hero of the novel, because of her feisty attitude and her spirited defiance. She answers back to Mrs Reed and stands up to Mr Brocklehurst in an earlier chapter and here in chapter 7 Charlotte Bronte writes: "in an impulse of fury against Reed....bounded in my pulses at the conviction." However to a Victorian audience this would have been shocking as women were viewed as the weaker gender and it was unheard of for children to be defiant. Miss Temple is another character that we admire in Jane Eyre. She is caring and concerned. This is seen when she gives the children bread and cheese instead of burnt porridge. This is somewhat admirable and brave because Miss Temple is risking her job when she does this. Also, she stands up for the rights of others, which shows courage. For example when Mr Brocklehurst shows his prejudice towards girls with curly hair she answers him directly: "Julia's hair curls naturally." Therefore we see the courage coming from Miss Temple to object to Mr Brocklehurst's unfair demands. In addition, Miss Temple's kind nature is seen furthermore when she whispers words of courage to Jane when she whispers the comforting words: "Don't be afraid Jane, I saw it was an accident, you shall not be punished." ...read more.


by allowing admired characters to see them as unjust. On the other hand Helen's punishments are unjust because she could not possibly wash her hand because the water was frozen. The punishments in Jane Eyre are seen as unjust because we see them from Jane's point of view. She is the heroin of the novel so we tend to side with her. Also Miss Temple sees the punishments as irrational and the reader's side with her because she is admired for reasons I have previously mentioned. The novel Jane Eyre therefore gives us an important message on how to bring up children. It suggests that to bring up children you must do it with compassion, kindness and respect. This will gain obedience, trust and respect in return. I have come to this conclusion as Mr Brocklehurst treats the children harshly and brutally, consequently the children resent him. To Kill a Mockingbird also deals with the theme of child rearing. In Mockingbird we see a contrast in the approaches between Atticus and Uncle Jack. We see Atticus as a good listener, and fair minded. However we see Uncle Jack as unfair and quick to jump to conclusions, when Scout says: "Uncle Jack said if I talked he'd lick me again." Therefore we get two different perspectives on punishing and child rearing methods. We also see another similarity between chapter seven of Jane Eyre and chapter eleven of To kill a Mockingbird. We realise that Mr Brocklehurst's quick temper is like that of Uncle Jack's. In To Kill a MockingbirdMockingbird, Scout and Jem are punished by having to make amends for cutting the tops of Mrs Dubose's camellias. They are punished so that they learn from their mistake. Scout and Jem are treated with dignity (Atticus never hits them, although he allows Calpurnia to) we see how Atticus desires for his children to acquire awareness of their faults: "There's no point in saying you were sorry if you aren't...... then you'll do it for a month." ...read more.


The opportunity for irony gives us a double perspective (going back once again to the reference about the confederate army relic...) This line therefore creates a different view point between the reader and the narrator. Finally, I have now come to the conclusion that these two novels do indeed share many things in common. They have characters we admire and condemn. These characters are all similar to one another. For instance Atticus is caring and loving, just like Miss Temple of Jane Eyre. Mrs Dubose is prejudiced and hypocritical, like Mr Brocklehurst. Although Jane Eyre was set in 19th century England, and Mockingbird in the 1930s, they both contain humour; pathos and suspense. First person narrative is used and they both deal with the theme of prejudice. Also they convey similar messages of how to raise children (with respect, firmness, dignity and care) Both novels say something revolutionary about the times they were set in. Jane Eyre speaks out for women's rights and To Kill a Mockingbird challenges the policy of racial segregation and caste systems in the south of America, at the time. Therefore Both novels are significant to their contemporaries as well as readers today. Personally the most important theme for me in Jane Eyre is that of stoicism. It made me realise that hardship is not necessarily a bad thing, but should be endured or embraced so that it can be a form of preparation for life in the future. (just how Jane was prepared to reject love without marriage and marriage without love) I think that racial prejudice is an important theme in To Kill a Mockingbird because it highlights the sad views on races and cast systems and how far society has come today. For example, black people have overall the same rights as whites do today. Mockingbird acts a a reminder of how prejudice can be painful to every walk of life (even Scout and Jem are affected by racial prejudice, even though they are white!) It conveys the message that prejudice in any shape or form is a bad path to take. By Anjuli Modaley ...read more.

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