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Both 'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde and 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte have an independent and headstrong central character. How do the writers establish and use this trait in the novels?

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Introduction

Sarah Jackson Both 'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde and 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte have an independent and headstrong central character. How do the writers establish and use this trait in the novels? Although there are seemingly some strong links and similarities between 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte and 'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde, there is also an abundance of differences. Written in the 19th century, Bronte displays typical components of literature of this period in 'Jane Eyre', for example a chronological plot. It qualifies as a great work of literature under the Liberal Humanist approach to criticism, as 'Jane Eyre' carries a social message about women's status and roles in the society of the 19th century, and seemingly portrays Bronte's dissatisfaction on the subject. This thread running through the novel provides a didactic undertone and enables the text to relate to the world. There also appears to be a moral message about goodness being rewarded in the novel. 'Jane Eyre' has been written in an autobiographical form; therefore Bronte has used a first person narrator to give us an account of Jane's life through her eyes. By doing so, Bronte enables the reader to share immediately and fully in Jane's thoughts and feelings. Bronte and Fforde have chosen for Jane and Thursday conceal their feelings in public and maintain a professional stance at all times, but confide in the reader. In Jane's case, one of her purposes seems to be to show Bronte's awareness of the roles of women in society. Questions about society are addressed indirectly, through the medium of feeling. This is also applicable to Thursday, with such an emphasis in the novel on her status as a woman. It is important to consider that Jane's portrayal of personal and sexual relationships was out of step with Victorian conventions. Perhaps this was intentional by Bronte to voice her dissatisfaction with the society at the time the novel was written, and thus is a deliberate formulation of Jane's narrative and character. ...read more.

Middle

It seems to me as though in Fforde's novel, the emphasis is on the impossible aspects of his matrix, and playing with the concept of writing a novel, not so much on exploring social restraints on women (although there are aspects of the novel which undoubtedly reflect this). I feel that he wants to encourage the reader to imagine the impossible and throw off the restraints that reality has, not endorse realism like Bronte. Fforde limits deeply emotional accounts to Thursday's meetings and thoughts of Landen, 'I never mentioned Landen to anyone. It was personal,' and the situation of her dead brother, 'Landen lost a leg, but he came home. My brother was still out there.' As regards her brother, it is obvious that Fforde wants us to know that Thursday is still very much affected by his death, but tries not to let her emotional side prevail. With Landen, however, it is presented as a sore subject for Thursday. Bronte, on the other hand, persistently gives the reader a sense of how Jane feels through her diction when expressing her perceptions, not only of Rochester, but of other characters and even the weather, for example, how Mrs. Reed 'regretted to be under the necessity of keeping [Jane] at a distance.' A mixing of genres is a typical Post-Modern trait, and 'The Eyre Affair' samples science fiction and detective novel narratives. Roz Kaveney, of the Amazon Editorial Review, described the genre as 'pirouetting on the boundaries between sci-fi, the crime thriller and intertextual whimsy.' Fforde's principle influences seem to be the "affairs" written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and of course, 'Jane Eyre.' Jasper Fforde imbues Thursday Next with a detective approach in order for her to be able to solve mysteries and be fearless in taking on criminal masterminds. This genre involves characters who are very much inclined to act on intuition and try to figure things and people out when evidence and leads are lacking. ...read more.

Conclusion

The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.' Thursday isn't so much excluded, as lonely. Fforde uses the aspect of her brother's death and her romantic entanglement with Landen to give her an aspect of emotional angst and vulnerability as a contrast to her seemingly strong and confident personality. The fact that she keeps everything she thinks and feels from her friends and colleagues is self-inflicted isolation. There are several recurring themes that Bronte uses, e.g. relations between genders and social classes. Rochester is of a different social standing and is worldlier than Jane when they first meet, but the scales tip more in Jane's favour by the end of the novel after she inherits a large sum of money and becomes more emotionally robust. This is recognised by Rochester, 'My bride is here... because my equal is here, and my likeness.' With the loss of Rochester's manor and physical capabilities, Jane is ultimately the one with options and independence, 'He is now helpless indeed - blind and a cripple.' Fforde manipulates the plot of 'The Eyre Affair' so that Thursday gains respect from powerful entities and builds on her social position throughout the novel. By making her the crucial weapon against Hades, Fforde gradually elevates Thursday's status in the male dominated society he has created, as the deities of Spec-Ops and Goliath rely on her. To conclude, the independent and headstrong streaks in both Thursday and Jane's narratives are displayed in their perceptions of life and their narrative styles. The techniques and devices which Bronte and Fforde employ in order to establish and use these traits contribute greatly to the narrative but essentially culminate in the engaging portrayal of these two characters, with emphasis on their strong personalities and the moral message of the novels. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ [2971 words] ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ *York Notes on Jane Eyre [Longman Literature Guides - Barry Knight] ** http://www.bookbrowse.com/reviews/index.cfm?book_number=1360 *** http://www.romanticsf.com/news/archive-082005. ...read more.

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