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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Essay length: 1463 words

Comparative Study - Jane Eyre and Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Comparative Study - Jane Eyre and Tess of the D'Urbervilles Comparison of Thomas Hardy's 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' and 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë is possible as both authors were writing in the same time period; therefore both books contain certain aspects attributed to one genre: the Victorian Novel. However its is also important to realise the differences between the books as well as the similarities; the diversities are what give each novel its individuality and make it distinct from other books by the same author or included in the same genre. The first chapter of a novel is always vital as it is essential in capturing the reader and enticing them to read on. In addition, the opening section plays a part in setting the tone of the novel; it is the reader's first experience of the characters, location, background and author's style. For this reason the first chapter is paramount in alluring the reader to continue with the story. A view often assimilated with the Victorian Novel genre is that of fatalism; in both books being considered it is used to further the plot. Hardy was known for his fatalistic outlook on life; this becomes apparent through Tess's own fate - undelivered letters, misunderstanding and a string of unfortunate coincidences all lead to her tragic end.

Middle

With regard to plot, the factor of status is important in relation to later parts of the story. Jane thinks that Mr. Rochester could never love her due to their employer-employee situation, and because she is not a wealthy lady like Miss Blanche Ingram. It is her status as governess that leads her to believe Mr Rochester could never love her. For Tess too there are issues of status that are heavily significant to her life. The exchange between her father and the parson at the opening of the novel causes conflict and debate; Tess effectively suffers an identity crisis. During the story Tess also has other roles to play: by bearing the duty of going to market she takes on her father's role. By looking after her siblings she adopts the role of a mother figure, and later on there is again debate over her social status: is she Mrs Angel Clare or Mrs Alec D'Urberville? She questions her role as any kind of wife to anybody, losing sight of who she really is. Both opening chapters show the author using foreshadowing to build tension and hint at parts of the plot yet to come: Jane's fight with John foreshadows his unfortunate end in Vol. II, Chapter six. The sequence of events Tess's family is subjected to are small disasters that lead to their total demise, Hardy's extensive use of foreshadowing is typical of the earlier phases of the novel, making the family's decline seem inevitable, suggesting that Tess's fate is already sealed.

Conclusion

This is highlighted through the use of dialect and colloquial conversations. Jane has been bought up in a very different kind of establishment, one of formalities and riches, shown through the behaviour of the Reeds who suppose they are of a much greater calibre then Jane, and by the extent of their own personal library: the scene of the reader's first experience of the characters. The first chapter of Tess is ominous, hinting at situations that will ensue: 'our impulses are to strong for our judgement sometimes' is a comment made by the Parson to John, Tess's father. In Brontë's 'Jane Eyre' the unfair treatment of those that are supposed to love her and care for her reflects situations that will occur later in the book, however not as strongly implying as the hints in 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'. In both opening scenes the reader is witness to seemingly small incidents that are to change the lives of the two female heroines forever. For Jane it is the final straw when John attacks her: her description of Bewick's 'History of British Birds' discloses her state of mind: her head is full of images of shipwrecks, storms, high mountains, death and disaster. For Tess's family it is the tiny piece of wrong information that changes the Durbyfields forever. Had the Parson been able to hold back his 'impulses' life would not have changed for them in this way, leaving them subject to, as Jane is, the cruel hand of fate. Tessa Rowe 13SK

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