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Compare and Contrast Jane and Billy's Experiences of Childhood in A Kestrel for a Knave and Jane Eyre

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Compare and Contrast Jane and Billy's Experiences of Childhood in A Kestrel for a Knave and Jane Eyre There are many similarities and differences in Billy and Jane's experiences of childhood. Although set in different times it's incredible how the schools are similar and how both children have had a hard upbringing. Billy and Jane's family and home life were very hard. Jane was an orphan and lived at her Aunt Reed's house. Jane's uncle's dying wish was for Jane to continue living in the house and to be treated like the other children. Gateshead was very large and spacious, almost too big just for a small family. The curtains were large and dark and did not let in much light, it felt like a prison to her. Her Aunt Reed despised Jane and treated her with disrespect. She had three other children; Eliza, Georgiana, and John. John was a bully, and when Jane fights back after he throws a book at her head, Mrs Reed blames her for starting the fight and lying about it. As punishment, Jane is shut up in an empty bedroom- called the red-room, where she has a terrifying experience that she sees the ghost of her dead Uncle Reed. 'I lifted my head and tried to look boldly round the dark room; at this moment a light gleamed on the wall.' (page 48) Jane was terrified because she had allowed her imagination to run away with her. She was thinking about all the stories in which ghosts of dead men come back to haunt a room if their dying wish was not fulfilled and Jane believed that the wish of her to be looked after with love was not being fulfilled. ...read more.


Most mornings, the porridge was burned but Mr Brocklehurst merely said that the girls should endure the disappointments. He didn't really care about the girls and often publicly humiliated Jane. 'Who would think that the evil one had already found a servant and agent in her? Yet such, I grieve to say, is the case.....You must be on your guard towards her, you must shun her for example- if necessary, avoid her company, exclude her from your sports, and shut her out of your converse......-this girls is- a liar!' (page 98). Mr Brocklehurst sat Jane infront of her class and said this to all of her fellow pupils. Jane was most afraid that Helen Burns, her new friend and Miss Temple would hate her for it. Again this is showing that he is a hypocrite because some of his rules and actions are completely unchristian like and yet that seems to be what is most important. He is constantly threatening the girls that they will go to hell if they are not good. Throughout the winter the girls remained hungry. Miss Temple who was the superintendent of the school was always kind towards Jane. She treats the girls with respect. When she is in Miss Temple's room she is happy and the fire in the room resembles the warmth and happiness. At Billy's school the teachers do not care about the boys future at all. They are constantly telling them that they are useless. ' So you thought you would enlighten me and the class with your idiotic information?' ...read more.


When Billy's has the flashbacks of his Father they seem rather dreamlike and this is Billy's escape from reality. 'The warmth...the warmth of the pictures... the pictures full.... Billy between his Dad and another man.' (Page 158) Jane Eyre is written in the first person narrative, which makes the book a lot more emotional, it draws the reader into the character. It almost feels like an autobiography. The language is very old fashioned and is incredibly detailed. The book starts from when she was about nine years old to a view about it from the thirty year old Jane. It is her reflecting on her life. She is aware that she was selfish and naive. There was also another perspective to the historical content because back in that time not many girls received an education and so it was a privilege to go even to a charity school. Studying both of these books has been interesting. Especially on how similar their school life was. I found it fascinating that even though A Kestrel for a knave was written years after Jane Eyre, the school life had not improved at all. The main difference though between the 2 books is that Billy did not have an education and Jane did. At the end of the book, Jane managed to escape her from her miserable life. 'Reader, I am married, a quiet wedding we had....When we got back from the Church, I went into the kitchen of the manor house and Mary was cooking the dinner and John was cleaning the knives.' (Page 474) Whereas, Billy did not. ' He buried the hawk in the field just behind the shed; went in, and went to bed.' (Page 160) ...read more.

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