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Compare the Novels 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte and 'The L-Shaped Room' by Lynne Reid Banks with particular focus on women in society.

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Introduction

Compare the Novels 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte and 'The L-Shaped Room' by Lynne Reid Banks with particular focus on women in society The novels I will be comparing in this essay display in very different ways, the spiritual and emotional growth of the heroine. Both novels convey important, political messages exploring the idea of feminism and the emancipation of women. Bronte uses Jane as a figure of female independence, while Lynne Reid Banks demonstrates her views on the alienation of women who don't comply with the accepted forms of marriage and child bearing, in a more modern society through Jane Graham. In this essay I will be examining the traumatic journeys that both Jane Eyre and Jane Graham go through, to find their eventual happiness. I will also be considering the spiritual and emotional growth of both girls, throughout their journey in life. Written by Charlotte Bronte in 1847, 'Jane Eyre' was an immediate best seller in the early Victorian period. At this period in time, women had a very inferior status to men, which allowed Bronte to stress her theme of female independence. Jane is the strong-minded heroine of the novel, going through severe tests in each stage of her life, so that she can eventually earn her ultimate happiness. Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed, Jane begins her journey with her childhood at Gateshead, where she is only tolerated, not loved. At ten years old, Jane is able to look at a situation and judge it very honestly and it is this insight, which she displays to her aunt in a very unchildlike manner that causes her to be sent away to Lowood charity school. It is here where she is subject to a cruel regime and Jane emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity to become a governess at Thornfield Hall. Here, she meets and loves Mr Rochester and learns of the impediment to their marriage, forcing her to run away to Morton where she is taken in and discovers the family she longs for. ...read more.

Middle

Where Jane is seen as searching and questioning, these other characters hold strongly to one form or another of religious beliefs, for example Helen Burns. On her deathbed Helen speaks with Jane about both her depravity and her deep affinity with God. "By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings. I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well in the world: I should have been continually at fault." "But where are you going to, Helen? Can you see? Do you know?" "I believe; I have faith: I am going to God." "Where is God? What is God?" "My Maker and yours, who will never destroy what he created. I rely implicitly on his power, and confide wholly in his goodness: I count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall restore me to him, reveal him to me." "You are sure, then, Helen, that there is such a place as heaven; and that our souls can get to it when die?" It is easy to condemn Brocklehurst's religious doctrine, but here Bronte also undermines Helen's absolute religious beliefs. Jane's questions may not plant any seeds of doubt within Helen, but the reader cannot miss her point. Helen and, later, St. John Rivers seek happiness in Heaven; Jane is determined to find hers here on Earth. To continue the theme of religion, Bronte uses constant, but unstated referral to prayers, and direct quotes from the Bible. The "drear November day" does not have a specific date attached in 'Jane Eyre'. Within the first chapter there are quotes taken from the Bible; "But the souls of the first are in God's hand, and torment shall not touch them ..." "... Then the just man shall make his stand full of assurance, to confront those who oppressed him." These two passages, when read in full, contain the total sum of Jane's experiences within the novel. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'The L-Shaped Room', Banks portrays rebirth in the literal sense of Jane's journey through her pregnancy and when she finally gives birth, she herself is being reborn and her outlook on the world has changed drastically: 'David, who was creating the causes of alarm and despondency, was also neutralising them at source. One look at him grinning gummily up at me made the world and its judgements recede.' I have already mentioned the needs of a woman to be an influential in both novels and it is widely perceived that women have a maternal instinct and need to reproduce, however, Bronte steers clear of contemporary baby-doctrines altogether by treating babies as less than unimportant whereas Lynne Reid Banks demonstrates clearly the effects of child bearing in changing a person. The baby in Jane Eyre's dream is by far the most attention-worthy infant in the 'Jane Eyre'; otherwise babies are simply things that various women have, which usually grow into children, and are only then deserving of interest, when they have established themselves as a person and developed their own character. Jane Eyre's dreams are part of another less prominent theme of fantasies and dreams, which is more dominant within 'Jane Eyre', whose dreams often help the reader to gain a deeper insight into Jane's character and situation. The almost telepathic event that Jane experiences towards the end of the novel is the first sign of the supernatural other than these dreams which Jane had the night before her wedding. In 'The L-Shaped Room' any references to fantasies are kept a lot more down to earth and reserved. Towards the beginning of the book there is a lot more unsaid thoughts and events she wished would happen, but there is little reference to the supernatural throughout the book. This is possibly because this isn't necessarily something that more modern readers would be looking for, whereas books exploring the supernatural were popular during the era in which 'Jane Eyre' was published. Charlotte Bronte, like many Victorian authors, infuses her work with elements of the fantastic, a fact evident in 'Jane Eyre'. ...read more.

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