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In 'Dream Life and Real Life' and 'The Half-Brothers', how is sympathy created for the character in each, who makes an important sacrifice?

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Introduction

In 'Dream Life and Real Life' and 'The Half-Brothers', how is sympathy created for the character in each, who makes an important sacrifice? Comment on language used, structure, and techniques. Use reference to the text to support your ideas, and compare the two texts as necessary. The two texts begin very differently, Schreiner, in Dream Life and Real Life, immediately begins to build a sense of sympathy in the reader. She begins repetitive use of adjectives like "little" and "alone". On the other hand, Elizabeth Gaskell, in the Half-Brothers, is far more implicit, throughout the story, in her use of language to describe Gregory. She focuses more on the ill treatment of others toward him; how he is described as "stupid" and "sulky". Gregory himself speaks very little throughout the story, though in my own opinion, he is the main character. We feel sympathy for him, and the verbal abuse he receives from others, as opposed to the obvious physicality of Jannita's mistreatment in 'Dream Life and Real Life'; "He asked her why her feet were bare, and what the marks on her back were". ...read more.

Middle

They are truly alone. Neither Jannita nor Gregory however, is described as being ill natured. Their characters are in fact described as something much to the contrary. The narrator describes Gregory briefly at a point nearing the end of 'The Half-Brothers'; "He was not a cross lad; he was patient and good-natured, and would try to do a kind turn for anyone, eve if they had been scolding or cuffing him not a minute before". This is a very effective technique used by Gaskell, as when we read this, we cannot help but wonder why he is so mis-treated, when he I quite clearly a good person. The same is evident in the case of Jannita, though the description is a little more implicit. Towards the start of the story, Jannita falls asleep whilst she is supposed to be watching her goats. Much to her misfortune, three men nearby take one of the goats. When she returns to the farmhouse, the Boer asks if she has been asleep, as he notices the missing sheep. ...read more.

Conclusion

As with Gregory, she pays for her goodness with her own life. The knowledge that both characters were good and kind, and had no obligation to make any sacrifice, went to the aid of such selfish and cruel people, adds to the extent of sympathy that the reader feels for them. The story raises issues of self-doubt within the reader; would you do the same? Could you bring yourself to help someone who was so cruel and hurtful towards you? I feel that both Gaskell and Schreiner are highly successful in creating sympathy for the main characters, and they achieve this in many ways. Their styles are very different; Schreiner being far more explicit than Gaskell, and the structure of their stories is also very varied. It is interesting to see that whist both texts are about such different things; 'Dream Life and Real Life' being far more focused on Jannita's escape from her tormenting masters, and 'Half-Brothers' centreing more around the relationships between Gregory and the other characters, they come to two very similar ends. Amber Doyle 10IS ...read more.

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