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'The Oakum Room' and 'Jane Eyre' both show women in oppressive Victorian institutions - Show how the two writers bring out the nature of those institutions and the way the women react to their situation.

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Introduction

The Oakum Room and Jane Eyre 'The Oakum Room' and 'Jane Eyre' both show women in oppressive Victorian institutions. Show how the two writers bring out the nature of those institutions and the way the women react to their situation. One of the texts was an extract from the novel Jane Eyre, which was written in the nineteenth century by Charlotte Bronte. On the other hand, The Oakum Room is a short story written in the 1970's by Theresa Tomlinson. The first text I read was The Oakum Room, which is a short story about the lives of homeless, used women. These women are monitored every day by very hard people with little sympathy towards the inmates. The women spend their lives in a workhouse mainly in The Oakum Room, picking oakum which is the mixture of tar and old rope, used to seal wooden boats. The women were ordered to spend all day picking all ropes to bits with their bare hands and were treated like dirt. This left them with scarred hands and it was as tough as the skin of a beast. The inmates could not leave because under the Vagrancy Laws, it was illegal to be homeless, as they wouldn't have any where to go. The story of The Oakum Room describes the working and living conditions of these women. An important part of The Oakum Room is the condition of work. We already know that the women were treated like slaves and worked, lived, ate in silence - just to show the nature of institution. We also know the result of working in The Oakum Room: The dust in the atmosphere spread disease around, food was unhealthy and because of these two, the result was the girl getting tuberculosis, "The distress showing in her eyes, with the violet shadows beneath". Readers at first might think this is caused by them getting abused but it's not the case. ...read more.

Middle

This includes her first acquaintance with tuberculosis, her experience with eating unhealthy food and her treatment in the boarding school. Jane Eyre is set in the early to mid nineteenth century and we see how different life today is, compared with the time which Jayne lived. In the nineteenth century, school was not required for girls and that is why many people had little or even no education at all. If you were rich, you would have a good education, but you would not have to work. If you were poor however, your education, if any would not be of a very good standard and you would have to work to earn enough money to survive. Today, men and women are treated relatively equally, which was certainly not the case in the nineteenth century. In the nineteenth century, the laws were poor as this was shown as each town or village would have a place where people would be sent if they were homeless or destitute. There they would work for their hard physicality for no money but for a roof over their heads and eat very basic food. Men were separated from women and children were taken away from mothers. From reading the text there were many other different things I can notice. Even though they were children (characters from Jane Eyre), they weren't in good health and weren't taken care of. Just like animals, they weren't freed well. From the description of what and how they ate, gives us, the readers an idea that they were treated as in the same way as the characters from The Oakum Room. We see this from the quote, "Pitcher of water and mug", which is the same amount of food the females ate from The Oakum Room ate, "Potatoes and thin liquor that they called gravy". They all ate very little in Jane Eyre and this is reinforced by the word in the text of the novel, 'Fragment' - small pieces. ...read more.

Conclusion

In The Oakum Room, the main character, Susan, finds Polly a female she can relate to. We see the same story line in Jane Eyre. Jayne finds a soul-mate, Helen who to is a female and who she can relate to. In both texts, these two characters, Polly and Helen are the only people that Susan and Jayne talk to. None of these characters are shown any remorse or gratitude and only we, the readers can see their true selves as the only express their feelings towards their soul mates. The Oakum Room and Jane Eyre both show women in oppressive Victorian intuitions. The two writers bring out the nature of those institutions and the way the women react to their situation as The Oakum Room has the same story line (females treated as a lower class citizen to men) to Jane Eyre as both were set in the Victorian times. In The Oakum Room we can see the story line of women fighting for their rights - standing up for themselves and in Jane Eyre girls try to stand up for them selves (later on in the story). Women, in the nineteenth century were treated as if they were inferior to men. Poor women were expected to work as well as look after their husbands i.e. cook, clean and serve their husband like a slave to his master - This can be seen in The Oakum Room and rich women were just there to be decorative basically. Still, rich women were to please their husband, but not by cooking and cleaning etc., as servants would be employed to do this but by having a standard education and supporting a husband. The story of Jane Eyre was leading up to this. The country was definitely male dominated, in both stories and in both stories; we see a rebellion by women to be treated as equally as men. This is how women reacted to the situation, by standing up for themselves and protesting. Pukar Bhattarai 1 English - Wide Reading ...read more.

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