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The representation of childhood in 'I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings' (novel one) and 'Jane Eyre' (novel two) educates the reader about the social, cultural and historical issues of each time.

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Introduction

Wide reading coursework The representation of childhood in 'I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings' (novel one) and 'Jane Eyre' (novel two) educates the reader about the social, cultural and historical issues of each time. Novel one was written by a black American writer, Marguerite (Maya) Angelou. The novel is written is an autobiography and was written in the 1960's recounting events that happened in the period of the 1930's - 1940's. The novel was not published until 1984 as racial segregation and inequality for black people was still present in society in the 1960's. Novel two was written by Charlotte Bront� when she was thirty-one. The novel was first published in 1847 under the male pseudonym of Currer Bell. Bront� wrote a letter to the Poet Laureate of the time who advised her to behave like a woman and give up her writing career. Bront� was condemned by the society of the time for making the character of Jane wilful. Unlike novel one, which is a factual autobiography, novel two is written as an autobiography but is actually fictional. Both novels are Bildungsroman. These types of text describe the progress of characters from childhood to maturity. The novelists both use first person narration and this enables the authors to control the story, as it is the narrators thoughts and feelings which are the focus of attention, even when a different character is speaking. ...read more.

Middle

In novel one this theme deals with Mays being a black female child. Being a black child made Maya Angelou invisible to white adults. This is shown in the novel when the white dentist ignores her, 'He had never once looked at me.' In novel two Jane also has the feeling of being invisible to adults and this is shown in a paragraph where she is describing her own appearance, ' I thought it like one of the tiny phantoms.' The character Jane has to deal with the feeling of being unequal to even her aunts servants, ' You are less than a servant.' In novel two there is a theme, which is constant throughout the novel, and this is moral courage. Jane has to grow up in a house where no one cares for her and therefore has to strive to earn their respect. This was typical of an orphaned child in the nineteenth century because they were seen by society as being at the very bottom of the social ladder. This was also true for Maya Angelou. Angelou grew up in a society, which was controlled by white people. She had to work hard to gain recognition in this society of white supremacy. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jane describes certain things in the room to have religious connotations, 'tabernacle' and 'shroud.' In novel one religious language is used throughout, ' angel', 'penance' and 'prayers.' Childhood is represented in both texts through the narrators. Childhood shows cultural issues because in both novels the children are discriminated against. Maya Angelou was a black child and the culture of the white people caused them to racially discriminate her. Jane was discriminated against because she was a poor orphaned child living with upper class people. Social issues are revealed through the situations that the children are placed in. Segregation between white people and black people shows that white people were seen as superior and that black people were seen as 'rubbish.' Social issues in novel two are shown in the discrimination of Jane because she was lower class. Historical issues are revealed through the cultural and social issues. The cultural and social issues were common of the time that each novel was written in. Some of the historical issues in the novels have been passed down form century-to-century and decade-to-decade. Prejudice, racism and inequality are all still present in our society today. Charlotte Bront� might have thought that in the future theses words would not be in use but unfortunately there are still people who subject others to these three things. Danielle Faulkner ...read more.

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