Question and South Riding presented class in

Question One: During the course of the semester the themes amongst the selected literature were all similar in the respect that they touched upon the style of writing shown in Bronte’s Jane Eyre, which was to be expected considering the point of the semester was to trace these similarities back through while comparing and contrasting the characters to that of other main characters within Jane Eyre such as Jane herself, Bertha, Mrs.

Fairfax, and Rochester. These themes include issues regarding class, as true to Victorian literature, race, and gender. The many other pieces of literature that were read over the semester touched on these issues with similar fashion, class in my opinion being a major issue being presented throughout. Both Rebecca and South Riding presented class in a way that I felt was most similar to that of Jane Eyre in regards to the struggles that derive from poverty or the lack of education around social decorum.

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The Holly’s within South Riding were from the poorer side of town and therefore had little education or means of representation except through Sarah and that of the council, and yet they were still met with a general response of distaste by those better off. The idea of education and social decorum is streamlined throughout Holtby’s novel, which is similar to that of Du Maurier’s main character and her feelings of inadequacy due to her previous social class. Antoinette within Wide Sargasso Sea faces issues with both class and race which resultingly spills into gender simply due to the nature of the novel and how Rochester’s imperialistic ideals come into play during their marriage.

As within Jane Eyre, Antoinette is represented as an exotic and oversexualized being due to her not being English enough for those around her, resulting from her place of birth being within the Caribbean and her subsequent separation from English aristocracy/high society. The Eyre Affair, in my opinion, deals with gender in the sense that the main female protagonist Thursday Next, uses her experiences from her mission to denounce the current war in which her country is in and thus could be considered a strong female character, although with little depth or true origin story. The entirety of the novel was presented in a way that seems to be the least relevant in regards to Jane Eyre itself due to a tangled mess of metatextuality that confused the audience with snippets of literary history that come across as Fforde fighting for admiration for his knowledge of British history. Whereas The Eyre Affair was muddled in the use of intertextuality and subplots, Wide Sargasso is one of the best adaptations of Jane Eyre that I have come across.

Expounding on the issues regarding Antoinette within Jane Eyre and giving a story to a such a major yet underappreciated character provides readers with a sense of closure or retribution for her treatment within the original storyline, while also putting into perspective the issues in which race and sexuality were represented to the audience. Before reading this novel I never truly understood the issues surrounding imperialism within literature, in which are shown plainly in the way that Rochester forced his ideals upon his new wife and going so far as to completely reject her and her way of life due to having lived within the Caribbean. Both reading Wide Sargasso Sea and learning of Gayatri Spivak’s ideals on imperialism have completely changed the way in which I perceive Jane Eyre itself. Question Three:Jane Eyre is oftentimes romanticized for the time period in which it was set within, Victorian ideals regarding class and mannerisms are oftentimes thought of out of context within both text and film alike. The idea of a main female protagonist who is the paradigm of composure with only small intervals of intense feeling or outbursts seem to be an aspect in which adaptations seem to cling to. An example of this would be Sarah from South Riding, her emotions seem to run on feelings of realism when it comes to life in general. Both of these characters are quite similar in that they are a developmental portrayal of the human conscience while still remaining problematic in the sense that their development is ended due to the conclusion of the story itself, Jane getting what she wants due to Rochester being debilitated and penniless, and Sarah due to the death of Carne. Relationships and marriage are also another aspect that is commonly depicted with similarities, such as within Du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Both are gothic romances with an aspirational marriage plot with undertones of sublimated rage and repressed sexuality throughout usually taking place within secluded countryside estates where the eligible men are dark, mysterious, and brooding with a past full of secrets. These secrets tend to be in relation to their past marriage or relationship and the murder or dehumanization of said spouse, a theme in which the class explored throughout the semester in an attempt to find who is the Jane, Rochester, or Bertha of whichever literary piece we were to analyze. The differences found within Rebecca to that of Jane Eyre could be due to the time in which they were written, when audiences longed for a more romantic gothic novel. Rebecca was certainly sold as such, although the underlying plot still remained that of aspirational marriage the characters that are so commonly compared to one another are quite different. Rebecca’s main female protagonist is mousy and anxious throughout the novel whereas Jane could be described as sassy and determined for self independence, this could be due to the time in which they were written or a means to an end in relation to plot.

Question Four:Jane Eyre contains the struggle with complex questions that seem to reverberate with readers, specifically women, who can see themselves within Bronte’s heroines. Inward struggles on how to avoid the temptation of relationships where there is no true affection and how to achieve dignity and respect regardless of the status they hold. The journey for basic principles of self identity and expression are commonly found throughout the novel while brushing aside many of the expectations of Victorian gothic novels and what they were meant to portray to the audience. The eventual resolutions presented are also not easily attained, there is a certain degree of sacrifice that must be had for Jane’s eventual happiness to be achieved. And although I find the novel to be problematic in many ways, especially through a feminist lense, the characters fight to be seen despite her mousy or modest appearance and to be treated with the same sense of equality as those around her is commendable and resonates to many women into the twenty first century. These instances of relatable human emotion coupled with depictions of outspokenness and female desire seem to continue to thrill readers, although the concept of the individual was not common during the time in which Jane Eyre was written with Bronte being considered one of the first writers of Victorian gothic literature to adventure into the idea of the individual self.

The plot itself was written well outside of a few holes here and there, plot devices would not be what I would say has kept the novel relevant, but the way in which the characters were written and how deeply readers connected to those characters. Because the novel paid such close attention to the human experience rather than older tropes regarding epics and romances this novel made an ideal catalyst for how audiences understood the more modern idea of the individual. Bronte’s novel covering the first hand account of the human experience and the peculiarities that come with such an existence coupled with the revolution of the printing press are a few reasons in which I would say Jane Eyre has retained its relevance into today. Question Five: Which novel stretched you most as a reader? Which theorist stretched you the most and why?


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