Lit 200 Final.docx - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte...

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Interpreting Literature I have chosen to approach the passage from Jane Eyre through New Historicism. New Historicism proposes that all literature and art is the product of the historical experiences of their creator. These creations reflect and comments on the culture of that specific time and place. New historicism allows us to view both canonical – that is, what the majority of critics believe is the best work - and non-canonical works in order to interpret how poets, authors, and artists viewed and interpreted the events that happened around them. By looking specifically at non-canonical works, New Historicists can interpret the experiences of marginalized creators. Choosing a Lens New Historicism was created in order to oppose critical approaches that only looked at the text, such as Formalism and New Criticism. Literature does not exist in a vacuum and New Historicism is the foundation of this reasoning. While Formalism and Structuralism allow us to look at the text and interpret its literariness through the words on the page and the patterns they make, New Historicism views the text within the context of the culture and history that surrounded the creator at the time the text was created. New Historicism has a distinct advantage for works that were not written within the last several decades. Writers such as Shakespeare, Bronte, and Byron were inspired by experiences that we cannot fathom today. New Historicism allows us to also examine our own reaction to historical literature in much the same way reader-response would. However, New Historicism can often view literature and art in the same vein as any other historical document used to understand history, negating the artistry that went into it. Close Reading While at first glance the passage from Jane Eyre seems to fit a Marxist approach, Mr. Rochester’s socio- economic troubles stem from the social expectations of the period. It is through New Historicism that we can discern the societal expectations of both men and women during Victorian England. Mr. Rochester,

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