Jane Eyre as a Bildungsroman.docx - Jane Eyre as a Bildungsroman Jane Eyre betakes herself on the journey of life and in the novel the reader can watch

Jane Eyre as a Bildungsroman.docx - Jane Eyre as a...

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Jane Eyre as a Bildungsroman Jane Eyre betakes herself on the journey of life and in the novel the reader can watch the different steps she passes and accompanies her. On the one hand they can observe her behaviour objectively, her changes, her maturing process, her fears and challenges in a distant and objective way. They see how other people manage their life and are made aware of their changes without directly being a part of it. On the other hand the reader is able to identify with Jane Eyre and imagine how she must feel because, as I said before, every person changes during their life and experiences certain problems and challenges. It is widely recognized that one of the most accomplished versions of the Bildungsroman genre can be found in the works of Charles Dickens. Novels such as David Copperfield or Great Expectations are well recognized by readers and scholars alike, for their captivating stories concerned with human development. However, the novel which began the genre, and laid the foundations for many novels of later writers, is Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (1795- 1796). A novel concerning a young man’s
adventures and maturation process and his attempt to find meaning in life; it is a complex story which was enormously popular and successful at the time of it’s publication,and it continues tobe read with pleasure by many today. Although there is much argument as to the exact definition of the Bildungsroman form, it is generally regarded as a novel that is concerned with the formation of a character, and the character’s progress, or “growth from childhood to maturity” (Lynch). The protagonist of Goethe’s novel, Wilhelm, utters words which become the formula for the entire genre: “to develop myself, just as I am” (347), which can be understood, in other words, as an attempt, to take all that is potential inside his “self”, and to bring it to full maturation; to actualize and fulfill a potential. Wilhelm’s statement is what later becomes the idealist model of the Bildungsroman, and a pattern which many future writers come to use when composing their own works. As Martin Swales puts it, the Bildungsroman, as in Goethe’s model, is a story of “a man unfolding organically in all his complexity and richness” (14) – an approach, where bildung isthe formation of a character, that is by definition
conceivable only as a male. From its very inception, the Bildungsroman form has therefore been primarily concerned with the life stories of male characters. This essay attempts to present the Bildungsroman as a traditionally male construct, that can however, through the application of certain, less conventional devices, successfully present the development of female characters, such as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, in a different, but equally respectable and valued form.

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