PAPER TWO rough - Dylan Douglas Prof Ogden Lit Jane Eyre A...

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Dylan Douglas Prof. Ogden Lit. 03/23/09 Jane Eyre: A Story of growth towards Vitalism Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, is the story of a girl who experiences a shift from leading a simple, ordinary life in the confines of her 18 th century society, towards living an unconventional life of energy. She is persuaded into this discourse by her own will and the requirement that she upholds for joy and satisfaction. Through her different living situations and stations in life as a child, servant, and woman, she is constantly learning and applying new additions to her personal discourse. She gravitates towards many existential conclusions about herself and, as she encounters new people and obstacles, she establishes what does and does not fit into her growing ideals for her life. With these experiences comes a series of negative characters who she uses as examples of what not to become just as she sees and mimics the positive styles of being of those who she views as honest, good-hearted, and wise. She both idolizes and mimics those positive styles of being that she sees fit in others as she adopts her own morals and religious beliefs. This process of building and developing is depicted very genuinely and at the completion of the novel, through all of her hardships and turmoil, the result is a very competent, independent, and dedicated woman. The kind of life that Jane is allured to, known by many as Vitalism, is a philosophy that favors energy above all else. Energy is seen as the path to eternal delight and exuberance is regarded as beauty. The old saying, “He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence” is central to the belief of Vitalism and as the story unfolds, it becomes a key proponent in Jane’s decision making. A main element of Vitalism is exhilaration, a condition of being that conflicts with the expectations of stagnancy for women in the time period (mid 1800s) and that Eyre’s life takes place in. As an orphaned child who was left to be raised by her cruel aunt, Mrs. Reed, Jane’s early existence is one that is characterized by the stigma of being a burden. As a child she is depicted as an introvert; she was content with reading books and is said to have “never liked long walks,” but would instead rather stay indoors (Bronte, pg 5). She is treated as an outsider and a
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deviant at the home of Mrs. Reed, known as Gateshead Hall, and is regularly subject to being falsely accused of mischief for which she receives punishment. Her aunt discourages her own three children from socializing with Jane and this results in Jane having overall unpleasant, degrading, and at times even abusive relations with these cousins. However, while Jane is sick and exiled to sleep in the basement of the estate by Mrs. Reed, one of her cousins, Bessie Reed, shows her compassion by bringing her food and treating her respectfully (despite the wishes of the cruel mistress). Despite this, the situation at this point is one customary to confinement, oppression, and general disregard. Bessie becomes one of Jane’s first female role models in the story, as she performs freely
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This note was uploaded on 09/05/2011 for the course ENGISH 350: 220 taught by Professor Mcclure during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.

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PAPER TWO rough - Dylan Douglas Prof Ogden Lit Jane Eyre A...

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