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such a good second paper

such a good second paper - Dylan Douglas Professor Ogden...

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Dylan Douglas Professor Ogden Lit. 03/23/09 A Story of vitalism Charlotte Bronte’s novel, “Jane Eyre,” is the story of a girl who rejects the simple, ordinary life customary of an English 18 th century society and instead pursues happiness by living an unconventional life of energy. She is persuaded into this discourse by and for her own freewill and the requirement that she upholds of joy and satisfaction for herself. Through her different living situations and stations in life as a child, servant, and woman, she constantly learns and applies 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 as the reader finds Jane in a continuous cycle of feeling confined, adjusting her mindset (and subsequently her discourse) in given situations, and then repeating the first step again. 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, described by many as ‘vitalism,’ is a philosophy that favors energy over stasis. Living life with 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 that Eyre’s life takes place in (mid 1800s). As an orphaned child who is 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 distaste for taking “long
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walks outdoors,” and who would rather spend the time solitarily inside her aunt’s estate, known as Gateshead Hall (Bronte, pg 5). This is the direct result of the poor social environment that she is subject to live in. She is alienated and treated as a deviant under the care of Mrs. Reed and is falsely accused of mischief for which she receives punishment on discreditable pretenses. 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
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