This sample essay on Independence In Jane Eyre provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
‘Jane Eyre’ begins with Jane’s childhood and how she treated by the Reed family she lives with. She is bullied by Master John Reed and not treated with any respect or kindness by the older members of the household.
Shirley Valentine has in a way a similar life but it starts much later in her lifetime: She is middle aged and married and feels not so much neglected but unappreciated by her husband and children (whom have grown up and left home).
Then probably the most important part of each text is when the two characters take on a big change. For Jane it is when she is being bullied by Master Reed and is wrongly punished when she fights back which shows that she is not highly regarded in the household.
She is punished by being locked in the ‘red room’ and instead of just taking the punishment she fights and shouts at her captors. To further prove this was not normal behavior by Jane, Bessie (a housemaid) says ‘she never did so before’cpt8 which miss Abbot replies ‘But it was always in her’cpt8. This last statement shows that this anger Jane suddenly let loose had been obvious to the staff in the house and was probably due to the behavior of Master Reed and other members towards her.
This kind of behavior by Jane was showing an outside change in Charlottes world as the suffragettes were starting to make a change to society, as a few years before this kind of outburst by young women would never have been seen and definitely not tolerated. So I think this was a way for Charlotte Bronte to show that the world was changing and this was not a classic gothic novel of which we see evidence later in the text. So this was a new style of writing and was to change the way women were written about in books and even thought of in society.
Shirley Valentine is looking back on her life when her biggest change in character appears. She looks back on her life when she and her husband Joe had just moved into their house, they were happy and Joe spent a lot of time at home with her and they were having fun. As the text turns back to the future it shows that Joe’s is working more and their lives have got into a rut and routine.
Shirley thinks back again to a girl she met at school who was the opposite to Shirley at school; she tried at school and was well behaved while Shirley felt she just wasted her time at school. It’s clear at the end of this section in the text she wishes she was in her school friends position now and thinks she would be living a more exciting and forfilling life.
The exact time of Shirleys’ outbreak is when she brings home a steak for Joe’s dinner (which must be the same every week) and she feeds it to the dog next door, which Shirley feels is being neglected. When Joe comes home he gets angry with Shirley because she gave away his steak. Under all this Shirley’s friend has offered her a trip to Greece which Shirley has not told Joe about. When Joe gets angry that evening she tells him and she shouts back at Joe, he almost convinces her it’s a stupid idea. Until she meets up with her school friend who is now a prostitute and tells Shirley to go, as does Shirley’s neighbor who is very refined and quiet but seems to admire Shirley for leaving.
The next day she left and had gone to Greece. Shirley left for Greece to escape from being a mother, as her daughter had just returned home from living away and was already treating Shirley like a slave, she also escaped Joe and the routine she had got into with him. In a way I think she was trying to be young again, which is unlike Jane, as Jane seems to want to grow up quickly.
I don’t think that Joe is entirely to blame for Shirley’s change. It was written in the 1980’s and this was a time when people were working harder and for longer hours than ever before. And the roles of couples at home were changing round and more women wanted to travel and see more of life as they had more time and money to do so.
Going back to the ‘Jane Eyre’ text Jane changed again when she met her friend Helen Burns at Lowood (an orphanage Jane is sent to by the Reed family). Which she is moved to, whom is thought to be the figure of Charlotte Bronte’s own older sister, Maria.
Jane also becomes befriended with a young teacher at her school (Miss Evans). Together Helen and Miss Evans teach Jane to be a lot calmer and to change her pent up anger into passion, which would get Jane into less trouble. Miss Evans also shows a kindness Jane has never really had before and Jane sees that it is possible to have a friendship and mutual respect for people, like Jane has with Helen before Helen dies.
Later on in Jane’s life she meets a man she has begun to work (Rochester) for and a relationship forms between them which I feel would not of happened if Jane had not had the guidance from her friends Helen and Miss Evans, as Rochester is very much as Jane was, and he too was in need of changing.
This is similar for Shirley. While on holiday she meets a local man named Costas whom she has a relationship and she falls in love with the life she has now found and is not necessarily in love with Costas but just the thought that she is living. The end of this all comes when Shirley has to leave Greece as it’s the end of her holiday. Shirley decides to stay.
Jane however end this part of her life and her relationship when she is to be married to Rochester who I think she has fallen in love with but still has doubts. When she is told that Rochester is already married, and his wife is mentally ill and she lives in the attic of his house. Instead of staying with Rochester Jane leaves and turns down a marriage of convenience to her cousin, St. John. Which is very similar to Shirley as Shirley decides not to go home and when she finds Costas in a bar with another woman and it is clear he is trying to woo her the same way he did to Shirley she is not bothered, she had turned down trying to be with Costas and Shirley phones her husband and asks him over to Greece to see her. I think that this experience has changed Joe, maybe he will appreciate Shirley more and they could have a better marriage.
I think Shirley has now earned independence, instead of waiting on Joe and her children Joe now has to go to Shirley or risk loosing her. Shirley also has nobody she would rather be and is content with who she is and what she is doing.
When Rochester’s wife burns down his house and dies. Jane returns to him, now blind they then are together when she now leads him and she has independence and prowess over him. She had ignored any attempt of seduction from Rochester before his accident and she had refused a convenient marriage. She had also learned to forgive as when she went back to see the dying Mrs. Reed, when previously Jane had sworn never to return to her house and told Mrs. Reed: ‘I will never call you an aunt again o long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am grown up’cpt4 The fact that she did come back is the biggest sign of Jane’s change into an independent woman who is not ruled by her anger or overpowering family, lovers of friends. Jane was now independent.
The texts have before seen as feminist text where both women are fighting against men in their lives and escaping control and traditional women’s roles in society. For Shirley it was escape from a bored marriage and the home which she is practically a cleaner and cook.
For Jane it was showing she was stronger in will than the men in her life and the text was not to be a traditional gothic novel in which, the heroine was usually saved by a man, unlike Jane who saved herself from abusive men (Such as Mr. Brockelhurst of her school who was a crushing force on the participants of the school) and Master Reed.
Jane was also seen as romantic, but I don’t think is. Jane is more independent than reliant on a partner whom she could easily of left and not married and I feel she might not be entirely happy or in love with Rochester due to the way they came together through tragedy and misfortune.
To get across each story was done very differently. In Shirley Valentine, Shirley talks directly to the audience/reader but shown that she is talking to a wall which shows she is lonely and is a good way of reaching the audience and really getting a full show of thought and emotion.
In Jane Eyre, Jane her life is observed and doesn’t tell you her inner thoughts and views, but does give more room for speculation of how Jane feels about the people she encounters.
I think that both characters value their independence most of all as they went so far to find. I also think they have similar views on the world around them and they both appreciate life more and can better now their lives have improved so much.
A big difference in the style of these text is that it is a lot easier to relate to Shirley as she uses simple and modern language and it’s easier to follow her life and not get lost in complicated text. Although Shirley Valentine does go from present too past often and can be confusing to tell which is past or present. Though Jane’s life is chronological years are skipped forward between one chapter and another and so can again be confusing, especially when the text in Jane Eyre is decadent and almost unrealistic, and a lot of text maybe unnecessary.
These differences tell us a lot about each character. Shirley is more down to earth and has a working class attitude and a strong accent which people can relate too. Jane sounds too had a wealthier upbringing and uses old language, which can set many readers out of touch with the character.