A Comparison of Jane Eyre and Little Women

Powerful Essays
A Comparison of Jane Eyre and Little Women

The novels Jane Eyre and Little Women are strikingly similar in many ways, and the characters Jane Eyre and Jo March are almost mirrors of each other. There are many similarities between Jane and Jo, and also some differences, as well. From childhood, although they find themselves in completely different situations, both girls experience many of the same trials in their younger years. Jane is an orphan who has no family to call her own, and lives with an aunt and cousins who despise and dislike her. She was left penniless by the death of her parents, and is reminded daily by her house mates that she is inferior to them because of her circumstance. Jo grows up in a loving home with three adoring sisters and a mother, however, she also feels the absence of a parent, because her father is away at war. Jo is also poor, her father having lost all his money in an attempt to help a needy friend. In this way, both Jane and Jo are alike -- they both long for the life they had before they were poor, although Jane longs more for the richness of a family while Jo and her sisters desire the material wealth and the return of their father. However, in both cases, the girls' longing for these "riches" influence their whole young adulthood -- Jane clearly shows this the best when she refuses to become Mr. Rochester's mistress later in life, because of her continuous search for a stable family life.

Jane and Jo are also alike for other reasons. Both are mature for their ages, spending a great deal of time reading and thinking. They are both passionate and willful, although Jane shows her spirit more through occasional outbursts when provoked, while Jo is constantly losing her temper and making inappropriate comments. Both are also plain children, Jane having no features to make her beautiful, and no features to make her unattractive, as well. Jo is a tomboy, and therefore rejects the "appropriate" dress and actions for a girl of her age, hiding her beauty because it is "unmanly."

Later in life, Jane and Jo do many things that are similar, even though they are in different situations. After Laurie expresses his love to Jo and offers marriage, Jo rejects him, saying, "I don't see why I can't love you as you want me to. I've tried, but I can't change the feeling, and it would be a lie to say I do when I don't." (331) Jane, t...

... middle of paper ...

...reater than what they would have found overseas. It also seems to symbolically suggest the "plainess" of both the women -- by refusing the elegant lifestyle of France or the exotic nature of India, and to instead remain alone at home, it shows a rejection of the fancy and material things in life.

Both women eventually become teachers. Jane begins at Lowood where she was formerly a student, and then quickly moves on to Thornfield to become a governess. Jo begins as a governess at the Kirke's, and then later opens her own school. In this instance, Jo and Jane are the exact reversal of each other. Jane begins teaching to make money to survive, while it is one of Jo's dreams. In the end, Jane gives up teaching when it is no longer neccessary for her survival, and Jo opens her own school for her and her professor as soon as she inherits Plumfield.

Throughout Jane Eyre and Little Women, there are many similarities between Jane and Jo. Perhaps this is because they are both independent and strong-willed children, which leads them to the same sort of situtations in life. Their childhoods form the women that they grow up to become, which sets the similar scenes later in the novels.