A Comparison of the Ideals of Bronte in Jane Eyre and Voltaire in Candide

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The Ideals of Bronte in Jane Eyre and Voltaire in Candide

Subjective novelists tend to use personal attitudes to shape their characters. Whether it be an interjection of opinion here, or an allusion to personal experience there, the beauty of a story lies in the clever disclosure of the author's personality. Charlotte Bronte and Voltaire are no exceptions. Their most notable leading characters, Jane Eyre and Candide, represent direct expressions of the respective author's emotions and impressions. In their stories, Bronte and Voltaire create fictional settings and imaginary scenes. However, through the psyche of their leading protagonists, Bronte and Voltaire genuinely portray their own inner world they are their own subjects. While the novels Jane Eyre and Candide are in no manner outright autobiographies, they are extremely similar in that the experiences and beliefs of Bronte and Voltaire serve to characterize Jane and Candide. A careful examination of both works reveals that Jane and Candide evince the contrasting ideals of Bronte and Voltaire in various spheres.

As individuals, Voltaire and Charlotte Bronte could not have been any more different. They lived in opposing eras, had unlike backgrounds, and espoused divergent philosophies. While Candide, which some consider the epitome of the eighteenth century Enlightenment, uses satire to achieve its goals, Jane Eyre uses extensive descriptions to take the reader on a psychological roller coaster through the mind of its leading character. Analysis shows that the two authors will seldom agree on many issues. However, by the end of both novels, Jane and Candide have become very much alike. Answering the question of how this transformation occurs necessitat...

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...the attainment of happiness with a simultaneous discovery of a personal identity. Jane Eyre and Candide are not only fictionalized versions of their creators, but also the very epitome of modern mankind. They look to their hostile surroundings and inside themselves to find answers to life's questions. In their struggles, we share their agony. In victory, we share their triumphs.

Works Cited

Berg, Maggie. Jane Eyre: A Student's Companion to the Novel. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987.

Blom, Margaret. Charlotte Bronte. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1977.

Bottiglia, William. "Candide's Garden". Voltaire: A Collection Of Critical Essays. Ed. William Bottiglia. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1968. 87-111.

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.

Voltaire. Candide. Trans. Lowell Bair. New York: Bantam Books, 1959.

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