Essay on Fighting the Fire: Women in the Victorian Era

Essay on Fighting the Fire: Women in the Victorian Era

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One may come too close to the fire and let her demons consume her, leaving all but the ashes and dust. Others can overcome these obstacles and can wash away the burning flames of sadness. Antoinette is unable to control this fire, while Jane is able to wash away these restraints. According to Spivak, the concepts of “Self and Other” refers to how people are defined by who they are in relation to others; the “other” allows the Self to exist as empowered (Spivak cited in Rodenburg). In this essay, I will discuss how Antoinette, from Wide Sargasso Sea, and Jane, from Jane Eyre, both face similar challenges throughout their lives, but deal with their pains in different manners. I will argue that both Jane and Antoinette experience social barriers with being an “other” character in a patriarchal society, but Jane is able to overcome this power because she is more independent and has more self-worth as opposed to Antoinette, who remains a victim of this male dominance due to her submissive nature.
Jane is seen as an “other” character due to her social status and the hierarchy evident in Victorian times. She is hired as a governess at Thornfield, to tutor Adèle, a young girl Rochester adopted. During the Victorian era, a governess was regarded as being almost equivalent to a regular house servant, and this is how Jane is treated when she first arrives at Thornfield. Rochester therefore has some control over Jane because Thornfield is his home. Jane soon begins to experience some tension when she recognizes her secret affection for her master. She does not believe though that Rochester could ever fall in love with her because of her social status (Brontë 264). By contrast, Blanche Ingram, who treats Jane condescendingly, is quite wealthy ...


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In conclusion, Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, show how some individuals, like Jane, can overcome the social barriers of being an “other” character, while others like Antoinette, may be too overwhelmed by these constraints. Jane’s perseverance for social status frees her from feeling powerless. Antoinette’s submissive personality causes Rochester to take her for granted. Unfortunately, Antoinette is not able to resist her disempowerment as an “other” character and she could not survive the flames. Jane overcomes the flames, and she washes away the setbacks that “other” characters experience.



Works Cited

Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview, 1999. Print.
Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. N.p.: Penguin, 2001. Print.
Rodenburg, Linda. "Long Day's Journey into Night" ENGL 1112. Lakehead University, Orillia, ON. March 3, 2014. Lecture.

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