The novels, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, and House of Mirth, by Edith
Wharton, contain many similarities and differences of which I will discuss in this essay.
The focus will be on the main characters of each book, Jane Eyre, and Lily Bart and will
include important points and ideas demonstrated in these novels.
To begin, Jane, from Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, was an orphan who
was raised by an upper-class family who resented her and did not want her, therefore
torturing, abusing, and treating her as someone at a status even lower than the servants.
As a child, she knows that her status is awkward and even later on, as a grown woman,
she is considered a second class citizen simply because of her sex. Further into the
novel, once she has become the governess at Thornfield, the social status put upon
her is inferior to Rochester and others of high class. She is forced into this social
standing despite the fact that she is expected to display the manners and education of
an upper-class woman. In comparison, Lily, of Wharton’s novel, House of Mirth, was
raised in a very prestigious, well-to-do family and grows up to be one of New York’s
most eligible socialites. As an irresponsible, uncontrollable gambler, Lily tends not to worry, nor give her bad habit a second thought because she is under the impression that her “out of reach” way of life and her elite circle of friends will be her protection from the consequences that her actions may bring. However, the novel takes a turn and Lily’s compulsive gambling is discovered, resulting in being cut off financially by her family and being cast out by her peers. For the first time in her life, now poor and alone, she must...
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...from one another and as a result, grew up with different values and senses for what was truly important in life and what was truly necessary to survive. Jane emerged from a strict, abusive upbringing, into a well-rounded, strong-minded, responsible, and dedicated adult who triumphed in the end. Lily suffered a fate that she almost seemed destined for. Lily shares her name with a common flower. This fact may contain an aspect of symbolism in that like a dying flower, Lily’s character gradually begins to “wilt” as
the novel goes on. Even her last name, Bart, shows symbolism in that it contains the
word “art” which may imply something about the materialistic world that she tries to be a part of. Interestingly, and perhaps most symbolic, is the fact that the lily is the “flower of death”, an outcome that her whirlwind, uptight, unrealistic life inevitably led her to.
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