Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

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In the two stories, Jane Eyre and The Yellow Wallpaper, the main characters are faced with various encounters with authority. Jane and the Narrator are the central characters that are faced with these authority figures, and an external as well as an internal relationship is developed with the figures that have power over them. These two women also display a unique use of authority to benefit themselves at various points in the stories. Jane and the Narrator are first alike in the way that they outwardly express their feelings about the situations they are in by the use of actions and words. This open, verbal communication with these figures in their lives is a common trait between them, but what differs is that Jane's communication is positive (she gets her feelings in the open and is understood) and the Narrator never gets listened to. The second similarity between Jane and the Narrator is the inner attitude that they feel about the figures of authority. This attitude is present in both characters as the reader sees their inner thoughts and feelings as well as the words and actions that take place when the authority figures are not around. The last criterion that is common to both Jane and the Narrator is that each woman gains a power of authority near the end of their story. What differs between the two is how they go about possessing the authority, and how they use it when they finally have it. The end result is made up of similarities between the two women's characteristics, but differences in the way that they use those characteristics in their lives.
The novel Jane Eyre is about a young girl who goes through her life struggling with various life issues. Jane encounters people that treat her with little respect, the feeling of being trapped in situations that she is not happy in, and learning how to grow up as a poor girl who has to make all of her own decisions without any help.     A significant starting point in the novel Jane Eyre is at her arrival at Thornfield, and her meeting with Mr. Rochester. At that estate Jane is employed as the governess of a small child named Adele. At this point in Jane’s life, she is learning what it is like to be a paid subordinate under a master. This proves to be a good learning experience for Jane, and as the character of Rochester goes on to shape her life as she stays there, Jane learns and grows along with her feelings.

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At first, the relationship between Jane and Rochester is professional, but as the two grow to learn more about each other and talk more, they find that their feelings have changed into love. At the time of the wedding proposal, Jane has gone through huge changes in her stance. She began as a paid subordinate just as the rest of the people living in the house were, but after the proposal, she was faced with the responsibilities of becoming a rich wife. When the wedding day was upon them, Jane found out that she was a victim of Rochester's deceit. She could not marry him because he was already married to a lunatic who he kept locked in the attic of Thornfield hall. Jane realized that she could not live with him any longer, and she set out to find a new way of life. As she did so, she realized that she could never forget Rochester and her love for him. Since Jane was financially secured by a large inheritance, and her independence was strong, she realized that she was capable of going back to him. When she finally found him, she saw a crippled man. As the result of a fire that he was in, he lost his sight and part of his limb. This state of affairs was fortunate for their relationship, though, because Jane now felt that her love could be even stronger for him because their roles were able to be equal. This equality and love was strong enough between them to bond them together in marriage. This relationship ended up being positive, which was very unlike the Narrator and her husband in The yellow Wallpaper.
     In The Yellow Wallpaper, the main character is a mentally disturbed patient that has been moved to controlled living conditions by her husband John and his sister Jennie. The residence that she is staying in is an old mansion that is very secluded, and she is taken care of by John, who is a doctor. The story is shown to the reader through a series of journal entries that she is not supposed to be writing because of her declining health. In her first entries, the author reflects her mood and how the setting that she is in is affecting her health. As the entries progress through time, the reader can see how disconnected the narrator is becoming from her ordinary thoughts that she previously recorded. She begins an infatuation with the room that she is in, mainly with the paper that is on the walls. This eventually turns into a large drawn out episode, and the ides of discovering what is “inside” of the wallpaper is the only topic that she writes about. Not only does her writing style change along with her mental state, but so does her outlook on the people that are there to help her. The narrator becomes more secretive and mistrusting of the authoritative figures in her life, and believes that they will try to stop her from discovering what the truth is about the wallpaper. She sneaks around to carry out her plan to get at what is in the paper, and ends up taking over the room with her own force. The end result is her mental breakdown, and the astonishment of the people around her.
     Both Jane and the Narrator have male figures in their lives, to whom they are very close, but who also serve as authority figures toward them. During their stay with these men, Jane and the Narrator outwardly and openly discuss their relationships with them. The first interaction that Jane has with Mr. Rochester, and their next few meetings after that one are mainly on a dutiful level more than a personal level. Rochester exposes his authoritative side to Jane, and did so by asking questions about her life and where she has been. Jane reacts very professionally toward him, and gives him the answers that he desires, being very careful to only tell him as little as possible, and only what she believes that he wants to hear. This is very similar to the relationship that the Narrator and John have with each other. In her first entries the Narrator tells the reader that because John is her loving husband as well as her doctor, she does what he tells her to do, and takes her medicine and rests as he has prescribed. In the beginning of her entries, she is very thoughtful about what he is dong for her, and always agrees that he knows what is best for her.
     Through the rest of the two stories, the relationships begin to change. The women begin to take a very different approach with the authoritative figures in their lives, and become increasingly different. Jane is able to communicate openly and honestly with Rochester, but that is not true for the Narrator. She feels that John does not understand her at all, and must simply abide by his wishes so that he'll leave her alone.
     Jane begins to grow more comfortable talking with Rochester, and eventually admits to herself that her feelings for him have grown deeper and more serious. She is able to openly express these feelings for him when he too reveals that he shares the same loving feelings for her. Although Jane still feels tied down by Rochester's financial stability over her, Jane sees him as more of an equal on their personal terms. She shares more of her intimate feelings and thoughts with him and is less afraid to tell him what she wants.
This is the total opposite type of communication that the Narrator and her husband share. As the Narrator progresses through her illness, she realizes that she wants to talk to John about how this way of life and the house are affecting her. As she tells him, numerous times in the story, he never fully listens, and usually advises her to challenge her fears and become a stronger person by conquering them. As the entries in her journal progress, the reader sees that the result is not a growing relationship like Jane and Rochester’s, but instead turns into a deterioration of the Narrator and John’s relationship, and a deterioration of the Narrators mind, all due to the environment that John is keeping her in.

     Jane and the Narrator also convey to the reader their innermost thoughts and feelings about the authoritative men in their lives. This personal attitude can be very revealing at times and lead the reader to conclusions about the characters personality type, and also what may result in the end due to the carrying out of their secret thoughts. Jane first begins to reflect upon Rochester's character after their first discussion together. Mainly, Jane developed a curiosity about Rochester’s character, but did not let that get in the way of her professional relationship with him. Slowly, as the two became more acquainted with each other, Jane began to think about being a part of Mr. Rochester’s life. This leads her to realize her love for him, but does not help her to accept it. She denies that it would ever be possible to love the man that has authority over her. The Narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper has formed a very different attitude toward her husband that Jane's attitude is toward Rochester. The Narrator becomes more angry and upset with her husband because he will not listen to her concerns, and she even begins to suspect that he will become a threat to her plan to find out the answer to what is in the wallpaper in her room.
     This is a large turning point for both women’s relationships with the authoritative men in their lives. Two different mental attitudes arise from these women towards the men in their lives. Emotionally Jane and the Narrator have become opposites. As Jane’s love grows inside of her for Rochester, the Narrator becomes happy when John is not around to watch over her, and look at her in odd ways. At this point, the Narrator becomes very involved in her scheme, and only views John as an obstacle to get out of the way so that she will be able to carry out her ideas successfully.

     By the end of each story, the two main characters have acquired some form of authority over the men. It is to both of their benefits to make use of this new power, but how each woman does so is drastically different.
While Jane is away from Rochester, she inherits a large sum of money, which has left her financially secure, and she now has the capability to be independent and on her own. It is a this time that Jane decides that she wants to seek out Rochester, and in doing so she finds that because of her financially improved situation and his handicap, she and Rochester can live a happy life together. This is a type of authority that Jane uses over herself. Before she was insecure about having someone provide for her, but now Jane can rely on her own funds, as well as care for Rochester’s needs as a cripple. Now because Jane has this authority over herself and Rochester, she is content to stay in the life that she has chosen with him. As a reader, we see that Jane has used her authority to better herself and the others around her, and has gone about it in a positive fashion.
     Although the Narrator also exerts authority over her husband John, and although it is used to better herself, she uses that power in a negative way towards others. The Narrator tells the reader that as she writes in her journal, she must be secretive because it would be going against John’s wishes. This use of her own authority is negative because it would be seen as harming her personal self-interest. Again she displays negative use of authority when she sneaks around to fulfill her need to discover more about the wallpaper. The very last and most crucial episode of her authority is at the end of the story, when the Narrator locks her bedroom door to carry out the remainder of her mystery. As she goes drastically astray from reality, and rips apart her room, it shows the reader the exact situation that her husband was trying to prevent. It even leads him to fainting because he can not believe what she has done. Her use of authority was therefore negative because John would have said that if she had listened to him, then she would have fully recovered instead of fallen in the opposite direction.

     As both Jane and the narrator’s characters have been exposed through their interactions and thoughts about authority, we see some striking similarities as well as many differences.
     It is easy to compare the steps that each character has encountered with the men in their lives. Both Jane and the Narrator had dominant authoritative men in their lives, whom they talked to openly about their feelings, thoughts and ideas. Both also had inner psychological thoughts about their attitude towards these men. Last, both women reversed the role of authority to themselves, and used it to better some aspect of their lives.
     The contrast between these two women lies in how they carried out their relationships and express their attitudes towards these men. In Jane’s life, Rochester and herself grew closer to each other as a result of their communication, and how equal the roles between them have become. In contrast to the Narrator’s life, she was faced wit the challenge of ridding herself of the one thing that was blocking her form her main goal, and that was her husband. The communication was never equal between these two characters, and therefore their roles never balanced out. The Narrator succeeded in her plan only to become even more deeply absorbed in her own state of mental affairs, which distanced her from the world and John.
     This lead to the conclusion that communication in a relationship proved to be a successful tool when two people are trying to attain the same goal. Jane showed the positive side, that if authoritative figures listen and respond to those under them, things can become more equal, and possibly become closer together as people. The Narrator showed the negative side, that if communication is not achieved, then the best interest and even the health of the people involved can become jeopardized, and the result will be two separate people with conflicting views. Overall, these two characters dramatized what to do and what not to do when trying to uncover the mysteries of life: the human mind and love.
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