Responding to Pain in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea
In both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, the main characters Jane and Antoinette are faced with hardships that affect each of them in different ways. In the passages below, the authors Charlotte Bronte and Jean Rhys illustrate that Jane and Antoinette grew fond of inanimate objects in response to the hurt that they had suffered in life. Although Jane and Antoinette appear to have come from painful backgrounds, each deals with her pain in a different manner, and therefore each leads a very different life into adulthood. Because of their varying attitudes towards life and hardships, Jane and Antoinette lived very different life styles despite similarities early in life.
"... I then sat with my doll on my knee till the fire got low, glancing round occasionally to make sure that nothing worse than myself haunted the shadowy room; and when the ember sank to a dull red, I undressed hastily, tugging at knots and strings as I might best, and sought for shelter from cold and darkness in my crib. To this crib I always took my doll; human beings must love something, and in the dearth of worthier objects of affection, I contrived to find a pleasure in loving and cherishing a faded graven image, shabby as a miniature scarecrow. It puzzles me now to remember with what absurd sincerity I doated on this little toy, half fancying it alive and capable of sensation. I could not sleep unless it was folded in my night-gown; and when it lay there safe and warm, I was comparatively happy, believing it to be happy likewise...."
--from Jane Eyre, chapter 4
"...I left a light on the chair by my bed and waited for Christophine, for I liked to see her last thing. But she did not come, and as the candle burned down, the safe peaceful feeling left me. I wished I had a big Cuban dog to lie by my bed and protect me, I wished I had not heard a noise by the bamboo clump, or that I were very young again, for I then believed in my stick. It was not a stick, but a long narrow piece of wood, with two nails sticking out at the end, a shingle, perhaps. I picked it up soon after they killed our horse and I thought I can fight with this, if the worst comes to the worst I can fight to the end though the best ones fall out and that is another song. Christophine knocked the nails out, but she let me keep the shingle and I grew very fond of it, I believed that no one could harm me when it was near me, to lose it would be a great misfortune."
--from Wide Sargasso Sea, pg 37
During her childhood Jane faced many hardships. Her mother and father died when she was too young to remember, and Jane was left in the hands of those who had little security to offer her as a young girl. She was very lonely and had a doll to be her object of "affection." She felt that "human beings must love something" and therefore loved that doll. Bronte's calling the doll an object of "affection" rings into the reader's...