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Jane Eyre And Hard Times As Bildungsroman Novels. This Essay Examines The Traditional Bildungsroman Novel, Using The Examples Of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre And Charles Dicken's Hard Times.

2360 words - 9 pages

The traditional Bildungsroman novel is autobiographical in form and displays similarities with the author's own life, mostly with regard to childhood experiences. The novel displays a single individuals growth and development within the context of a defined social order. In most cases the protagonist is orphaned and experiences some form of loss or discontentment in order to spur them away from the family home or setting. The education of the main character is another aspect, which is crucial to their growth and development within the novel. It states in Todd (1980; 161) 1. that?'Ideally Bildungsroman heroes, who continue to pursue their own adolescent ideals and inclinations, are expected to conform eventually to a predetermined identity and become integrated with the society whose values are creating and molding them'.Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations and described Pips childhood experiences in great detail. It has been argued that most of the child characters Dickens portrayed in his novels resembled that of his own childhood experiences. Like Pip, Dickens received very little in the way of formal education.Charlotte Bronte uses many similarities in Jane Eyre that could be argued resemble her own experiences. She too like that of Jane was the daughter of a clergyman and was sent to a school called Norwood, which bares many similarities with that of Lowood. She also became a governess and this suggests that her own experience of a middle class working woman fighting to find a place in Victorian society was used to express her own views of life in that of Jane Eyre.In Great Expectations, Pip is typical of the main character in a Bildungsroman novel, as he is an orphan. Pip is brought up in a working class environment with his older sister and her husband, Joe Gargery. Pip rejects Joe as a substitute father and looks on him as more of a friend. This is evident in the passage when Joe states?'you and me is always friends' (12;ch.2) 2. The absence of a father figure for Pip reinforces the need for him to find some sense of identity and belonging in society.The possibility of a better life becomes apparent to Pip on his first meeting with Estella and Mrs. Haversham at Satis House. It is at this stage in the novel that Pip realises for the first time that he is of a lower social status. It is evident that Pip is aware of his social status when he says 'I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very different pair' (60;ch.8) 3.In Jane Eyre, once again the main character is typical of the Bildungsroman. Jane is an orphan living with her relatives, the Reeds. However she is brought up in a middle class society but is reminded that she is an outcast. Jane's struggle with her identity and place in society began before she was born, with her mother marrying a poor clergyman, who was considered beneath her by her family.Jane also experiences conflict within class structures in society. This is evident...

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