Jane Eyre vs House of Mirth Lily
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 find a job and a home in the lower-class slums of New York. And, although women without money, in that era, did have jobs, Lily’s problem was that she was not willing to give up the glamorous life she was raised to lead. To point out another difference in status between the two characters, Jane Eyre rarely displayed a longing to be part of the higher class, whereas, Lily Bart is intrigued and attracted by it.
Another comparison between Lily and Jane can be made regarding beauty. This
topic is apparent almost immediately in House of Mirth. In the beginning of the book, it is expressed that, “One or two persons, in brushing past them, lingered to look; for Miss Bart was a figure to arrest even the suburban traveller rushing to his last train” (p.18). He goes on to wonder that, “she must have cost a great deal to make, that a great many dull and ugly people must have been sacrificed to produce her” (p.20). These excerpts demonstrate Lily’s external beauty. This notion is made even more obvious in the line, “the qualities distinguishing her from the herd of her sex were chiefly external”. Lily was beautiful and charming which may have aided her on her way to popularity. Even her name, Lily, implies beauty and can...