Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Bronte, takes place in England around the nineteenth century. It is about a young girl named Jane who starts her life out living in Gateshead with her so called aunt, Mrs. Reed, and her cousins. The main reason why Jane lives with them is due to her parents charity. Throughout her childhood, Jane is treated poorly by the Reed family and puts up with it for many years. Finally, one day Jane speaks up which ends in her being sent to the “red-room,” which is where Mr. Reed died. Jane states, “no severe or prolonged bodily illness followed this incident of the red-room: it only gave my nerves a shock, of which I feel reverberation to this day” ( Bronte 22). The room made people nervous and sometimes made them feel things. Jane feels her uncle’s presence in the room, and thinks that he is out for revenge on Mrs. Reed for treating Jane unlike her own children. Finally Jane gets the right to go to school at Lowood; however, the school is for orphans, requires no money to go there, and does not allow the students to groom at times. Jane’s aunt tells the school how “bad” of a kid she is and after a little Mr. Brocklehurt tells the school about Jane’s so called lying issues she has. This made everyone shun her in school. Jane makes a friend, Helen, who along with her teacher, Miss Temple, assist Jane and make her life much easier to endure. Soon after life for the students gets easy, it gets hard again but to an illness that overtakes more than half the children in the school. After school, Jane attends a position in Thornfield. Before she parts for her new position, she is told that her father’s brother, John Eyre, came looking for Jane. Once she arrives at Thornfield, she feels very welcomed and meets the owner Mr. Rochester. Rochester and Jane seem to get very close throughout the novel. He stays awake one day telling Jane about his past. Later on, Jane saves his life from a burning room. After this, she feels something for Rochester. Jane says, “he made me love him without looking at me”(Bronte 177). Also, Jane gets suspicious of Grace Poole, who works at Thornfield. Jane later returns to Gateshead where she learns that her father’s brother had wanted to adopt her three years ago. Once she returns to Thornfield, Rochester asks her to marry him and he later on explains many significant situations that occur before their wedding comes. As the wedding day arrives, Jane finds out that Rochester is married still to Mrs. Mason, who is locked up and is taken care of by Grace Poole due to her becoming insane. This ends up making Jane leave town and live at the River families house who help her out. She lands a job as a teacher and becomes infatuated with St. John and Rosamond’s relationship. St. John figures out that Jane is really Jane Eyre and he tells her about a large sum of money that was left behind for her from her uncle. Jane ends up allowing St. John to direct almost their whole life, and asks her to marry him, but she refuses and moves back to Thornfield. She arrives at the place to find out that it has been burned down by Mrs. Mason. Rochester and Jane end up finding each other and he proposes again to Jane. They end up marrying and live as equals. Jane does some good deeds for people after their marriage. The fire had made Rochester blind, which Jane helps him to cope with. Later on, Jane and Rochester end up making a family of their own. The novel shows the way social class was split up during the nineteenth century. Also, the book shows how women were seen still inferior to men. St. John felt that he was greater than Jane, and ended up ruling her life. The novel mostly revolves around how people fit in with society related to their gender, religion and wealth.
1) How would you feel if you were treated poorly by a family that you did not choose to be raised by?
2)Would you want to live as an orphan, like Jane,atleast for a day to see what it is like? If so what do you think a true American orphanage looks like and treats children like?
3)Jane loves Rochester, but throughout the novel she seems to run away from her love. What would you do if you were about to marry someone and you find out they are already married, yet they say that there is nothing to worry about?
4) Many people in America treat others poorly, like how Jane was treated by the Reed family. What is there for us to do to help out the ones being teated badly?
5)Today do you feel like people are still put into social classes due to their wealth, religion, or gender? If so give an example.

Sense and Sensibily by Jane Austin

When Mr. Dashwood dies, he must leave most of his estate to his son by his first marriage, which leaves his second wife and three daughters (Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret) in hard circumstances. They are taken in by a kind cousin, but their lack of money "fortune" affects the marriageability of both practical and sensible Elinor, and romantic and outgoing Marianne. When Elinor falls for the wealthy Edward Ferrars, his family disapproves and separates them. And though Mrs. Jennings tries to match the worthy and also very rich Colonel Brandon to her, Marianne finds the dashing Willoughby more to her liking. But love has a way of getting lost, and sometimes never comes back. This is a time in life where one must have money ( the man of course) and if the woman is not wealthy she has a hard time finding someone, "for he was rich, and she was handsome." Chapter 8, pg. 32. Many of the poeple only married for money, but these sisters weren't like them and wanted something more. Will love concur all and will the hardships and heartbreak leave true love lost and is a happy ending in the future for both the sister who is all sense and the one who is all sensibility.

1) In this novel money is very important and has a great deal on marriages. If you would get married would money play a role in your decision?

2) Do you think it is fair that most woman back then could not have and control much money even if it belongs to them? How have women changed since that time period?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

To the Lighthouse- Virginia Woolf

To the Light House by Virginia Woolf is a novel that reflects the impermanence of life and focuses more on thoughts and the inner workings of the characters rather than their actions. It follows the life of the Ramsay family and their various friends and is separated into three parts, "The Window", "Time Passes", and "The Lighthouse". The first part of the story begins with the words of the youngest child who wants desperately to go to the lighthouse which is close to their summer house. His father, however, is a realist and informs him that the weather will not permit that. Mr. Ramsay is a philosopher and spends his entire life on intellectual pursuits. Throughout the novel, Mr. Ramsay's complete focus on these pursuits and his need for his own intelligence to establish his own worth and give meaning to life contrast Mrs. Ramsay who needs her family and friends for that. Another big character that is introduced during this book is an Asian painter named Lily who paints pictures of the family. Instead of using intellect or family, Lily relies on her paintings to preserve memories and give meaning to her life. The rest of the novel focuses mainly on these three characters and their thoughts and feelings. Mr. Ramsay continues to seek knowledge but is ever plagued by the knowledge that fame and reputation are fleeting and that the will eventually fade. Mrs. Ramsay continues to focus on the family and constantly has to reassure her husband of his intelligence when he doubts himself. Lily, despite Mrs. Ramsay's efforts, refuses to marry, thereby representing a new and evolving social order, one in which a woman is not defined by her husband.
By the final part in the book, many things have happened and even more has changed. Mrs. Ramsay and two of her children are dead, leaving the rest of the family incomplete. Mrs. Ramsay's death left the family desolate and lost, but it also led them to new understanding and brought the surviving members closer together. The story ends with Lily completing a painting of Mrs. Ramsay that she started at the beginning of the novel.


1) What establishes a persons worth? Is it their intelligence, their friends, or something else?

2) Woolf's novel presents the idea that their is no such thing as objective reality and that reality is merely a collection of subjective views. DO you think that this belief is correct?

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, is the only novel ever written by Plath. This novel is actually semi-autobiographical, being based off of Plath's own life, just with the names of characters changed from real life names. It tells the story of Esther Greenwood, a young woman who recently graduated from college who lands a summer internship at a high-end magazine in New York City. While most girls would be thrilled at going to NYC to intern for a prominent magazine, Esther feels the exact opposite. She feels sad, frightened, and the reader can see that she is showing signs of depression.

Esther does not understand what she is doing with her life anymore now that she is done with school. Her mother wanted her to learn shorthand, but she was against doing any of the stereotypical female jobs like stenography or even being a mother. In the middle of the novel, Esther has a flashback to when her boyfriend, Buddy, asks her to be his wife. She promptly responds, "I'm never going to get married" (93). She refuses to follow the stereotype, mostly because she is afraid of ever becoming pregnant – a fear caused by her depression.

As her mental state begins to worsen, her mother forcefully encourages her to try seeing a psychiatrist. The first psychiatrist Esther goes to is Dr. Gordon, whom Esther does not trust simply because he is a Good looking man; she feels he is not paying attention to her and her problems. Dr. Gordon quickly diagnoses her with a severe mental illness and wants her to go to the hospital. Esther refuses to ever go see Dr. Gordon again.

After a few half-hearted attempts at suicide, Esther decides that she really does not want to live anymore. She goes down into her cellar and swallows an excessive amount of sleeping pills that had been prescribed to her for insomnia. Someone quickly discovers her, saving Esther's life. Esther is then taken to a new female psychiatrist, Dr. Nolan.

Esther is able to spill out all of her fears to Dr. Nolan, from her distrust of males to her fear of pregnancy and motherhood. Her mental state quickly improves with the help of Dr. Nolan. For once in her life, Esther is not worrying about the future and things she cannot control, saying "I had hoped, at my departure, I would feel sure and knowledgeable about everything that lay ahead - after all, I had been 'analyzed.' Instead, all I could see were question marks" (243).

1. This book was written back in the early '60s, when women we often stereotyped to be housewives. As you can see, Esther greatly feared joining that stereotype. Do you believe women today are still not seen as equals to men? If so, are there any examples of this inequality?

2. If you knew someone who was clinically depressed like Esther, what would you do to help them? Do you think forcing Esther to see a psychiatrist was the right thing for her mother to do, or should she have let Esther choose to do this on her own?