Each of us carries within us the seed of a unique plant. When circumstances conspire to caringly nourish that seed in the manner most appropriate to its true nature– circumstances which, sadly, are as rare as they are fortunate–the germ of our original selves is likely to flourish. When, however, this tender seed receives attention which is insufficient or antithetical to its essential inclination, growth is inevitably blighted in some way. Weaker or more sensitive seedlings may wither outright; others will be irreparably stunted. Stronger plants may yet grow to imposing heights, but they will be bent and twisted at the places where their needs were unmet, and may well feel eternally compelled to somehow loosen the knot of those deforming deprivations, so as to come closer to their originally intended shapes: Jane Eyre and Rochester are two such plants; driven by an indomitable will to find and follow their essential selves, they discover in each other a vital key to the realization of that end.
As every conscientious parent knows, a child needs both roots–love and security–and wings–belief in, and encouragement of, his autonomy–in order to mature. While gifted with the latter–the drive for self-realization previously mentioned–Jane and Rochester have been severely deprived of the foundation of the former. They are both outsiders. The identities they have succeeded in forging for themselves thus have a quality of rare integrity, for they primarily have come from within, not from the outer prompting to please and emulate others. At the same time, these characters lack the sense of security and connectedness which is the vital prop of such gifts. When the tw…
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…r love: like two trees in a dense, dark forest, bending, twisting and inter-twining to reach an aperture of warm, bright sunlight, more beautiful to my mind than their unblemished brothers.
Works Cited and Consulted
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Penguin, 1985.
Gordon, Lyndall. Charlotte Bronte: A Passionate Life. New York: Norton, 1994.
Michie, Helena. The Flesh Made Word: Female Figures and Women’s Bodies. New York: Oxford UP, 1987.
Poovey, Mary. “Speaking of the Body: Mid-Victorian Constructions of Female Desire.” Jacobus, Keller, and Shuttleworth 24-46.
Rich, Adrienne. “Jane Eyre: The Temptations of a Motherless Woman.” Gates 142-55.
Roy, Parama. “Unaccommodated Woman and the Poetics of Property in Jane Eyre.” Studies in English Literature 29 (1989): 713-27.
Sullivan, Sheila. Studying the Brontes. Longman: York, 1986.
Essay on Voltaire’s Candide: The Accuracy of Candide
Voltaire is correct in Candide, where he argues that life on earth is hell in many ways. Voltaire accurately describes how selfish people often are and how they inflict misery on others as a result. Voltaire also describes accurately common forms of cruelty in society. Although he may be mistaken that all wars are equally senseless and avoidable, Voltaire is correct in showing that war inevitably produces atrocities, which makes for hell on earth.
In support of these statements, let’s examine Voltaire’s accurate description of human selfishness. An example would be the behavior of the sailor who Pangloss and Candide met on their voyage to Lisbon. This sailor was rescued from drowning by Jacques the Anabaptist. Yet when Jacques fell into the sea himself, the sailor refused to risk his own life to save him. As a result of this selfishness, Jacques died. Later on, when the sailor reached shore, he ignored the sufferings of people horribly injured by a recent earthquake. Instead the sailor took money from them in order to get drunk and hire a prostitute. This sailor was wholly self-centered and uncaring about anyone else and by not helping anybody out he in effect inflicted misery on them. When the terrorists destroyed the World Trade Centers, and many police and firemen were killed, many people received money for relatives that did not die, and used the money for gambling, booze and whores. Human nature in this regard has not changed since the book was written. This being so, Voltaire’s description of how human selfishness can often turn life on earth into a hell is accurate.
Voltaire’s depiction of how common cruelty is in society is also well supported. For example, Voltaire describes how Candide en…
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… again as an example, there were many instances of people who risked their own lives to save others and as a result received citations and promotions as well as the admiration of their family and friends. This objection to my argument, however, does not take an important thrust of Candide into account. That is, that Voltaire felt that he had to use exaggeration and one-sided presentation to make sure his audience did not refuse to contemplate deeply just how much cruelty and selfishness exists at all times all around them and how much people suffer because of that.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Frautschi, R.L. Barron’s Simplified Approach to Voltaire: Candide. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1998.
Lowers, James K, ed. “Cliff Notes on Voltaire’s Candide”. Lincoln: Cliff Notes, Inc. 1995.
Voltaire. Candide. New York: Viking Publishers, 1976.