All people live by their own codes of conduct. Everyone, be they male or female, young or old, has their own sets of values, which they adhere to and which are unchanging even in the face of personal or societal pressures and conflicts to give them up. In Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Jane is tempted many times to acquiesce to others’ wishes and, thereby, give up her own moral standards and beliefs. Yet Jane remains steadfast in adhering to her personal code of conduct, namely to maintain feelings of high self-esteem, not to let herself be used and abused by others, and never to give up her religious convictions. Through many disappointments that she is faced with and with her constant struggle to gain independence and love, Jane never loses her self of self, nor does she give up her moral and spiritual values. Jane Eyre, from the very beginning of the novel, shows courage and self-confidence when she stands up to Mrs. Reed for wrongly accusing her to Mr. Brocklehurst of being a liar. Jane, a quiet, pensive girl, who until now took her aunt and cousins’ torment without saying a word, suddenly could no longer hold her tongue. She suddenly felt a need to tell her aunt that as much as she appreciated having her put a roof over her head and providing food for her, her existence in Gateshead was nothing less than abominable. She says that servants are treated better than she is, and that Mrs. Reed was not keeping her promise to her deceased husband to raise Jane as her own child. Mrs. Reed, unable to answer Jane’s accusations, leaves the room immediately, thus allowing Jane to bask in the glory of victory for the first time in her life. This episode …
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…she tells him of the Rivers family and, most notably, about St. John Rivers whom she refused to marry because of his lack of love or appreciation of her. Jane then marries Rochester realizing that he is who she wants. Jane has done a tremendous amount of soul searching while away from Thornfield and she now feels able to make the lifelong commitment of marriage as she has gained the moral, religious, and personal capabilities to differentiate between good and bad, right and wrong, in her many experiences throughout her life. Jane Eyre remains true to her own personal code of conduct throughout the novel. Her strength and courage can be an inspiration to readers no matter what the age, gender, or generation in which they live. The morals to which Jane adheres to are what make Jane Eyre a timeless classic to be enjoyed and learned by every individual.
Comparing the Use of Setting in The Shawl and The Portable Phonograph
Use of Setting in “The Shawl” and “The Portable Phonograph”
In literature, setting is often used to enhance or develop characters, provide realism, and create a mood or atmosphere for a story (Roberts 256). Two short stories, “The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick and Walter Van Tillburg Clark’s “The Portable Phonograph” explore victims of war in the vivid settings that the authors have created. Although both works are vague as to geographic setting and place in time, the authors’ detailed descriptions of the character’s surroundings envelop the reader and lend an air of authenticity to the tales (Kauvar 180). “The Shawl” and “The Portable Phonograph” differ in their treatment of symbolism and characterization but their ingenious use of setting to create a theme unites these two stories.
“The Shawl” and “The Portable Phonograph” both open with intense, haunting descriptions; Ozick shocks readers with her portrayal of “the Holocaust in searingly vivid sensory impressions” (Watson 892) and Clark dedicates his first three paragraphs to describing a desolate, war torn plain devoid of almost all life. Clark immediately creates a sense of a dangerous, foreboding world, describing a “sensation of torment” that “arose from the stillness of the earth air beneath the violence of the upper air” (Roberts 260). The reader is left with an impression, filled with detail, but moreover, overflowing with emotion.
“The Shawl” and “The Portable Phonograph” contain objects that are critical to the stories and to the mental states of the characters contained within. In the former story, the Rosa believes the shawl protects her baby from the horrors of the Holocaust, the scrap of cloth provides her with hope that the next generation wi…
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…rough their thoughts. The settings in these two stories act as more than simply a backdrop for a tale, they are used “to create meaning, just as painters include backgrounds and objects to render ideas” (Roberts 255).
Kauvar, Elaine M. Cynthia Ozick’s Fiction: Tradition and Invention.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
Magill, Frank N. ed. Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Vol. 2. Pasadena: Salem
Roberts, Edgar V. and Jacobs, Henry E. Literature: An Introduction to
Reading and Writing. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1998.
Sheehy, Gail. Spirit of Survival. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1986.
Stine, Jean C. ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 28. Detroit: Gale
Research Co., 1984.
Watson, Noelle, ed. Reference Guide to Short Fiction. Detroit: St. James Press, 1994.