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Explore the ways in which Jane Eyre and A Dol’l’s House find self-discovery

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1506
  • Category: Eyre

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Self discovery in ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘A Doll’s House’ can be interpreted in different ways. Self-discovery can mean a person finding out about their true self and the person within them after looking back on previous memories and as a result changing their actions or results. ‘Jane Eyre’ presents Jane’s struggle to first free herself from Aunt Reed and then later in the book to becoming a confident woman that is able to find love. A Doll’s House’ is presented as Nora first being shown as a hidden woman, who is her husband’s wife but she looks deep within herself towards the end of the book to establish that she wants more in life and she begins her journey of self discovery.

Although this shows the similarities between Jane and Nora, there are many differences as to how they go about their journey of self discovery. Jane wants to isolate herself to give her space to think about her actions, whereas, Nora wants to become more knowledgeable and meet new people in her quest of adapting to different situations. Jane Eyre’ opens with Jane being a quiet, shy girl who is scared of her aunt, Aunt Reed but by the end of the book becomes an independent woman who is capable of managing herself and adapting to different situations.

Chapter four is the first chapter of ‘Jane Eyre’ which highlights Jane’s journey of self-discovery. Jane shows the ability to stand up for herself and resist the views of her Aunt Reed. She shows that within her there is another person waiting to be unleashed. She takes out her aggression on Aunt Reed by saying “I will never come back to visit you when I am grown up” which illustrates Jane’s new found passion and drive.

This chapter shows the independence of Jane, wanting to stand up for herself as well as showing her trying to liberate herself by becoming free of Aunt Reed. Jane was being a harsh toned, straight faced individual as seen throughout the novel. Bronte uses ellipses, dashes and semi-colons to show Jane’s harshness. It shows the reality that Jane has come to terms with and that if she did not stand up for herself, then she would continue to be punished for small misdemeanours. Chapter twelve is responsible for showing Jane’s emotional strength.

Bronte captures Jane’s ability to question different situations as well as showing the irony that faces a woman. Jane questions why she has to act differently from other people and Bronte shows the feminist qualities that made her a world class author. This chapter symbolises Jane’s struggle for equality and independence. However, whilst trying to capture this equality and independence, Jane is obsessed with her love for Rochester as shown in chapter twenty-seven. Jane shows the religious views that she was previously taught to guide her as she seeks a way to express her love for Rochester.

It also shows the passion and determination as Bronte shows Jane wanting to “respect herself” just as woman wanted to be respected and treated as equals. Jane wants “principles” in her life and wants people to be able to answer the many questions she has within her. Bronte presents Jane as becoming very observant about the specific features of Rochester by the time of chapter thirty-four. This chapter shows Jane as wanting to become Rochester’s wife. This chapter shows Jane’s ability to contemplate between the negatives and positives of Rochester.

Jane wants to feel pain again to be relieved of her sins, which is ironic as this is how Aunt Reed punished her when she was younger. This shows that situations can come full circle and that you will feel the same as you did when you were younger. It shows Jane as being very educated although Jane wants to be “sheltered”, loved and protected. Chapter thirty-eight shows Jane as now being able to understand love. She finds her life completely fulfilled and she has got a sense of belonging. She claims to be closer to her husband, than any other woman to their husband “I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine”.

Bronte is capable to presenting Jane as being a quiet girl that is tortured regular by her own family, to becoming the head of her own family, who has passion, determination, independence and the emotional strength to achieve whatever she wanted to achieve. ‘A Doll’s House’ begins with Nora being her husband’s wife – quiet and seen as an object or trophy that is never to get involved in family, financial or political matters. However, this image of Nora changes dramatically by the end of the play as Nora is a self dependent woman that is driven by her thirst for knowledge and education.

The first act begins with Nora being her husband’s “little skylark” that is subjected to listen to Torvald’s every word and obey it as though she indebted to do so forever. However, by the end of the first act, Nora has shown another side to her. Ibsen presents her as being independent as she says “it was I who raised the money” and it shows the determination, pride and manipulation with Nora as she was capable to forging a signature to get some money to take her husband south to improve his health, during the time of her father’s death.

Nevertheless, Nora has not thought of the consequences of her actions of forging the signature and the debt could ruin the relationship between Nora and Torvald. She also has not thought of the fact that her husband is proud of himself and she does not think of society’s expectations that “a wife can’t borrow without her husband’s consent”. This illustrates Nora’s ability to handle finances as well as conduct herself in an orderly manner. It shows the conniving side of Nora.

Nora has made a journey of self discovery as she is able to gain some independence and intelligence as well as realising her role on the family as being the motherly figure, but also having the financial side to her. It does show Nora’s ability not to understand the situation that she is in as she feels that she has forged a signature for a greater cause and she does not understand the legal system. Ibsen shows Nora as being “influential” in act two. Ibsen shows Nora loving, caring and compassionate side as she plays with her children. Nora’s emotional strength and independence is shown as she is able to stand up to Krogstad.

She also starts to show some responsibility for forging the signature. However, Nora does show some ignorance as she admits to Krogstad that she forged the signature and says “I wrote papa’s name”. Ibsen is also able to show the fact that Nora is uneducated and contradicts herself as she first says that she has influence but then retracts her comments. She also believes that Torvald can save her. This act shows that Nora has grown in confidence and stature but she is still irresponsible and is showing ignorance. Nora’s self discovery changes yet again during this act as she is more aware of what she has done and she understands the law.

She is also able to accept the result of her actions and can understand the consequences she faces. She also comes to realisation that Torvald may not be able to save her and she wants to develop her moral compass. Nora begins her search for knowledge as she does not agree with the law and wants to find out why the law is written the way it is. Nora has another dramatic change in self discovery during act three. Ibsen creates Nora as being an unhappy character. She shows that Nora wants to become educated which mirrors many women’s thoughts during that time.

She wants to learn more about religion as Nora only knew “what Pastor Hansen taught me”. Nora also comes to the terms with that her relationship with Torvald was a failure as she does not love Torvald and that he is a “strange” man. She also understands the fact that Torvald treated her as a “little songbird, your doll”, which she no longer wanted to be. Ibsen shows women’s struggle against men and shows how Nora wants to try new experiences and situations for her. Both Jane and Nora sought freedom. They were both able to achieve it through different measures.

Jane’s self discovery was a struggle in the fact that she had no family, no background; she became a governess and fell in love with a rich man. Jane learned to become confident with herself and she was able to achieve emotional strength as well as being self dependent. Nora’s struggle was to get away from her family. She wanted to not be under the influence of her husband as she wanted to educated herself and learn more about herself and the world. She wanted to have political views and religious views. Jane and Nora managed a successful journey of self discovery and Bronte and Ibsen were able to do this through various means.

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