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‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte and ‘A kestrel for a knave’ by Barry Hines

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In this essay I will be comparing the following two novels. These novels are ‘A kestrel for a knave’ by Barry Hines and ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte. I will compare the different aspects between these two novels. These aspects are about the home life, school life (relationship with other children that are their own age, and also the treatment they get from other teachers).

Background and historical details:

‘Jane Eyre’ was published in the Victorian period when attitudes were very strict. The novel depicts a good woman capable of strong emotion and passion. ‘Jane Eyre’ was published in 1847. Charlotte wanted ignorant people to see the pain that she suffered in her life, for example her mother and sister’s deaths. Charlotte went to a school like Lowood, so she was writing from memories, rather than what she had learned from others.

As an early novel in Barry Hines career ‘a Kestrel for a knave’ contains material which is closely related to his early background in south Yorkshire. It was published in 1968.

Home life

In Billy Casper’s home life, Billy lives in Barnsley in a small house in a rundown area. The main industry is a coal mining. Billy has a job this job is doing paper rounds this is because he has to pay back his mum. In Billy’s house there are no curtains there is also no food in the house expect dried peas and half a bottle of vinegar on the shelves. There was no bread in the house “the bread bin was empty” this shows that bill’s family was poor. Other evidence showing that he is poor is that he shares his clothes with his brother, Jud “Jud parted Billy’s sweater and shirt and used the sweater for a vest” and also “the zip was broken and the material draped out” this shows that the jacket’s zip was broken.

Billy’s brother, Jud is a bully and an aggressive child, a violent person “he swung his fist under the blankets and thumped Billy in the kidneys”. Jud also picks on his own brother he takes the mick out of Billy’s intelligence. Jud kills bill’s hawk in the end, Jud does not appreciates what the hawk means to Billy. Billy’s mother neglects him and does not bring him up in the right way with manners the evidence that shows his mother hasn’t brought him up the right way is “haven’t you got a fag”, when Billy doesn’t even smoke. We are also told his mother is lazy and tells him to make his own tea.

Jane Eyre’s is the opposite of Billy’s home life. Jane lives in the south of England in Rochester, in a large mansion with a wealthy family, Jane is an orphan she lives with her aunty the benefactress Mrs Read who has three children, John, Eliza and Georgina. Jane is also excluded from any activities that they do. Mrs Read neglects and ignores Jane. When Jane reads a book John bullies Jane and when Mrs Read sees this she immediately takes John outside without hearing both sides of the story, she accuses Jane of hitting John. She pushes Jane cruelly by sending Jane to the red room.

The red room is where Mr Read last breathed when he was alive. Jane is sent there to be punished, to frighten her and bring back memories of Mr Read, so that she is sorry of what she has been accused of doing. John Read is a bully; he bullies Jane physically by hitting and throwing books at her he mentally bullies Jane by calling her abusive names. John calls Jane dependant as she relies on Mrs Read as an orphan. “He bullied and punished me not two or three times in a week nor once or twice a day but constantly.” Jane has no understanding of why she is bullied.

Billy’s relationship Jud is the same to Jane’s relationship with John Reed. Both of these people are cruel, abusive and physically violent. They are both unsympathetic to the main characters.

School Life

Billy’s school is a modern, strict, religious and comprehensive school. In Billy’s school they sing hymns and the boys are more misbehaved than the girls. Good treat teacher is Mr Farthing; Mr Farthing is the only person who takes interest in Billy’s home life. “That’s on the reason why McDowell’s always picking on me” this shows he is picked.

Jane’s school is an old fashioned boarding school for girls. It is far stricter “silence! To your seats.” The school is also disciplined “Disciplined prevailed” In Jane’s school there was poor health and living conditions. Jane’s school is a religious school as they read their prayers, sing hymns and read the bible; the school is lifeless and dull. The school has longer hours and there is no freedom to express the student’s individuality. The teacher that treats Jane in a good way is Miss Temple, this teacher comforts her when Jane is humiliates her by saying it was an accident “Don’t be afraid, Jane, I saw it was an accident, you shall not be punished

Both ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Billy Casper’ have a positive relationship with one teacher they are

> Jane Eyre and Miss Temple

> Billy Casper and Mr Farthing

Mr Farthing empathises with the boys who have been caned by Mr Gryce.

Miss Temple stands up to Mr Brocklehurst-the cruel clergyman who is in charged of Lowood. She defends the girls against his strict regime. She is not afraid to defend the children when she feels he is inflicting too much unnecessary suffering.

Relationship with same age group

Billy does not get along with students his own age, for example McDowell who bullies him. McDowell takes the mick out of Billy’s mother he deliberately winds Billy up. Mr Farthing takes Billy’s side, he teaches McDowell in one of his lessons. The only thing that he can talk to is kes (a trained bird).

Jane gets along with only one person her own age; Helen Burns is a close friend to Jane, she smiles at Jane as sign of warmth. Helen is kind and compassionate, she is the only one who understands Jane, and she talks and listens to Jane so that Jane can get her problems off her chest. She also sometimes takes food for Jane, “I started up again, Helen Burns was near me, the fading fires just showed her coming up the along, vacant room, she brought my coffee and bread” Helen also restores Jane’s confidence.

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