Discuss the thematic significance of social status in any two ...
Discuss the thematic significance of social status in any two novels Kyle Doig Response I would look at the contrast in social class between the 2 main characters in both novels, Jane Eyre and Rebecca, and the problems that this contrast creates.
Jane Eyre Jane struggles to find social equality all throughout the novel, this struggle was first introduced to Jane whilst she stayed at Gateshead. At Gateshead, Jane learns about the power of economic and social status and how people can treat others differently, based on their social class. If they did not love me, in fact, as little did I love them Janes struggle to commit to Mr Rochester whilst still being unequal to him, socially, originated whilst staying with her cousins and Aunt at Gateshead as she is mistreated and neglected by those
of a higher class than her. Rebecca This is similar to Rebecca, where, in the beginning, the narrator is working as an assistant to the unpleasant Mrs Van Hopper. Although the narrator is not as neglected as Jane was, there is still a clear difference in class and social status between the narrator and Mrs Van Hopper, the narrator tells Maxim de Winter: Shes not really a friend Shes a companion Similarly to Rebecca, the narrators difficulties to adapt or accept changes in her social class stem from her previous experiences.
The narrator has always lived as an inferior partner to Mrs Van Hopper, leading her tolive the same with Maxim, at first. Jane and Mr Rochester Throughout the novel, Jane struggles to achieve equality amongst the male characters. Mr Rochester, St John Rivers and Mr Brocklehurst all try to keep Jane in a submissive position at some point in the novel. This angers and frustrates Jane as they try to keep her in a position where she is unable to express her own thoughts
and feelings. Jane, unlike most other female characters in the novel, does not accept that she has a set social standing, due to the strict class structures of the time. Jane undoubtable loves Mr Rochester, but cannot commit to marry him if they cannot do so as equals. Jane makes the decision to leave Mr Rochester because of this: if God gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is for me to leave you Jane feels that because she is not as wealthy as Mr Rochester and does not have as much social stature, he would not love her as much
as she loves him. Making it difficult for Jane to stay with him because of the social class norms that were in place at the time. This is why Jane leaves Rochester as she does not want to give up her own integrity or pride to be with Rochester, despite how much she loves him. Rebecca Unlike Jane, who feels that she should have more social standing throughout the novel, the Narrator in Rebecca has a different view on her position, in her relationship with Maxim. Throughout this novel, we can see that the narrator feels
intimidated by Maxim de Winter, because of his high social status and class. She originally feels inferior to Maxim, the same we she felt around Mrs Van Hopper. Rather than having the viewpoint of Jane, that she should be treated and valued the same as her partner, the Narrator feels that she is of a lower class and status which prevents her from being comfortable around Maxim and in Manderley. I was like a little scrubby schoolboy with a passion for a sixthform prefect, and he kinder, and far more inaccessible. The narrator feels that she cannot compare to Maxim as if they are on different levels, despite the care and affection Maxim shows her
when the first meet. She does not understand why or how Maxim could be attracted or feel any passion towards herself because of their differences I class, this is similar to Jane when she leaves Rochester and says that he does not love her as much as he could because of her little wealth. Mr . And Mrs. De Winters Marriage Struggle For the first part of their marriage, Maxim and the narrator have the unequal relationship of a parent and child. Maxim remains treats his wife with patronizing consideration and striving to
maintain her innocence. When the narrator arrives at Manderley, she feels inadequate as she feels that she is constantly compared to how Rebecca was. After the truth about Rebecca's death is revealed, the narrator loses her innocence that is apparent through the whole novel, but also loses her insecurity and fears about Maxim's love for Rebecca. Grow up After losing her insecurities, the narrator can finally become a part of a mature relationship with her husband. Although Maxim regrets the loss of her innocence, he knows that it
allows her to surpass her status as a child in the relationship and can finally see herself as his wife and his equal. This allows the Narrator to find herself in the novel and finally see herself as an equal to other characters, rather than just a companion. Jane and Rochester After leaving Rochester, Jane finds herself living with her cousin, St John Rivers and eventually receives a large inheritance from her late uncle of 20,000.After receiving her inheritance, Jane refuses St Johns offer of marriage and leaves to return to Thornfield to be with Rochester as she can now marry him as his equal.
Similarly to Rebecca, it takes a significant evet (the inheritance in Jane Eyre and the acknowledgement of Rebeccas death in Rebecca) for Jane to finally see herself to be of the same social standing as Mr. Rochester. Jane returns to find Rochester severely disabled, however, she is delighted to see him again and eventually marry him: but I cannot be so blest, after all my misery. It is a dream. Jane stays with Rochester and continue to have a happy and loving marriage. Although Jane does seem to tackle the social inequalities that are
apparent throughout the novel, she is only able to return and marry as an equal to Mr Rochester once she has a large sum of money, perhaps showing that despite the challenges that Jane faced, there is no real change in the social inequality of classes, Jane just managed to overcome the differences. Conclusion In both novels, we can see clear differences between the female characters and the male characters, in terms of social class. This creates many challenges for the couples that the female protagonists, at first, feel they cannot overcome. Although both female characters do
overcome these social barriers, it takes significant events for this to happen. The social class structure is shown more extremely in Jane Eyre as Jane is severely mistreated at the beginning of the novel. Although, the Narrator in Rebecca is more uncomfortable with her change in social class and it was up to her to understand that she is Maxims equal. The social class division creates issues for both sets of couples, however, in both novels they are able to overcome these issues, showing that the strict lines between the social class structures could over-lap.
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