english literature

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Relationship Between Men And Women English Literature Essay

Charlotte Bronte was born on the 21st of April, 1816. She had 4 other sisters, namely Maria, Elizabeth, Emily and Anne, and a brother named Branwell. Both Anne and Emily are, just as Charlotte, known for their poems and novels. Their father was a curate of Haworth. Charlotte had a lot of grief to deal with as a child – her mother died when she was a mere 5 years old; Maria and Elizabeth both died of tuberculosis at their school, Cowan Bridge. The conditions at Cowan Bridge were far from exemplary and Charlotte and Emily were also withdrawn from the school. As a cause of these tragic events, Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell were taught at home. This is when the writing of their stories started – they explored their creativity together.

In her adult life, Charlotte became a teacher and a private governess. She fell in love with a teacher at the school she taught. The Bronte family didn’t have much money, and the Bronte sisters Charlotte, Anne and Emily decided to write a book of poems. Shortly after, Charlotte wrote her instantly famous book Jane Eyre. The book contains many parallels with Charlotte’s private life, which will be discussed later on. However, more destruction awaited Charlotte – her brother Branwell died, and shortly after, Emily and Anne died as well. Jane married at 38, but in 1855 she died due to pregnancy complications.

What’s the historic background of the time in which the author lived?  change into historic background + biography?

Charlotte Bronte was born in 1816. She, her four sisters - Maria, Elizabeth, Emily and Anne – and her brother Branwell were raised by their aunt but this supervision was hardly sufficient.

Bronte grew up in a time when governessing was the only employment for middle-class women, and due to a mental breakdown she had to resign her position as a governess. However, because the family needed money she took on two other positions as a governess. After this, she wanted to open her own school but this idea failed. Instead, she started writing. When Charlotte sent a sample of poetry to Robert Southey, he responded that “literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be.” Bronte disregarded this advice.

What was the reason for the writer to write this book/these books?

Bronte wanted to publish a collection of poems with her two sisters Anne and Emily. They published these poems under pseudonyms (Curror, Acton and Ellis Bell) because writing wasn’t supposed to be something for women. It wasn’t outstandingly successful but nevertheless the sisters continued writing. Bronte didn’t have a particularly joyful life, having to live through the deaths of her mother, two sisters and her brother Branwell, and after that the passing away of her two remaining sisters; working as a governess as the only means of earning money, being raised by a not-so-caring aunt and going to Cowan Bridge school (Lowood School in Jane Eyre shows remarkable resemblances…).

Bronte started writing after having had positions as a governess and trying to start her own school. In her books she could let go of her grief and give her opinion on social matters such as independence for women.

What is the writer’s style of writing?

Bronte uses very complex sentences to portray what is happening at a specific moment and how the characters are feeling. It seems as though simplifying the language for the sake of the reader isn’t an option, on the contrary – it seems the more detailed and elaborate the language, the better. An example for this is found on the first page, in the following passage: “I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.”

Instead Bronte could have said that Jane Eyre didn’t like walks on cold afternoon because her fingers and toes would be frozen, and she didn’t like coming home to a house where she felt inferior. Through this more complex writing, Bronte shows Jane’s intelligence and at the same time, the reader feels for Jane because she’s “humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed”. Another way of pulling the reader into the story, is by addressing us directly, for example in the sentence “Reader, I married him.” As the audience, one feels even more close to Jane, because when she speaks to us, it is as if we know her.

Who are the writer’s contemporaries?

Charlotte Bronte started writing under a masculine pseudonym because female authors weren’t tolerated in the time she wrote her novels. However, her publisher asked her to visit London on a more frequent basis - here she revealed her real identity and Bronte became friends with other writers such as Harriet Martineau (On Female Education) and Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South), and made herself familiar with the works of William Thackeray and G.H. Lewes.

What’s a characteristic fragment of this book and can one compare this to other writers?

What’s the writer’s view upon society and how does that translate into the book?

One item that strongly comes forward in Charlotte Bronte’s book Jane Eyre is the view upon women. In the 19th century, women are greatly underestimated, although some changes are about to happen. In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte portrayed a strong female character who knows her own identity and is not afraid to stand up for herself. Jane Eyre had a hard childhood but throughout the book we learn that she knows that she is her own person, and one who makes her own decision. She doesn’t want to marry someone just because a proposal is laid upon her – she wants to be able to provide for herself before she lets herself be with someone else. This shows Jane’s independence, in a time where this wasn’t all too apparent. Women didn’t have many rights, and with this book Charlotte Bronte shows her discontent with the situation. Women should be able to make their own decisions, strive for personal (independently achieved) financial stability and voice their own opinion (this especially shows in the scenes in which Jane speaks to Mr Rochester, who is in every way a man “above her standard” but he appreciates and values Jane’s opinions and therefore allows her to be her own person).

Does the writer profess criticism upon his/her society?

Charlotte Bronte doesn’t openly profess criticism upon the society in which she grew up, but as is to be read above, certain items stirred Bronte’s discontent and this appears as a theme in her books.

Which life experiences/circumstances influenced the author’s writing?

There are certain life experiences that influenced Bronte’s writing, or rather the events that take place and the general feel of the books. Firstly, Bronte lets Jane Eyre attend Lowood School, where her friend Helen Burns dies of tuberculosis. This is a similar situation Bronte had to live through – the death resembles that of her sisters at Cowan Bridge. Mr Brocklehurst, the headmaster is also based on a real person, and although Lowood School is fictional, Bronte used her experiences at Cowan Bridge as a means of revenge because of the way she was treated there. We also read that Jane Eyre works as a governess (one one the few means to earn money in that time as a woman), a profession that Bronte herself occupied (with discontent).

What influence do these books project upon contemporary society?

J.R.R. TOLKIEN

~ The Lord of the Rings

What’s the historic background of the time in which the author lived?

Tolkien was born in 1892 on the 3rd of January in South Africa, but he and his family moved to Birmingham, England when he was three years old. He grew up in a rather peaceful environment and was a devout Catholic from the moment his mother turned to Catholicism. However, when he was in his twenties, World War I broke out. Many of his friends joined up immediately, but Tolkien was working on getting his first-class degree in Oxford. Eventually he was sent on active duty on the Western Front but he returned after four months due to an infection and he had to be hospitalized. A quiet period followed, in which Tolkien became a university professor, and in 1937 he published his first book, The Hobbit. Soon after, World War II broke out but there is not much mentioned about Tolkien in this period. However, in 1954-55 he published his most well-known book The Lord of the Rings. He retired in 1959 and lived a quiet life with his wife. He passed away in 1972. Tolkien lived in a time of both peace and war – the latter of which, ánd the effects of the Industrial Revolution influenced this author’s writing greatly.

What was the reason for the writer to write this book/these books?

Many authors write a book with one single goal: to publish their book and for that book to be famous. Tolkien wasn’t one of them. In his tales, it is clearly visible that he wrote them, not for the commercial purpose, but mainly for himself – because for him a story really exists and needs to be told. This shows mostly in the fact that, for example, The Lord of the Rings contains many a scene that don’t contribute anything to story but are mainly there because it happened in Tolkien’s mind. Therefore, such a scene had to stay. Another fact that shows Tolkien didn’t write the LOTR for a bigger audience, is that he wrote LOTR as 1 book of over a thousand pages. In that time paper was costly and in short supply so it had to be published in three different parts. Tolkien was strongly opposed to the story being published as a trilogy, because for him it was one story.

What is the writer’s writing style/technique?

Tolkien wasn’t a professional writer – he was greatly interested in languages and studied them, and he became a professor of Anglo-Saxon. As I mentioned before, he wrote his stories mainly for himself and that shows in his writing. His writing style makes his books not too easy to read.

Tolkien uses page-long descriptions, whereas other authors give a brief description of something and then move on. Because of this, it is hard to stay “in the story” – as a reader, you can lose the storyline. Additionally, instead of using flashbacks, Tolkien does something else. For example in the Two Towers, there are two separate storylines. The book starts at one point in the story and follows Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, but halfway through the book, the reader goes as it were back in time and from the same point in the story, we now follow two different characters.

Another fact that makes Tolkien’s writing harder to understand, is his use of his own languages. Tolkien was passionate for languages and loved creating his own languages, which shows in the LOTR though for example the elvish language. The names he also made up himself, most of them with an additional meaning behind them: for example Éowyn and Éomer – Eo meaning horse.

Who are the writer’s contemporaries?

Tolkien’s contemporaries were Robert E. Howard, an American writer of fantasy and adventure; H.G. Wells, a British science fiction author; Edgar Rice Burroughs with his book about Tarzan and some say H.P. Lovecraft, an American horror, fantasy and SF author.

What’s a characteristic fragment of this book and can one compare this to other writers?

What’s the writer’s view upon society and how does that translate into the book?

Writes about war  war mechanization/horse fought wars

Ruthlessness

Good/evil

Does the writer profess criticism upon his society?

Which life experiences/circumstances influenced the author’s writing?

WWI

Industrial Revolution

Edith  Beren/Luthien

What influence do these books project upon contemporary society?


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