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Longing for Home: A Treatise upon the Alienations and Benefits of Exile, as Exposed in Jane Eyre Jordan Todes, Samuel Chiu, Candice Suitor, Maegan Mendoza, Sahil Shete
The literal interpretation of the prompt is literally “Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic Edward Said has written that “Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” Yet Said has also said that exile can become “a potent, even enriching” experience. Select a novel, play, or epic in which a character experiences such a rift and becomes cut off from “home,” whether that home is the character’s birthplace, family, homeland, or other special place. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the character’s experience with exile is both alienating and enriching, and how this experience illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list below or one of comparable literary merit. Do not merely summarize the plot.” This prompt asks the writer to accomplish three things: Identify an exile from “home”. Analyze how the character’s exile augments and isolates said character. Show how the exile is integral to the novel.
But Jane Eyre is always loved because the novel is about how she’s a pampered poodle, right? • Only if you think that Jane Eyre was a news reporter. • This prompt is uniquely suited to Jane Eyre because Jane Eyre experiences exile on multiple occasions: • Mrs. Reed’s rejection of Jane Eyre as a scrawny wrench • Mrs. Temple’s marriage leads Jane Eyre to feel uncomfortable at the Lowood Institution. • The revelation of Bertha Mason, the haunt of the attic, forces Jane to listen to her conscious and flee from the perceived immorality of Mr. Rochester. • Jane’s refusal to serve as a missionary wife leads to a temporary metaphysical alienation from St. John.
Part the First: Heading to the Gate (Pun Intended) “It is not my house, sir; and Abbot says I have less right to be here than a servant... If I had anywhere else to go, I should be glad to leave [Gateshead]... I should indeed like to go to school” (Bronte 20-21). Post-Red Room punishment, Jane suddenly feels isolated from Gateshead. The things that used to please her, such as the tart, plate, book, and song, only succeed in deepening her sadness.
Is this moment significant, or is Jane just being a petulant child? Her strange change brings the apothecary, Mr. Lloyd, who tells Mrs. Reed that sending Jane to school would be a healthy change for Jane. Mrs. Reed agrees and months later sends Jane to the Lowood Institution where she starts a new chapter in her life, as the reader starts a new chapter in the book.
Lowood Institution: Where the poor, the downtrodden, the oppressed are sent to starve be educated! • “There was I, then, mounted aloft: I, who had said I could not bear the shame of standing on my natural feel in the middle of the room, was now exposed to general view on a pedestal infamy. What my sensations were, no language can describe” (Bronte 59-60)
But who cares? I’m staring at Mrs. Munoz right now, and she’s just yelling at me. • When Jane is punished for dropping her slate at Lowood, a period of alienation occurs • Jane feels as though everyone despises her and believes she will never be respected, but Helen scolds her, declaring that Jane attributes too much meaning to human love • Throughout the whole novel Jane is merely searching for love. This moment shows her initial neediness and how much she will develop over the course of the novel.
Thornfield Hall: Perfectly normal, except for the insane person who burns down the house “I found that he had ceased to notice me because I might pass hours in his presence and he would never once turn his eyes in my direction—because I saw all his attentions appropriated by a great lady, who scorned to touch me with the hem of her robes as she passed; who, if ever her dark and imperious eye fell on me by chance, would withdraw it instantly as from an object too mean to merit observation” (Bronte 174) Moment:Jane is watching Rochester flirt with the beautiful Blanche. Her love burns within her as she believes Rochester will marry Blanche.
Analysis of Thornfield Hall • At Thornfield, Jane finds herself in the midst of people who feel they are superior to her, causing her to feel alienated. • She watches them from her corner, as if in a completely different room; she is lonely. • However, being at Thornfield develops Jane’s character. She learns to be strong and ladylike. • She remains respectable even though she is in a lower class than the people she is surrounded by. • Her “exile” at Thornfield is alienating, being scorned by those who think themselves better than her. However, it is also enriching as she develops into a confident, classy lady.
Moor House: The obvious place to go when you’ve just rejected polygamy Enriching Quote: “The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” (Page 342) Even though she is in love with Mr. Rochester, she decides to leave Thornfield in order to escape the inequality she feels that she’ll have by being with Mr. Rochester as a mere mistress. She wants to become more independent and the only way to do so is by staying away from a place that will make her lower status noticeable. Her journey of exile leads her to the Moor House. Alienating Quote: “Perhaps you think I had forgotten Mr. Rochester, reader, amidst these changes of place and fortune. Not for a moment. His idea was still with me, because it was not a vapour sunshine could disperse, nor a sand-traced effigy storms could wash away; it was a name graven on a tablet, fated to last as long as the marble it inscribed.” (Page 433)
Citations 2010 AP Literature and Composition Free-Response Questions: www.apcentral.collegeboard.com The University of Iowa www.tumblr.com Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Bantam, 1981. Print www.xkcd.com