Lack of Mother and Reunion in Victorian Times
LACK OF MOTHER AND METAPHORS OF REUNION IN OLIVER TWIST AND JANE EYRE The aim of this paper is to discuss the psychological effects of being motherless and orphanhood and metaphors of reunion under social class distinction observation on the characters of two well known Victorian novels; Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist.Orphanhood means having no parents but in Victorian society this term also refers to “one who has deprived of only one parent” as Laura Peters states.As a result of this, motherlessness and orphanhood were considered the same in the Victorian Era.
To write a life, in the Victorian period , is to write the story of the loss of mother” says Caroline Dever. In other words, Victorian fiction mostly tells us the piteous stories of little motherless,orphan children who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. The importance of family and blood relations are significant aspects of Victorian Era. So these little orphans should have defend themselves against disadvantages of being alone in this material world, also they had to get over their psychological traumas mostly by themselves.
According to Dever, mother is the symbol of the unity,safety and order in a child’s life. Within the death of mother, the hero/heroine finds himself in a very dangerous , chaotic situation. In addition to that, the female protagonist has to face with erotic danger. Mostly in Victorian novels, maternal lossis used a path to set the young protoganist free to construct selfhood independently of parental constraint. The lack of parents leads the protagonist to start his quest in a disadvantaged position and he finds his inner strength to assert his personality.
Orphans are in search of identity in social, psychological and personal dimensions. Lacan’s “mirror phase” is the very first step of being a person. When a baby first sees himself on the mirror, at first he tries to control and play it. When the baby understands that this is a reflection,he realizes that he is not a part ofmother, on the contrary, he has another personality. Until now,the baby thinks himself like a body part of his mother. With the mirror stage, he sees himself as a whole being and this realizationis very important for his identification.
On the other hand,this realization creates alienation. Understanding her mother is a seperate object makes him realise that this object is not under his control. Starting from now,he searches identificatory images to fill this lack,such as representations,doubles and other. In order to understand and achieve the main goals of Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist, we should have a glance at Charles Dicken’s and Charlotte Bronte’s early lives. Charlotte Bronte was born in 1816, the third daughter of the Rev. Patrick Bronte and his wife Maria.
Her brother Patrick Branwell was born in 1817, and her sisters Emily and Anne in 1818 and 1820. In 1820, too, the Bronte family moved to Haworth, Mrs. Bronte dying the following year. In 1824 the four eldest Bronte daughters were enrolled as pupils at the Clergy Daughter’s School at Cowan Bridge. The following year Maria and Elizabeth, the two eldest daughters, became ill, left the school and died: Charlotte and Emily, understandably, were brought home. In 1826 Mr. Bronte brought home a box of wooden soldiers for Branwell to play with.
Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, and Ann, playing with the soldiers, conceived of and began to write in great detail about an imaginary world which they called Angria. In 1831 Charlotte became a pupil at the school at Roe Head, but she left school the following year to teach her sisters at home. She returned returns to Roe Head School in 1835 as a governess: for a time her sister Emily attended the same school as a pupil, but became homesick and returned to Haworth. Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens. John Dickens was a clerk in the Naval Pay Office.
He had a poor head for finances, and in 1824 found himself imprisoned for debt. His wife and children, with the exception of Charles, who was put to work at Warren’s Blacking factory, joined him in the Marshalsea Prison. When the family finances were put at least partly to rights and his father was released, the twelve-year-old Dickens, already scarred psychologically by the experience, was further wounded by his mother’s insistence that he continue to work at the factory. His father, however, rescued him from that fate, and between 1824 and 1827 Dickens was a day pupil at a school in London.
At fifteen, he found employment as an office boy at an attorney’s, while he studied shorthand at night. His brief stint at the Blacking Factory haunted him all of his life — he spoke of it only to his wife and to his closest friend, John Foster— but the dark secret became a source both of creative energy and of the preoccupation with the themes of alienation and betrayal which would emerge, most notably, in David Copperfield and in Great Expectations. Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist both grew up as orphans. They both struggled with poverty.
Growing up in misery, because they were lower class, both Jane and Oliver did what they needed to do to survive. Oliver joined the pick-pocketers to earn money to live. Jane went through school and applied herself, so she would not end up unhappy and in poverty. Jane and Oliver had similar obstacles while trying to basically survive. Both Jane and Oliver, as children, were lower class. The plot of Jane Eyre follows the form of a Bildungsroman, which tells the story of a child’s maturation and focuses on the emotions and experiences that accompany and incite his or her growth to adulthood.
In Jane Eyre, there are five distinct stages of development, each linked to a particular place: Jane’s childhood at Gateshead, her education at the Lowood School, her time as Adele’s governess at Thornfield, her time with the Rivers family at Morton and at Moor House, and her reunion with and marriage to Rochester at Ferndean.From these experiences, Jane becomes the mature woman who narrates the novel retrospectively Jane has no real parents and family, but only her dead uncle’s wife and her cousins. Jane’s childhood focuses on who she is and where she belongs to.
She always looks for someone to identify herself because she faces the world with the “primal “lack” The psychologist Carl Jung was interested in the “collective unconscious” or the primordial images and ideas that reside in every human being’s psyche. often appearing in the forms of dreams,visions and fantasies , these images provoke strong emotions that are beyond the explanation of reason. In Jane Eyre, the bounds of reality continually expand, so that dreams and visions have as much validity as a reason,providing access to the inner recesses of Jane’s and Rochester’s psyches.
Their relationship also has a supernatural component. Throughout the novel, Jane is described as a “fairy”. Sitting in the red-room, she labels herself a “tiny phantom,half fairy,half imp”. As a fairy, Jane identifies herself as a special,magical creature. Her dreams have a prophetic character, suggesting their almost supernatural ability to predict future. In a dream foreshadowing the direction of her relationship with Rochester, she is “tossed on a buoyant but unquiet sea”. Jane’s dream warns her that their relationship will be rocky, bringing chaos and passion to her life.
Not only Jane is a mythical creature, but the narrative she creates also has a mythic element, mixing realism and fantasy. We see the first instance of this as Jane sits nervously in the red-room and imagines a gleam of light shining on the wall; for her,this indicates a vision “from another world” As Jane’s departure from Gateshead was marked by her pseudo-supernatural experience in the red-room, her movement away from Lowood also has a paranormal component. Meditatingupon the best means for discovering anew job, Jane is visited by a “kind fairy” who offers her a solution.
This psychic counsellor gives her very spesific advice: Place an advertisement in the local newspaper, with answers addressed to J. E. , and do it immediately. The fairy’s plan works, and Jane soon discovers the job at Thornfield. As a gypsy woman, Rochester aligned himself with mystical knowledge. During his telling of her fortune, Rochester seems to have peered directly into Jane’s heart, leaning her deep into a dram-state she likens to “a web of mystification”. He magically weaves a web around Jane with words, and appears to have watched every movement of her heart, like an “unseen spirit”.
During this scene, he wears a red cloak, showing that he has taken over the position of Red Riding Hood that Jane held earlier. The position he gives Mason also has mystical powers, giving Mason the strength he lacks for an hour or so, hinting at Rochester’s mysterious possibly supernatural powers. In emphasizing the uniqueness of Jane and Rocester’s love, Bronte gives their meetings a mythical feel, so that they are depicted as archetypes of true lovers. Her association of Rochesters’s horde and dog with the Gytrash places their initial meeting in an almost fairytale-like setting.
Later, Rochesters reveals that at this initial meeting, he thought Jane was a fairy who had bewitched his horse. The lovers’ reunion at the end of the novel also has a psychic component. As she is about to accept St. John’s wishes, Jane experiences a sensation as “ sharp, as strange , as shocking” as an electric shock. Then she heards Rochester’s voice calling her name. The voice comes from nowhere,speaking “in pain and woe,wildly,urgently”. So powerful is this voice that Jane cries, “I am coming” and runs out of the door into the garden, but she discovers no sign of Rochester.
She rejects the notion that this is the evilish voice of the witchcraft, but feels that it comes from benevolent nature, not a miracle , but nature’s best effort to help her, as if the forces of nature are assisting this very special relationship. She introduces the ideal of a telepathic bond between the lovers. This psychic sympathy leads Jane to hear Rochester’s frantic call for her,and for Rochester to pick her response out of the wind. In fact, he even correctly intuits that her response came fromsome mountainous place.
Through the novel’s supernatural elements, Jane and Rochester become archetypes of ideal lovers, supporting Jane’s exorbitant claim that noone “was ever nearer to her mate than I am”. These mythic elements transforms their relationship from ordinary to extraordinary. The ending of Jane Eyre is perhaps the most obvious “happy” ending of the books in Victorian Era. The ending, which is like a beginning when Rochester and Jane are reunited at the house at Ferndean , details the manifold ways in which Jane and Mr. Rochester’s lives and souls evolve and change after their reunion, through their own work and by the hand of God.
They mature as individuals, but also grow exceptionally close as a couple, coming to work together with “perfect concord” (Bronte, 384. ) As the novel concludes, miracles are worked, love and sight are restored, a child is born and a new haven of domestic bliss is established in Jane and Rochester’s home. Emerging as an ideal Victorian companion, wife and mother, Jane stands as the perfect woman that Bertha, the mad woman in the attic and Mr. Rochester’s first wife, could never be. She and Rochester establish the domestic bliss that could not found with Bertha, and come to prize it above all else but God.
The end of Jane Eyre starts with a beginning: Jane, who calls Rochester “master,” and Rochester, who calls Jane “darling,” come together once more, and this time for good. Seeing him for the first time in years, Jane is in “rapture” (367), although she initially keeps her presence concealed from Rochester. When she finally presents herself to Rochester, the couple is together once more, It is an ideal reunion. With her return, Rochester’s life is instantly changed: Rochester’s heart renewed, the couple goes on to define themselves a new as companions, and then lovers.
Jane Eyre is critical of Victorian England’s strict social hierarchy. Bronte’s exploration of the complicated social position of governesses is perhaps the novel’s most important treatment of this theme. Like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Jane is a figure of ambiguous class standing and, consequently, a source of extreme tension for the characters around her. Jane’s manners, sophistication, and education are those of an aristocrat, because Victorian governesses, who tutored children in etiquette as well as academics, were expected to possess the “culture” of the aristocracy.
Yet, as paid employees, they were more or less treated as servants; thus, Jane remains penniless and powerless while at Thornfield. Jane’s understanding of the double standard crystallizes when she becomes aware of her feelings for Rochester; she is his intellectual, but not his social, equal. Even before the crisis surrounding Bertha Mason, Jane is hesitant to marry Rochester because she senses that she would feel indebted to him for “condescending” to marry her. Jane’s distress, which appears most strongly in Chapter 17, seems to be Bronte’s critique of Victorian class attitudes.
Jane herself speaks out against class prejudice at certain moments in the book. For example, in Chapter 23 she asks Rochester: “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! —I have as much soul as you—and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. ” However, it is also important to note that nowhere in Jane Eyre are society’s boundaries bent.
Ultimately, Jane is only able to marry Rochester as his equal because she has almost magically come into her own inheritance from her uncle. Jane struggles continually to achieve equality and to overcome oppression. In addition to class hierarchy, she must fight against patriarchal domination—against those who believe women to be inferior to men and try to treat them as such. Three central male figures threaten her desire for equality and dignity: Mr. Brocklehurst, Edward Rochester, and St. John Rivers. All three are misogynistic on some level.
Each tries to keep Jane in a submissive position, where she is unable to express her own thoughts and feelings. In her quest for independence and self-knowledge, Jane must escape Brocklehurst, reject St. John, and come to Rochester only after ensuring that they may marry as equals. This last condition is met once Jane proves herself able to function, through the time she spends at Moor House, in a community and in a family. She will not depend solely on Rochester for love and she can be financially independent. Furthermore, Rochester is blind at the novel’s end and thus dependent upon Jane to be his “prop and guide. In Chapter 12, Jane articulates what was for her time a radically feminist philosophy: Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.
It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex. Dickens sets Oliver Twist in early 19th-century England, a time when long-held ideas and beliefs came under serious scrutiny. Profound changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, religious uncertainty, scientific advancement, and political and social upheaval caused many Victorians to reexamine many aspects of their society and culture. Industrialization drove many farmworkers into the cities, where poor labor conditions and inadequate housing condemned most of them to poverty.
The unprecedented increase in urban population fostered new and overwhelming problems of sanitation, overcrowding, poverty, disease, and crime in the huge slums occupied by impoverished workers, the unemployed, and the unfortunate. London slums bred the sort of crime Dickens portrays in Oliver Twist. The novel is set against the background of the New Poor Law of 1834, which established a system of workhouses for those who, because of poverty, sickness, mental disorder, or age, could not provide for themselves.
Young Oliver Twist, an orphan, spends his first nine years in a “baby farm,” a workhouse for children in which only the hardiest survive. When Oliver goes to London, he innocently falls in with a gang of youthful thieves and pickpockets headed by a vile criminal named Fagin. Dickens renders a powerful and generally realistic portrait of this criminal underworld, with all its sordidness and sin. He later contrasts the squalor and cruelty of the workhouse and the city slums with the peace and love Oliver finds in the country at the Maylies’ home.
Oliver Twist The novel’s protagonist is an orphan born in a workhouse, and Dickens uses his situation to criticize public policy toward the poor in 1830s England. Oliver is between nine and twelve years old when the main action of the novel occurs. Though treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, he is a pious, innocent child, and his charms draw the attention of several wealthy benefactors. His true identity is the central mystery of the novel As the child hero of a melodramatic novel of social protest, Oliver Twist is meant to appeal more to our sentiments than to our literary sensibilities.
On many levels, Oliver is not a believable character, because although he is raised in corrupt surroundings, his purity and virtue are absolute. Throughout the novel, Dickens uses Oliver’s character to challenge the Victorian idea that paupers and criminals are already evil at birth, arguing instead that a corrupt environment is the source of vice. At the same time, Oliver’s incorruptibility undermines some of Dickens’s assertions. Oliver is shocked and horrified when he sees the Artful Dodger and Charley Bates pick a stranger’s pocket and again when he is forced to participate in a burglary.
Oliver’s moral scruples about the sanctity of property seem inborn in him, just as Dickens’s opponents thought that corruption is inborn in poor people. Furthermore, other pauper children use rough Cockney slang, but Oliver, oddly enough, speaks in proper King’s English. His grammatical fastidiousness is also inexplicable, as Oliver presumably is not well-educated. Even when he is abused and manipulated, Oliver does not become angry or indignant. When Sikes and Crackit force him to assist in a robbery, Oliver merely begs to be allowed to “run away and die in the fields. Oliver does not present a complex picture of a person torn between good and evil—instead, he is goodness incarnate. [pic] Even if we might feel that Dickens’s social criticism would have been more effective if he had focused on a more complex poor character, like the Artful Dodger or Nancy, the audience for whom Dickens was writing might not have been receptive to such a portrayal. Dickens’s Victorian middle-class readers were likely to hold opinions on the poor that were only a little less extreme than those expressed by Mr.
Bumble, the beadle who treats paupers with great cruelty. In fact, Oliver Twist was criticized for portraying thieves and prostitutes at all. Given the strict morals of Dickens’s audience, it may have seemed necessary for him to make Oliver a saintlike figure. Because Oliver appealed to Victorian readers’ sentiments, his story may have stood a better chance of effectively challenging their prejudices Throughout Oliver Twist, Dickens criticizes the Victorian stereotype of the poor as criminals from birth.
However, after a strident critique of the representation of the poor as hereditary criminals, he portrays Monks as a criminal whose nature has been determined since birth. Brownlow tells Monks, “You . . . from your cradle were gall and bitterness to your own father’s heart, and . . . all evil passions, vice, and profligacy, festered [in you]. ” Monks’s evil character seems less the product of his own decisions than of his birth. Oliver Twist is full of mistaken, assumed, and changed identities. Oliver joins his final domestic scene by assuming yet another identity.
Once the mystery of his real identity is revealed, he quickly exchanges it for another, becoming Brownlow’s adopted son. After all the fuss and the labyrinthine conspiracies to conceal Oliver’s identity, it is ironic that he gives it up almost as soon as he discovers it. The final chapters quickly deliver the justice that has been delayed throughout the novel. Fagin dies on the gallows. Sikes hangs himself by accident—it is as though the hand of fate or a higher authority reaches out to execute him. Mr. and Mrs. Bumble are deprived of the right to ever hold public office again.
They descend into poverty and suffer the same privations they had forced on paupers in the past. Monks never reforms, nor does life show him any mercy. True to Brownlow’s characterization of him as bad from birth, he continues his idle, evil ways and dies in an American prison. For him, there is no redemption. Like Noah, he serves as a foil—a character whose attributes contrast with, and thereby accentuate, those of another—to Oliver’s character. He is as evil, twisted, and mean while Oliver is good, virtuous, and kind. Oliver and all of his friends, of course, enjoy a blissful, fairy-tale ending.
Everyone takes up residence in the same neighborhood and lives together like one big, happy family. Perhaps the strangest part of the concluding section of Oliver Twist is Leeford’s condition for Oliver’s inheritance. Leeford states in his will that, if his child were a son, he would inherit his estate “only on the stipulation that in his minority he should never have stained his name with any public act of dishonor, meanness, cowardice, or wrong. ” It seems strange that a father would consign his child to lifelong poverty as well as the stigma of illegitimacy if the son ever committed a single wrong in childhood.
In the same way that the court is willing to punish Oliver for crimes committed by another, Leeford is ready to punish Oliver for any small misdeed merely because he hated his first son, Monks, so much. One contradiction that critics of Oliver Twist have pointed out is that although Dickens spends much of the novel openly attacking retributive justice, the conclusion of the novel is quick to deliver such justice. At the story’s end, crimes are punished harshly, and devilish characters are still hereditary devils to the very end.
The only real change is that Oliver is now acknowledged as a hereditary angel rather than a hereditary devil. No one, it seems, can escape the identity dealt to him or her at birth. The real crime of characters like Mr. Bumble and Fagin may not have been mistreating a defenseless child—it may have been mistreating a child who was born for a better life. Yet Dickens’s crusade for forgiveness and tolerance is upheld by his treatment of more minor characters, like Nancy, whose memory is sanctified, and Charley Bates, who redeems himself and enters honest society.
These characters’ fates demonstrate that the individual can indeed rise above his or her circumstances, and that an unfortunate birth does not have to guarantee an unfortunate life and legacy. Oliver Twist is a story about the battles of good versus evil, with the evil continually trying to corrupt and exploit the good. It portrays the power of Love, Hate, Greed, and Revenge and how each can affect the people involved. The love between Rose and Harry in the end conquers all the obstacles between them.
The hate that Monks feels for Oliver and the greed he feels towards his inheritance eventually destroys him. The revenge that Sikes inflicts on Nancy drives him almost insane and eventually to accidental suicide. Dickens’ wide array of touching characters emphasizes the virtues of sacrifice, compromise, charity, and loyalty. Most importantly, though the system for the poor is not changed, the good in Dickens’ novel outweighs the evil, and the main characters that are part of this good live happily ever after Poverty is a prominent concern in Oliver Twist.
Throughout the novel, Dickens enlarges on this theme, describing slums so decrepit that whole rows of houses are on the point of ruin. In an early chapter, Oliver attends a pauper’s funeral with Mr. Sowerberry and sees a whole family crowded together in one miserable room. This ubiquitous misery makes Oliver’s few encounters with charity and love more poignant. Oliver owes his life several times over to kindness both large and small. The apparent plague of poverty that Dickens describes also conveyed to his middle-class readers how much of the London population was stricken with poverty and disease.
Nonetheless, in Oliver Twist he delivers a somewhat mixed message about social caste and social injustice. Oliver’s illegitimate workhouse origins place him at the nadir of society; as an orphan without friends, he is routinely despised. His “sturdy spirit” keeps him alive despite the torment he must endure. Most of his associates, however, deserve their place among society’s dregs and seem very much at home in the depths. Noah Claypole, a charity boy like Oliver, is idle, stupid, and cowardly; Sikes is a thug; Fagin lives by corrupting children; and the Artful Dodger seems born for a life of crime.
Many of the middle-class people Oliver encounters—Mrs. Sowerberry, Mr. Bumble, and the savagely hypocritical “gentlemen” of the workhouse board, for example; are, if anything, worse. Oliver, on the other hand, who has an air of refinement remarkable for a workhouse boy, proves to be of gentle birth. Although he has been abused and neglected all his life, he recoils, aghast, at the idea of victimizing anyone else. This apparently hereditary gentlemanliness makes Oliver Twist something of a challenging tale, not just an indictment of social injustice.
Oliver, born for better things, struggles to survive in the savage world of the underclass before finally being rescued by his family and returned to his proper place—a commodious country house. In both novels,the protagonists managed to survive in spite of their lack of disadvantages. Jane,who never saw her parents,finds herself positive role-models and with the inspirationof these models she manages to reach her happy ending even there is a strict class distinction. Some critics say, Jane’s success comes from her motherlessness.
Marianne Hirsch explains this and says “The heroine attemping to cut herself off from a constraining past, to invent a new story, her own story, and eager to avoid the typically devastatingfate of her mother (Hirsch 44) Oliver, who suffered a lot and managed to stay pure and clean, got the divine judgement and possesses a family now and he is away happy with his family ———————– Throughout the novel, Jane is described as a “fairy. ” Read more: http://www. cliffsnotes. com/study_guide/literature/Jane-Eyre-Critical-Essays-A-Jungian-Approach-to-Jane-Eyre. id-23,pageNum-725. html#ixzz0ogTEssy5