Jane Eyre, Hamlet and Keats

Topics: John Keats, William Shakespeare, Jane Eyre Pages: 5 (1664 words) Published: May 25, 2001
To convey a sense of argument, imagery and perspective, authors use various types of language, syntax and vocabulary to achieve this. An extract from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, a soliloquy from Hamlet, by William Shakespeare and Ode to Autumn, by John Keats all have a number of striking similarities between them, as well as a few differences, which will be analysed to show.

Unlike Hamlet and Autumn, the extract from Jane Eyre, doesn't have any particular argument, but the use of language is similar to that of Keats and to some extent Hamlet. Jane Eyre is a character existing in a narrative in the first person, as is Hamlet in his soliloquy. This brings a sense of identification and realism to the reader, "I did not feel the cold, though it froze keenly" (Bronte, p143) indicated the narrator's feelings and experience. The narration is written in the past tense, "in those days I was young" (p143) to add to the affect of a recollection and to bring the sense of an autobiography.

Jane is not an omniscient narrator, like Hamlet, therefore the reader can see things she does not, such as the gloomy significance of the extract and how it is an indication of her future relationship with Mr Rochester, and Thornfield. The whole of the novel is written in elaborate, complex sentences, which perhaps is the author's way of demonstrating Jane's intelligence and eloquence. The style of language and it usage is similar to that of Keats. Bronte uses active verbs such as "rising moon" and "blended clouds" (p143) and "noise" breaking out, and integrates them into the elegant prose to bring a sense of movement to Jane's surroundings. An idea of sound is also achieved by the use of onomatopoeic words such as "tinkle of the nearest stream" and "whispering" (p143) this brings a sensuous aspect to the prose, something that Keats also manages to achieve in his Ode to Autumn. There is even a small degree of alliteration "wave wanderings" (p143) something, which Keats also uses.

The imagery in Jane Eyre is plentiful, for instance the moon is personified as female, "The rising moon . . . she looked over Hay" (p143) the images are conjured up through pictorial descriptions used by Jane, as with Keats. We get the impression that Thornfield is slightly intimidating, we know the hall is "grey and battlemented" (p143) and that the woods are "dark". The descriptions of the town in the distance hills are insightful, "blue smoke" is sent up from the few chimneys and Jane claims she can hear "plainly its thin murmurs of life." (p143) Jane dwells on the effects of the industry beyond, "metallic clatter" can be heard, as the foreground and the backgrounds appear to merge, the "solid mass of crag" invokes images of trees in the near and far distance. Jane herself says that, "tint melts into tint." (p143) It is an image of a Victorian town full of industry, which would have been bourgeoning in 1847 when Jane Eyre was originally written.

There is a slight dark and light contrast in the extract. Jane gives the impression that it is just after sunset, the sun has gone down "sank crimson" (p143) and it is "dusk". The rookery is said to be "dark" as is "the great oak" and the childhood thoughts Jane recalls. Contrastingly she describes the moon as "brightening momently" and that the horizon is "sunny". Alongside her dark childhood reminisces, Jane recollects "fancies bright," from this we get a sense of Jane's ability to find brightness in a dark, dusky atmosphere. Jane is in the dénouement of autumn heading toward winter, like Keats, but conversely she does not share his sense of sadness or regret.

Ode to Autumn is similar to Jane Eyre in its depiction of autumn, however it is more a valedictory poem, a fond farewell to the season. It is a literary poem full of description, similar to Jane Eyre. The language is set out to achieve balance. Critic Helen Vendler (1983, p32) noted the "symmetry and parallelism" used in the syntactical units of each stanza....

Bibliography: Andrews, R (ed) (1994) Hamlet. Cambridge University Press.
Barnard, J (ed) (1988) John Keats, Selected Poems. Penguin.
Bronte, C (1966) Jane Eyre. Penguin.
Drakakis, J (ed) (1985) Alternative Shakespeare 's. Routledge
Stone, B (1992) The Poetry of Keats. Penguin.
Vendler, H, (1983) The Odes of John Keats. Harvard University Press.
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