Respective societies Essay
How do the writers of Jane Eyre and Of Mice and Men show Crooks and Jane to be outsiders in their respective societies? Howard Jenkins 11R How do the writers of Jane Eyre and Of Mice and Men show Crooks and Jane to be outsiders in their respective societies? In the novels Jane Eyre and Of Mice and Men both novels are protesting about social injustices. These injustices lead to many of the characters being outsiders or they are outsiders because they don’t fit into accepted conventions. People are outsiders due to injustices and their differences.
One of the techniques that both Charlotte Bronte and John Steinbeck use to show both Jane and Crooks as outsiders is by making them ranked lower socially compared to those around them. In Jane Eyre Jane is ranked lower than her Aunt and cousins as they are middle-class and she is someone from the lower class living in their house. This creates the impression on the reader that she is an outsider in their middle-class world very effectively. She is looked down on by her Aunt and cousins as if she does not deserve the respect that a servant would get as at least a servant works for their food and room.
This attitude has been conveyed to the servants and Miss Abbott notes, “She is worse than a servant for she does nothing for her keep. ” This technique works very effectively to show that Jane is an outsider. In Of Mice and Men Steinbeck uses a similar technique to portray Crooks as an outsider. Because Crooks is black he is seen as inferior to most of the men on the ranch due to the racist views at the time the book was written. As with Jane in Jane Eyre this portrays Crooks as an outsider on the ranch as he is not accepted by most of the other men.
Crooks is only too aware of their attitudes and he tells Lennie, “They think I stink. ” The language in the novels also helps to portray the characters of Jane and Crooks as outsiders. In Jane Eyre the story is narrated in the first person narrative. This engages the reader’s sympathy. The narration causes the reader to trust her as she is not liked by everyone and Jane quite openly admits this. Also the surroundings in Jane Eyre show Gateshead to be a miserable place for Jane.
The rooms are places that, for Jane, are filled with cold and dread, even in the nursery where you would expect her to feel happy and play with toys is a miserable place. Jane cannot touch the doll’s house furniture, “for the tiny chairs and mirrors were Georgiana’s property,” This sort of writing shows the reader how hard a life Jane lives at Gateshead and how she is seen by those she lives with. She is not permitted to touch things that belong to those who are a higher social class than her and she is not even happy in the child’s nursery. By demonising the Reed family, Bronte ensures our sympathy for Jane.
The harshness of the weather in the novel reinforces the harshness of Jane’s life with the Reeds. The weather is always cold with a winter wind and rain making any outdoor exercise and an escape from the walls of Gateshead quite impossible. Jane looks through the glass of the windows at the grounds “where all was still and petrified under the influence of a hard frost. ” The harshness and cold of the weather reflect Jane’s lack of love at Gateshead. However Bronte allows Bessie to show her affection and Jane says, “even for me life had its gleams of sunshine”
Bronte also uses symbolism elsewhere in the novel. For example the window separates known from unknown, inside from outside. The world outside the window offers Jane more happiness. It is apparent that Charlotte Bronte manipulated her use of language so that the setting and elements in this novel appear as objective reflections for the inner life. Steinbeck does not use symbolism as extensively as Bronte, but the bare, isolated harness room represents his alienation on the ranch. There are many similarities between the characters and situations of Jane Eyre and Crooks.
Both of the characters are seeking independence. Jane shows this by always speaking her mind rebelliously and in doing so angering those around her, “If she were a nice, pretty child one might compassionate her forlornness but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that. ” Similarly, Crooks keeps a defensive distance from the others and is described as a “proud aloof man. ” This creates compassion for the characters by the reader. Another similarity between the characters is that they are both seeking for companionship.
Jane is excluded form the Reeds and is unloved, but she does not enjoy this isolation, “If others don’t love me I would rather die than live. ” Crooks is also lonely as he is excluded from the other men on the ranch because he is black, but he too feels that loneliness is destructive, “Books ain’t no good. A guy needs someone to be near him. ” When Lennie is taliking about the ranch in Of Mice and Men Crooks is quick to offer his services on the new ranch hoping for some companionship, “If you guys would want a hand to work for nothing just his keep why I’d come and lend a hand.
” Another similarity between the two characters is that they are both bullied by those around them. Jane is bullied by her cousins, especially John Reed, “He bullied and punished me, not two or three time in the week, nor once or twice in the day but continually. ” Crooks has been bullied by other men on the ranch because he is black and different to them, but he is destroyed by Curley’s wife’s cruel taunts and threats and he withdraws into himself, “Crooks had reduced himself to nothing.
There was no personality, no ego – nothing to arouse either like or dislike. ” Both Jane and Crooks are physically isolated from the rest of those around them. Jane is banished by Mrs Reed to the kitchen and Crooks is excluded from the other men’s activities. Jane says, “From every enjoyment I was, of course, excluded” And Crooks tells Lennie, “They play cards in there, but I can’t play because I’m black. They say I stink. ” Jane and crooks are very proud individuals. Jane tells her aunt that the Reed children,
“are not fit to associate with me” and Crooks was a, “Proud, aloof man” Both writers make their characters more appealing by presenting them as feisty and courageous at times. A common attribute that both Steinbeck and Bronte use to portray Jane and Crooks as outsiders in the novel is that both characters read to escape from their own miserable, lonely existences. Jane says, “I soon possessed myself a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures,” and, “With Bewick on my knee I was happy.
” Crooks too withdraws into a world of books, “And he had books too a tattered dictionary and a mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905. ” Books are the only things that these characters can communicate with and again their love of literature endears them to us. Overall the authors of Jane Eyre and Of Mice and Men use many similar techniques to make the characters Jane and Crooks appear as outsiders in the novels. The authorial purpose is obvious, the writers have sympathy with the underdog and through their characters they challenge the reader to question their consciences.