English / Jane Eyre Compared To The Great Gatsby

Jane Eyre Compared To The Great Gatsby

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Autor:  anton  23 December 2010
Tags:  Compared,  Gatsby
Words: 1343   |   Pages: 6
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Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby

The novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald can be compared by what is valued by each character in the novel. Prestige, wealth, and education are some of the few things deemed important in each novel. In Jane Eyre, there is the notion that social status is analogous to wealth. During the novel, Jane is a poor girl who never holds any distinguished positions. As she is planning her wedding, Jane is worried because she can’t offer Rochester beauty, money, or connections, but when she discovers her cousins and receives an inheritance, she slowly moves into a position of equality with her true love, Edward Rochester. However, in The Great Gatsby, there is a separation between being wealthy and having a high social status. Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire, resides in West Egg, Long Island. West Egg is known as being an area populated by people who have made their fortune recently and have yet to establish social connections. Just across the bay lies East Egg, home to the upper class of wealthy people such as Tom and Daisy Buchanan. The distinction between East and West Egg show that wealth is not a sign of prestige in The Great Gatsby. The association between wealth and social status in Jane Eyre cause Jane Eyre to marry the love of her life, but the separation between wealth and social status in The Great Gatsby ultimately cost Jay Gatsby his life.

Jane Eyre comes into a position to marry Edward Rochester when she receives her inheritance. Prior to the inheritance, Rochester saw her as a “dependent,” who always did “her duty” (Bronte 282). Jane even refers to Rochester as “master” and makes note of the separation of “wealth, caste, custom” between them (Bronte 282). She refers to her love for him as unavoidable and beyond the bounds of class. Rochester proposes marriage to Jane and becomes intent on transforming her into his view of ideal beauty. She resists and tells him, “you won't know me, sir; and I shall not be your Jane Eyre

any longer,” meaning that she will lose herself if she conforms (Bronte 291). Jane wants to remain independent and if she allows Rochester to change her, she will become a shell of her former self. Soon after, Jane learns of Rochester’s dishonesty and runs away. She learns of her inheritance while living with Diana, Mary, and St. John Rivers. Her uncle, Mr. Eyre of Madeira, died and left her his entire fortune. At the same time, Jane learns that Diana, Mary and John Rivers are her cousins. Ironically, Jane is more excited about finding out she has relatives to be proud of than to receive the inheritance. In fact, the blessing of relatives is “exhilarating- not like the ponderous gift of gold: rich and welcome enough in its way, but sobering from its weight” (Bronte 430). Now that Jane has money, she is on her way to a position of equality with Rochester. She does not want to be treated like a princess otherwise she would have married Rochester the first time when he offered to shower her with gifts. Instead, she wants to keep her own identity and remain independent. She goes back to Thornfield and finds it burned to the ground. Rochester had saved the servants but ended up losing his sight and one of his hands in the fire. Jane finds out that Rochester is currently residing in Ferndean with two servants. She rushes to see him and one of the first things she says is, “I am independent, sir, as well as rich: I am my own mistress” (Bronte 483). Jane refers to herself as an “independent woman” and a “mistress” which shows the effect her inheritance had on her social status. Earlier in the novel, Rochester treated Jane like she was a servant but is now more open to her independence. As a mistress and rich woman, she is now equal with Rochester and as a result is able to marry him.

Like Jane, Jay Gatsby lacks the equality needed to rekindle a relationship with the love of his life. However, unlike Jane, Gatsby is already rich and is longing for a true identity with which he can become a prominent figure in society. Gatsby was a Lieutenant stationed at the base near Daisy’s home when they started dating and fell in love. Gatsby lied to Daisy and “let her believe that he was a person from much the same strata as herself” (Fitzgerald 156). He told her that he was a wealthy and prestigious man who can take care of her. Gatsby was soon called off to the war and Daisy promised to wait for him. She ends up marrying Tom Buchanan who has a solid social position and the approval of her parents. Since then, Daisy has moved on with her life with Tom in East Egg, but Gatsby’s obsession with her has only grown. Nick learns of Gatsby’s fixation when Jordan tells him that “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay” (Fitzgerald 83). His fixation with her has caused him to completely change his life to try to be near her. Like Jane Eyre, Gatsby longs for a position of equality with his loved one. When Gatsby was young, he worked on a yacht owned by a wealthy man named Dan Cody. Gatsby immediately fell in love with wealth and luxury, and when Cody died, he left Gatsby an inheritance. Cody’s mistress prevented him from claiming the inheritance and since then he dedicated himself to becoming a wealthy and successful man. His expensive car and his large mansion are all superficial and are merely a facade in his scheme to win Daisy. His connection with Wolfshiem, however, casts suspicion that he acquired his wealth through the mob and is not actually from the upper class. The contrast between East and West Egg is what separates Gatsby from the love of his life. He has the wealth but lacks the proper connections and breeding to gain equality with Daisy. Reality finally strikes Gatsby in a confrontation with Tom. During the conflict, Daisy feels herself

“drawing further and further into herself, so he gave that up and only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room” (Fitzgerald 142).

Daisy had strong feelings for Gatsby earlier, but during the argument feels herself getting closer and closer to Tom. She finally realizes that she and Gatsby can never be together due to their separation of class. Had Gatsby been a prestigious and wealthy young man when they originally met, they might have gotten married. Daisy refuses to sacrifice her social position for love. In the end, Gatsby’s attempts to win back Daisy are futile and his strive for equality is what brings about his demise.

The strive for equality is paralleled in Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby but is contrasted with regards to the way each displays the separation between wealth and social status. Jane Eyre’s rise in social status is a direct result of her inheritance. This gives her the equality she is looking for to have a relationship with Rochester. Jay Gatsby, however, never achieves the same sense of equality with his lover, Daisy. Although wealthy, Gatsby is separated from Daisy by their social classes. Unlike Jane, he falls short of his goal and it costs him his life. The equality achieved by each character is dependent upon the relationship between wealth and social class and is what determines their fate.



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