Childhood in Great Expectations and Jane Eyre Essay

2675 Words 11 Pages
Compare the presentation of childhood in Great Expectations and
Jane Eyre

Both "Jane Eyre" and "Great Expectation" adopt a typically Victorian outlook on childhood, which can seem quite alien set against modern values. However in both books, and particularly in "Jane Eyre", there is an effort to create a convincing expression of childhood through strong emphasis of the child's point of view above all others.

In both books there is a interesting use of hindsight within the first person narration; not only does the narrator describe their childhood with perfect clarity of detail "before the long hour and a half of prayers and Bible-reading was over, I felt ready to perish with cold.
Breakfast time came at last, and this
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I have an impression that they were to be contributed eventually towards the liquidation of the National Debt". In this way Dickens could be considered a little less 'true' to his characters than Brontë is, as he regular interposes his own personality into his main character's thoughts and dialogue "I saw speckled-legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home, and running out from it, as if some circumstance of the greatest public importance had just transpired in the spider community." However, all this is not to say that the authors were wrong to use such techniques in their books; perfect recollection of the past is accepted convention of first person narration, and it is not unrealistic that an adult recalling their childhood would speak about it from an adult perspective. Yet it is worthy of note that where modern authors may draw attention to the great differences between childhood and adulthood, and the significance of the passage between those two, in "Jane Eyre" and "Great Expectations", where Pip and Jane are treated more like 'little adults' than ordinary children, Dickens and Bronte maintain roughly the same tone and dynamic throughout regardless of the age of the protagonists at
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