Family in Jane Eyre and Hamlet

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In both William Shakespeare’s play, ‘Hamlet’ and in Charlotte Brontë’s novel, ‘Jane Eyre’ the self is an extremely powerful notion. One of the main constraints and one of the main motivators in both texts is the importance and influence of the family. Both texts explore the powerful impact of the family, or perceived family, to define or shape the self and the extent of influence that the family can have to alter, prevent or encourage development of the self. This influence is used effectively by both authors to reveal and accentuate character growth. The movement in character growth is both physical and spiritual, revealing through a combination of both, the extent of family influence. The unusual and controversial representations of the…show more content…
Helen and Miss Temple manage to install a further self growth in Jane. She transforms from an angry girl bent on self-survival into a mostly independent young woman. However, she still has a desperate need to be loved and be a part of a family, this need conveys that she is young and still developing a true sense of self; ‘ gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it dash its hoof at my chest’ Jane Eyre ( pg.81) Brontë creates Jane as a character who has never known a real family, and who goes out into the world to find love and devotion which she believes is what family represents. This quest is her motivation and encourages her sense of self to grow and develop as she overcomes the difficulties in finding her own sanctuary. However in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the protagonist is motivated by the complete destruction of his family and the play focuses on his valiant attempts to enact vengeance against his family. Hamlet is trapped in a dysfunctional, abstract world; almost everyone in it is interested only in their own brand of survival within the framework. The family structure is crucial to Hamlet’s warped sense of self and to the overall tragic message of the play. Hamlets family unit was broken by the death of his father, and by his uncle Claudius marrying his mother and becoming the

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