Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: 9780307386885 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen skillfully combined the Cinderella theme with the fairy tale of the abandoned princess. Cinderella Fanny was brought up by an unworthy father, but without losing her natural goodness and gentleness. Fanny’s good qualities were in stark contrast to her shabby and dirty home in Puss. In Austen’s first several novels, the heroine’s moral standard is always higher than the traditional social concept, so that she can marry a good man. It is a reward for their good qualities, or compensation for their troubles and sufferings, and such heroines themselves are the yardstick of good judgment and good feelings. But Fanny Price, the heroine of Mansfield Park, succumbed to the virtues of those around her, such as Sir Thomas, the only father of Austen’s novels to be praised, and Edmund.

Fanny sought the traditional virtues of good manners and religious feeling, and she became an ardent supporter of the traditional moral standards. The book also catered to the praise of many traditionalist critics at the time. In the novel, Austen used the gentle words and deeds of Fanny to express her moral educator’s idea that moral perfection is difficult to achieve and needs to be achieved at the cost of self-restraint and sacrifice. The female voice is required to be static, so her eyes become the most effective agent. Because in the spiritual life of England in the 19th century, the moral sense was very strong. The church and its moral precepts, which dominated people’s lives, evoked not a desire to save souls but a sense of duty.

Therefore, in Mansfield Park, Austen strictly rejected the vigorous spirit of the immoral Mary Crawford, and blindly affirmed the weakness of the holy Fanny who believed in Christianity. This strange and abnormal likes and dislikes are the core of the intention of this novel. Austen made this frightened little daughter from a poor family conquer all people with virtue and finally became the mistress of Mansfield Manor. It shows holiness and greatness, emphasizes the close connection between happiness and virtue, and firmly believes that a good person has the right to develop and fulfill herself according to her own nature and good deeds.

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: 9780307386878 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Austen made a highly realistic discussion of women’s issues at that time. She examines the heroines in the patriarchal society at that time. In that society, the value of a person is based on the ownership of property. Since generations of property went to male heirs, they were at a disadvantage from the start and could only be subordinated to men. As a result, these types of characters appear again and again in Austen’s writings: the assertive father; a mother who is obsessed with her social status and does everything possible to marry off her daughter, well-equipped young men, whose cynicism reflects their superior social position, and marriageable daughters, from the elegant headless girl to the sensible or emotional young woman.

How can a heroine achieve personal happiness through marriage in such a stern, demanding and often hostile world? Austen’s admonition was to use reason to control emotion She argues that emotions are often a dangerous guide to female behaviour. If a man of superior condition, but not of unrequited affections, is to be wooed, the consequences are often disastrous. Either because of his personal preference or because of parental disapproval, the man chooses a better match. These views of Austen are most evident in this first novel. The whole beginning of Sense and Sensibility revolved around the question of fortune in Dashwood’s will, and the want of avarice of Mrs. John Dashwood, who had an annual income of ten thousand pounds.

In the process of dividing up the estate, Austen makes no bones about the opposite characteristics of the two Dashwood sisters. Elinor was a very sensible, calm woman who, though only nineteen, was a good mother’s adviser. She was wonderfully kind and affectionate, but she knew how to hold back her feelings. It was a subject which her mother had yet to learn, and which one of her sisters had stubbornly refused to learn. Her sister Marianne’s talent was in many respects equal to her sister’s. She was inordinate in sorrow or joy. All is well but no discretion. That is to say, Marianne allowed her feelings to dominate her actions, while Elinor would not be swayed by such impulses.

Austen’s intention is very clear. She simply changed the original title of Elinor and Marianne to Sense and Sensibility to emphasize her theme. In this book, Austen shows the contrast between the characters of the two sisters. She narrates most of the stories from the perspective of Elinor’s outlook on life, ethics and social society, thus shaping a reasonable mortal. This is her ideal woman. When they learned that Willoughby had made full use of his superior social position, played with Marianne’s earnest love, abandoned the poor girl Eliza, and finally married the rich Miss Gray, Marianne was fully convinced of her folly, and her mother admitted that her admiration of Willoughby had been imprudent. Reason thus prevailed in both sisters. Austen arranged a happy ending for them. The book begins with comedy, and there is a disturbance in the middle. Marian almost becomes a tragedy, which ends in comedy.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations (Dover Thrift Editions): Charles Dickens: 9780486415864:  Amazon.com: Books

With sympathetic and nuanced prose, the book portrays Joe, Pip and Biddy as unpretentious little men of kindness. Pip lives in his sister’s family, living a hard life, his dream is to be a blacksmith like his brother-in-law; he did not want to be a gentleman. Then he wanted to be a gentleman because of a change in circumstances. The theme of love runs through the story of Great Expectations. Pip’s unwavering love for Estella, Pip’s brotherly love for Herbert, Magwitch’s misshapen but deeply hidden love for Pip are all described in detail. But what moves us most is Jonah’s unselfish, unsentimental love, and Dickens’s most intimate description of the relationship between Pip and Joe. Then, when Pip’s hopes of inheritance were so completely dashed, and he fell seriously ill, it was Joe again, who not only gave him great moral support, but quietly helped him to pay off his debts. This kind of love leads Pip to return to conscience gradually in the constant inner struggle between right and wrong. In Great Expectations, the happy life of Joe and his wife Biddy contrasts sharply with Pip’s pursuit of a gentlemanly life. In them, we can see the writer’s praise for the valuable quality and sincere feelings of the ordinary people at the bottom of the society. Dickens’s characterization of people is not just a description of their appearance, but a detailed analysis of people through his unique humor and exaggerated language. He not only depicts the characters from the external environment, but also depicts the characters with the help of the detailed description of the characters’ movements, behaviors, gestures, expressions and so on. In the novel Great Expectations, the author Dickens portrays Pip as the first person perspective in the form of autobiographical in order to be able to express Pip’s psychological activities and action language in detail in the work.

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Hard Times - Kindle edition by Dickens, Charles . Literature & Fiction  Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Hard Times is a novel by Charles Dickens, published in 1854. It describes life in an industrial town. Dickens was now 42 years old. The setting for this book is a time of intense industrial tensions in British society. Josiah Bounderby, a banker and textile mill owner, was friends with Thomas Gradgrind, a retired hardware wholesaler, Congressman and educator. Together they controlled the town’s economic system and educational institutions. They are materialistic and unsentimental, pretentious, and live by the principle of utilitarianism. Bounderby was attended by the widow Mrs. Sparsit. He taught his children to be practical and down-to-earth. When they learned to walk, they were put into classrooms and spent their days dealing with numbers. They were not allowed to read poetry or stories. Gradgrind marries his young daughter Louisa to the much older Bounderby, and the widow Mrs. Sparsit, jealous of her, inflicts pain on her, leading to the breakup of her marriage. At Gradgrind’s own educational initiative, his son Tom was forced to help Bounderby with his work. He led a dissolute life and was heavily in debt. He stole money from The Bounderby Bank and ran away, hiding in the circus and playing the role of a clown. After a series of painful lessons and the influence of Sissy Jupe, a circus girl, he gradually changed his attitude towards life and was sent to America by his father. Bounderby liked to boast of his self-made wealth, and to accuse workers of being dissatisfied with their delusions of luxury. Five years later Bounderby died of a stroke on the streets of Cookstown, and Louisa remarried.

Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

Dombey and Son (Cronos Classics) eBook by Charles Dickens - 9782378073671 |  Rakuten Kobo Greece

In this work the author presents his views on the relationship between money and human nature. Dombey was haughty, imperious, and cruel when he had a great deal of money. After he went bankrupt, he confessed to his daughter and became both weak and kind. Florence and Gay took him in, and old Dombey, loving his grandson, lived a quiet and happy old age. Dombey and Son also truly reflects the development of industrial capitalism in Britain in the 1830s and 1840s, especially the development of the railway industry occupies an obvious place in the novel.

The work describes the vanity and hypocrisy of small citizens and the evil of the marriage system in Victorian England. The author tries to show the great corrosive and destructive effect of money on family relations (mainly father-son relations and husband-wife relations), which reflects the social reality that family relations have been reduced to the naked money relations in capitalist society. Paul’s premature death and Florence’s failure to seek her father’s love powerfully reveal the dominance of money and the fact that money is doomed to failure when it competes with emotion.

However, while criticizing the money relationship, the author tries to counter the money relationship with emotional education and moral influence. In fact, the root cause of Dombey’s transformation was his subsequent change in rank, and not the result of his daughter’s warmth. It must also be pointed out that it is obviously one-sided and inadequate for the author to attribute the monetization of family relations only to the conflict between money and emotion, which reflects the limitations of the author’s world view. Dombey and Son is a tightly structured novel created by Dickens, which is quite different from the loose structure in his earlier works.

The appearance of all the characters, and the development of the story, is arranged around the development of Mr. Dombey’s destiny, and the events are organically bound together, and the story is very lively and interesting. The artistic techniques Dickens used in his novels are varied. There are biting sarcasm, humor with a smile, objective descriptions, deliberate exaggerations, direct and simple statements, and also witty metaphors. Dickens’s characters are all alive. They have their own unique character, but also their own unique language. Even a dog, a parrot, a pair of tongs, and a curtain sometimes give vivid expression to their thoughts and feelings.

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY (complete, unabridged and with all the original  illustrations from first publication) - Kindle edition by DICKENS, CHARLES.  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Nicholas Nickleby is a boarding school teacher, an ambitious young man who is left penniless by the death of his father. His usury uncle not only refused to extend his hand to help, but uses his sister’s beauty for his own profit. He was upright and kind, and fled back to London to help abused schoolchildren. After many trials and tribulations, he fought with bad guys and exposed his uncle’s plot. Finally, he succeeded and married the girl he loved. Through his experience, the author reveals that at that time, the so-called poor run schools were actually profit-making places, the students suffered from hunger all day long, and whipping became the most important means of education.

Like most of Dickens’ works, Nicholas Nickleby is set in a contemporary setting. Most of the action takes place in London, with some episodes in Portsmouth and some in Yorkshire and Devon. This work satirizes social injustice in the form of irony. In the subject matter of this book, the main one is the education at that time. Dickens strongly criticized the education system at that time. He believes it is a serious crime that the British education system allows poorly functioning boarding schools to abuse children. Kindness and compassion are the main themes of this book. Noggs also plays the role of guardian angel because he is kind and upright. The friendship between Smike and Nicklyby further shows Dickens’ pity for some unfortunate people.

Greed is also an important theme of the novel. All characters make others suffer for their own financial gain. Most of their mistakes are caused by the love of money. Just as the Bible says: Money is the root of all evil. The book also deals with sexism and the passage of teenagers into adulthood. The book tells the story in the third person. Sometimes, the feelings of the characters are directly written out, and sometimes the feelings or thoughts of the characters are indirectly expressed through some small actions or facial expressions. When Dickens describes the abused children in chapter 8, he employs different rhetorical devices such as exaggeration, metaphor, alliteration and personification to leave readers with images of those children.

Agnes Gray by Anne Brontë

Agnes Grey, by Anne Bronte. I had rather low expectations for this  lesser-known Bronte novel, but it definitely exceed… | Agnes grey, Anne  bronte, Old movie posters

Agnes met the honorable curate Weston. Although both of them are equally poor, they have the good feelings of the world, and enjoy the beautiful things of nature together in helping each other. She and Weston lived an unflashy, truth-seeking life. In the face of ignorant and cruel students, selfish and hypocritical employers, Agnes showed integrity and patience. She never gave up her efforts and pursuit. She sympathizes with the weak and often visits and helps the poor. In this, Weston has done even better. In them, goodness is reflected. Compared with Agnes Gray and Weston, the ignorance, coldness, selfishness, and hypocrisy of the young ladies and gentlemen of the bourgeoisie are obvious. Standing on the progressive standpoint of that era, the author reveals the social inequality and unreasonableness.

Agnes Gray not only reflects the personal experience of a governess in the first half of the 19th century, but also highlights the characteristics of ignorance, callousness, selfishness and hypocrisy of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie in the rising stage of the British society at that time. Although they have accumulated a lot of material wealth and gained a high social status and power, readers can feel the dark side hidden behind all these grand appearances from the perspective of the author’s narration. These lords and ladies seemed to have fine manners and fine conversation, but their spiritual and material lives were far from balanced. If we cast aside that superficial appearance and go deep into their hearts, the reader will find that they are very poor in spirit.

Mr. Murray does nothing but drink and abuse, Uncle Robson is devious and takes pleasure in killing animals and insulting people, and Lord Ashby eats and drinks excessively. Even the Reverend Hatfield, the spiritual guide of these upper men, was no gentleman. From the pulpit he was eloquent, discerning and guiding, and presenting himself as the spokesman of the savior of mankind. As soon as he stepped off the pulpit, he showed his true colors. He tends to the ladies of the rich family. He is witty and talkative on the surface, but in reality he is a buffoon and a smooth talker. When he failed to court Miss Murray, he went out of his way to threaten her, and all the dignity and grace of the preacher was gone. In contrast to them were Agnes Gray, the governess, and the curate, Weston.

They all looked ordinary and came from poor families. They are indeed poor in material things, but they do not feel inferior to take the breath of the rich. They live a very full life within themselves, live by their own rules faithfully, and believe in the greatness of human love. They are striving for a balanced life, and if they have no ambition to make the world a better place, at least they want to perfect themselves. While seeking respect and love, they never forget to respect and love others. They live a life free from vanity and in pursuit of truth, which is not only their honesty to others and to themselves, but also their attitude towards life as a whole. They love knowledge and true friendship, as well as the plants and trees of nature.

They are intellectually, morally, and mentally superb to their employers or superiors. Because of their spiritual superiority, they face difficulties, grievances and injustices without deceiving themselves or feeling uneasy, and always accept the gifts of life with open arms. In this respect, the author seems to be saying that Agnes Gray and Weston’s acceptance of life is deeper and broader than that of property owners. It should be noted that in Agnes Gray and Weston, there is indeed a certain religious feeling. It is easy for the reader to relate much of the work, especially the personalities and experiences of the two men, to this background. It is true that the author measures a man’s character by the piety of his religious feelings.

The author distinguishes Agnes Gray from her employer by her faith in God and her love for humanity. But what is presented directly to the reader is Gray’s endurance, her efforts, and her pursuits in concrete life. So in this sense, religious background is only a superficial means to distinguish between the two, not the essence.

Howards End by E. M. Forster

Howards End - (Illustrated) - Kindle edition by Forster, E. M.. Literature  & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Howards End is a humanist work with female protagonists to explore the themes of connection and freedom. It explores the political, economic, class, gender and cultural issues of British society in the early 20th century. It has its specific character depiction, besides paying attention to the emotions of the Schlegel sisters, it pays more attention to the family and the view of money and interests, revealing the huge social inequality caused by the widening gap between the rich and the poor. This novel describes the relationships and entanglements between three families from different social levels, showing the status of class struggle in Britain at that time.

The Schlegel sisters, who represent the spirit and culture of the upper middle class in Britain, and the Wilcox family, who represent the same class in their practical, imaginative and arrogant ways, as well as the complex relationship between the upper middle class and the lower middle class in Britain. No matter the main characters’ detailed psychological narration or the few words of minor characters, Forster vividly depicts the mentality of all kinds of characters under the social conditions at that time. The Wilkes family from the upper classes was cold and hypocritical; the Bast family from the lower classes struggled to make ends meet and could not pursue their own ideals.

The middle class Schlegel sisters were privileged, but were deeply influenced by the democratic and liberal ideas of the time. Among them, the elder Margaret hoped that understanding and tolerance would bring people from all walks of life together. Her sister Helen, on the other hand, was full of sympathy for the lower classes and made no secret of her disdain for the upper classes. Howards End is the country home of Henry Wilcox, the hero of the novel. Henry’s ex-wife, Ruth, often talks about the home she loves to Margaret Schlegel, their accidental friend.

She even wrote a note to give it to Margaret before she died, and the Henry family, surprised and hurt by this, tore it up. Margaret then missed out on Howards End several times. Helen had an affair with Leonard Bast, and the children of a man and woman from different classes, equally despised by the upper classes, inherited Howards End and represented a new force in England. In Howards End, the protagonist Margaret reflects the social ideal of the author Forster. By means of symbolism, the author proposes that spiritual and material things should be connected.

Only by joining together, the symbol of The United Kingdom, “Howards End” can be saved. Howards End is a symbol of family, and Margaret’s visit to Howards end is also a cultural journey to find her roots. Howards End presents all kinds of social contradictions faced by the British society under the impact of industrialization and mechanical civilization in the early 20th century. The novel revolves around the complex relationship between the Howard manor and three characters of different classes, realizing the unity of material ecology and spiritual ecology.

In his novels, Forster praised nature, reflected on the relationship between man and nature, and expressed the survival thoughts of integrating into nature and returning to nature. This reflects the author’s creative and forward-looking green thinking, humanistic spirit and modernist spirit, and has some enlightening significance to the goal of building a harmonious society. The narrative modes and techniques used in the novel also influenced the modernist novels and inspired the writers of modernist novels to continue their pursuit and exploration of artistic truth. Through Howards End, Forster arouses the British people’s thinking about modern civilization and traditional culture, and urges them to re-examine the conflict and integration of different cultural identities and different classes.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

janeeyre_charlottebronteAs it seemed to Jane Eyre, she would never be equal to her cousins, neither in status nor in physical appearance. From all angles, she was just a plain orphan, whom Mrs. Reed kept under her care only at the request of her late husband, Jane’s uncle. Constantly chided, blamed for things outside of her control, or treated like a pest, Jane’s early life was not easy.

Before long, she was sent to Lowood, a boarding school for orphaned girls, where she experienced a whole new life, though not necessarily better than her former years. She no longer had any sort of family to return home and the living conditions at Lowood were not any to be rewarded. Her eight years as a pupil did not end, however, as she continued on to become a teacher, and eventually sought a governess position elsewhere in England.

That brings Jane to the center of her story: Rochester Hall, with the stern-faced master, elderly housekeeper, spoiled French pupil, and the mystery within plaguing its halls. Before long, Jane’s governess position becomes more complicated, as she deals with Mr. Rochester. To tell you what happens from there, I would be ruining the story. But this is not even half of the story yet, as Jane embarks on a sort of journey that changes her life. That sounds extremely cliché, but it’s what happens. The events Jane experiences are so extraordinary that they do not seem realistic, but at the same time, I loved the ending.

My favorite part of this novel was the blunt way everything was depicted. Though disguised in flowery, 19th century English, Jane is quite to the point about everything she notices, and Bronte’s storytelling truly draws the reader in. Admittedly, it took me a while to read the novel because adjusting to the older style of English was difficult, but I could not have been happier to finish the book!

– Leila S., 11th grade

Jane Eyre, both the novel and its numerous television and film adaptations, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library