How do Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ use ‘The second self’ as a narrative device to represent moral responsibility
The Victorian Era was a time of rapid change and constant development. Advancements in travel and communication were in abundance, with the growth of railways, whilst new forms of communication, such as the Post and the electric telegraph, became essential. Victorian cul michael kors handbags ture was flourishing via new concepts and inventions, as well as a thriving artistic and literary scene. The first public library was opened in 1851, benchmarking the rise of the novel and growth in literary interest.
These developments were certainly daunting for the general public. As this relentless change in Victorian culture took its toll, a disconcertion spread amongst many. Prior to the revolution, the world may have appeared boundless. But with each new development, the world became less infinite. This is perhaps one explanation for the increasing interest in the These developments continued into the late nineteenth century, with the introduction of the first Kodak camera in 1888.
In this, Anthony Wood observes the introduction of a new type of literature, remarking that was the title that Samuel Smiles gave to the book that he published in 1859 [ he spoke for the people of his time. spirit of self help he wrote, the root of all genuine growth in the individual. Introspection appeared to be a theme within Victorian literature. The changes in law meant the individual gained more legal rights, many of which were innovative in terms of ethicality. The Mines Act and The Factory Act were implemented for the protection of children, The Education Act made school compulsory for children between five and ten, and the abolishment of public hanging, the last of which was in 1868, highlighted once more that the Victorians were developing their moral principles.
Movement English artistic movement of the late 19th century, dedicated to the doctrine of aestheticism or for art sake that is, art as a self sufficient entity concerned solely with beauty. Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre was first published in 1847, prior to the Aesthetic Movement, the novel denotes a consistent in beauty. Perhaps it could be said that this anticipates the emergence of the Aesthetic Movement, of which Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray (published in 1890) is firmly associated. The Picture of Dorian Gray features many beautiful descriptions that illustrate the fascination with materialism, such as, the corner of the divan of Persian saddle bags on which he was lying [ Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey sweet and the honey coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flame like as theirs. appears as though Art and Literature drew a parallel within this era, regularly influencing one another. As Elizabeth Prettejohn notes, subject matter was a prolific source of innovation in Victorian painting. This development is evident within The Picture of Dorian Gray, as the main narrative concept is a cursed portrait. Whilst researching these two texts, there appeared to be a constant division between the beauty and beauty. This distinction is epitomized by Prettejohn comment on John Ruskin analysis of Jan Van Eyck painting The Arnolfini Portrait; looking, we cannot rely on our preconceptions, but rid our minds of what we thought we should find; then we might see something else, something different.  This observation exemplifies one of the ways in which nineteenth century literature could be read.
Arguably, both Oscar Wilde and Charlotte Bronte used this distinction between beauty and beauty as an anchor to their narrative. By creating or second self they magnify the difference between intrinsic desire and moral responsibility, which, as previously stipulated, was a resounding theme of the Victorian era. Both Jane and Dorian are strong characters, and though their plights are quite different, they learn similar lessons on their journey. The consistently allegorical style of each text allows the readers to consider moral responsibility.
Jane VS Dorian our initial introduction to Jane, we find that she is a passionate and spirited child. This is magnified by the phlegmatic adults around her, a disposition she later acquires. The tribulation Jane experiences is characterised by various themes such as social class, religion, nature, gender and moral responsibility. The conflicts Jane encounters are then metaphorically represented through a series of motifs such as Bertha Mason, The Supernatural and The Red Room. These motifs amplify the distinctions between her passion and plainness. Mrs Reed, Mr Brocklehurst and Miss Temple, Jane develops the ability to repress her passions.
Throughout the novel, we are offered a series of mirror images of Jane character, with one of the most pivotal being Helen Burns. Prior to the interrogation Jane receives from Mr Brocklehurst, there are various references to Jane wickedness, in which Mr Brocklehurst scrutinises her, apparent in the passage sight so sad as that of a naughty child [ especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death? In contrast to Jane, Helen represents what Mr Brocklehurst might constitute as a child, as her consistent faith in religion creates an angelic persona. Despite Helen tendencies, she eventually dies of consumption. This is significant, as it echoes Jane original answer to Mr Brocklehurst during the interrogation, must keep in good health and not die. By placing these two characters next to one another, Bronte is offering the reader the two sides of Jane. Helen death represents how Jane life might have been if she allowed herself to be debilitated her passions.
Robert Keefe comments on the significance of Helen Burn death, remarking that Burns is of course the most important one of those who die at Lowood [ certainly the little girl is a saint, but that very sainthood is an insidious threat to Jane. For Helen Burns is a creature in love with death. 
Other examples of this are Blanche Ingram and Bertha Mason. Blanche Ingram represents the woman Jane is unable to be, due to social class, whereas Bertha Mason represents the woman Jane might become, if she were to give in to her passion. There are various descriptions of Jane that are later used to describe Bertha such as within Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray, we are offered various metaphors that represent Dorian second self, the most prominent of those being the cursed painting. Equally, Wilde offers the reader various themes, such as the purpose of art, age and beauty, influence and moral responsibility. These themes are also epitomized by a series of motifs, such as The Painting, James Vane and The Opium Dens. In this novel we are presented with a paradox; the pursuit of pleasure is desirable in its own right, but the sinful repercussions of this pursuit are not. In contrast to Jane, Dorian initial disposition is a rather naive and innocent one. Like Jane, Dorian finds himself influenced by those around him. However, Dorian is influenced into pursuing pleasure rather than pursuing
This influence resonates throughout Dorian relationship with Henry. Here is an example of Henry influential statements, like persons better than principles and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world. Throughout both texts we see a conflict between morality and the self. The distinction to be made is that the liberation the painting has brought for Dorian has in turn allowed him to act out sins without consequence, whereas, the restrictions of Victorian society prevent Jane from liberation, as she grows very aware of consequence.
Similarly to Bronte, Wilde uses a death to magnify the repercussions of influence. Prior to Dorian relationship with Sibyl Vane, Henry advises Dorian that he should never get married; marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed. Despite Henry control over Dorian, he continues to pursue Sibyl Vane. At this point, the reader is still able to engage with the original naive Dorian, as he has become quickly enamoured with a woman who clearly is not suited to his social status. Dorian finds himself taken with Sibyl Vane ability to evoke the great heroines of the world in one. Dorian fascination with her multi dimensional character prevent him seeing who she really is. This is a pattern we find throughout the narrative. The death of Sibyl Vane is pivotal, as the reader gets an insight to how Dorian persona is beginning to reverse. This is also made evident by the changes within the portrait. Each protagonist has found themselves influenced into this change. Both Jane and Dorian begin at vastly different sides of the spectrum, yet somehow share similarities in regard to introspection. Bronte and Wilde have used both their strong characters to question what it is to be moral or The influences Jane and Dorian undertake also pose the question of who is truly responsible for this change.
For example, with the introduction of Mr Rochester, we see a re emergence of Jane self at Thornfield. It is clear that Jane intrinsic desire is to love Mr Rochester, however, this conflicts with her social status and the persona she has been taught to maintain. Michael Wheeler comments o michael kors handbags n this, observing that on the other hand, initiates dialogues with Jane which are catechistic in form and yet playful in tone. He is searching for the unique, natural Jane, the Jane who has been hem michael kors handbags med in hitherto by laws and conventions. this, we can see that Rochester represents another influence Jane. He is drawing upon her passions, which were traditionally deemed as unacceptable, thus extenuating the conflict between the Jane and the fabricated version of herself. This point is elucidated by Jane herself, when she says rose; I dressed myself with care: obliged to be plain for I had no article of attire that was not made with extreme simplicity I was still by nature solicitous to be neat. The use of the term suggests an involuntary action, thus expressing Jane desire to be her self. both novels hold a pattern. In the beginning, both protagonists find themselves influenced out of the michael kors handbags ir natural demeanour, causing them to be untrue to their selves (as previously elucidated, Jane and Dorian begin as binary opposites.) Eventually, they revert back from their second self, to their self. This is evident within Jane Eyre when St John Rivers offers Jane marriage. Unlike Mr Rochester, St John does not aspire to discover Jane passion, but appreciates the self she has created; or well, she would always be plain. The grace and harmony of beauty are quite wanting in those features. For Jane, settling for a man she does not love is not an acceptable moral action to take, despite how appropriate the offer may be. St John pious nature duplicates that of Helen Burns. This parallel confirms for Jane that she should be true to her intrinsic desire.
The closest equivalent we can draw in Wilde work is Dorian feeble attempt to be to Hetty Merton by not breaking her heart. Henry explains how Dorian even this pursuit was selfish; should think the novelty of the emotion must have given you a thrill of real pleasure, Dorian, but I can finish your idyl for you. You gave her good advice, and broke her heart. That was the beginning of your reformation. This illustrates that Dorian motives with Hetty Merton were still selfish in principle.
Both narratives feature a final Dorian eventually destroys the painting which in turn destroys him, whereas, Jane and Rochester are able to fulfil their love for one another. It seems as though both conclusions are just endings. In other words, both characters deserved their final fate.
Over all, these texts maintain a similar plot structure. The use of death in both novels mimics the gothic style, which was prominent throughout nineteenth century literature.
Due to the social contexts in which these novels were written, they are vastly different in terms on content and style. John Sutherland comments on gender in writing, that writing [ was unique in Victorian society in being a public and professional activity open both to middle class men and middle class women on more or less equal terms. Nevertheless, given the social role forced on them, women naturally tended to be more of a modestly submerged component than their male partners. is no coincidence that Charlotte Bronte narrative features a woman striving to be independent and true to her intrinsic desire and Oscar Wilde features a man who, to some extent, has become power mad. Both these narratives offer a social commentary on the patriarchy within Victorian society. As a modern reader, it is easy to omit the cultural significance in which these texts were written. Jane Eyre is typically interpreted as a feminist piece, though this may have not been Charlotte Bronte intention. Equally, The Picture of Dorian Gray is renowned for its homoerotic themes and is often used in Queer theory.