Some Observations About Jane Eyre and North and South Through Their Opening Chapters

First, it is important to note that North and Sound is written in the third person omniscient point of view. All characters are addressed by their names but we gain particular insight into the thoughts of Margaret Hale. This is notably different from the perspective seen in Jane Eyre, which is narrated in the first person. In addition, the way in which the books open and thrust readers into the narrative is markedly different: Jane Eyre opens with an introspective description of her day up until that point and her current situation at Gateshead; North and South however opens with dialogue as a way of introducing two characters at once. The novel also includes short titles and quotes underneath the chapter designations that give each chapter an episodic feel and suggest a theme or tone for the following chapter. North and South also features great moments of satire, which when provided in the third person omniscient perspective, add a humorous matter-of-factness to the statements. For instance, when describing Mrs. Hale’s reasons behind not attending the wedding, the narrator states that “As [Mr. Hale] had no money to equip his wife afresh, from head to toe, she would not show herself at her only sister’s only child’s wedding” (15). This kind of narration allows for the addition of opinions into the narrative; in North and South, these opinions are often related to the disdain of particular characters’ beliefs or lifestyles, as seen (for the most part) by Margaret’s character.

Finally, one notable similarity seen in North and South, as it relates in Jane Eyre, is the distinction made between wilderness and impropriety, and refinement through education. The narrator remarks that Margaret was “brought, all untamed from the forest, to share the home, the play, and the lessons of her cousin Edith” (8). Once again we see a protagonist that is softened and refined in a place outside of her home and is placed, at least as a child, in another class in order to escape the “forest,” the wilderness, that might otherwise influence her.

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