Classical Literature Essay In the classic novels Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and My Antonia the author's magically wrote how the main characters were products against the society that they each lived in. Every character in each of these novels was the embodiment that we all would have wished to be in their time. As well as showing the characters own social stature the authors also gave each of them distinct qualities and characteristics. Three such characters that bring life to these three classical pieces are Jane Eyre, Antonia Shimerda, and Elizabeth Bennet. All three of these woman display strength, integrity, and belief in ones self; and here is how they accomplish all that.
In Charlotte Bronte's famous book Jane Eyre, a girl was portrayed who was growing up around the turn of the nineteenth century. Jane was an orphan with no family or friends. She was mistreated and misunderstood by the people around her.
Jane seemed doomed for a life of failure, until she decided to stand up for her rights and fight for the life of success she deserved. Jane seemed that she would go through her life without accomplishing anything for herself, until she decided to take fate into her own hands and fight for the life that she deserved. Right off the bat we can see the vast difference of Jane Eyre's life compared to Antonia Shimerda's neighboring Black Hawk girls. In My Antonia the three sister's had life much easier. One such passage depicts this very distinctly: "Girls who had to walk more than half a mile were pitied. Physical exercise was thought rather inelegant for the daughters of well-to-do families. Some of the high school girls were jolly and pretty, but they stayed indoors in winter because of the cold, and in the summer because of the heat." Jane's strong will led her to do many things for herself. One such was educating and starting to read as a little girl in the Reeds' house. For example, before she and John got into a fight, Jane sat down by the window and began reading. "I returned to my book - Bewick's History of British Birds: the letter-press thereof I cared little for, generally speaking..." Another example of how Jane read as a child was when she read a book of Arabian tales after she got in a fight with Mrs. Reed. "I took a book--some Arabian tales; I sat down and endeavored to read." Charlotte Bronte shows that Jane represents a modern woman in another way, her independence and ability to work for a living. Unlike other women, she does not depend on a man to provide shelter and food for her. For example, Jane refuses to live under the orders of Rev. Brocklehurst at Lowood and applies for a new job. Jane puts out an advertisement in the newspaper and acquires a new teaching position. When Jane is hoping that Mrs. Fairfax won't be like Mrs. Reed, she reminds herself that she is an independent, modern woman and that she doesn't have to stay. "I pray God Mrs. Fairfax may not turn out a second Mrs. Reed; but if she does, I am not bound to stay with her: let the worse come to the worst, I can advertise again." This shows that Jane can make her own path in life and is able to take care of herself despite what happens. Her place in her society is that of a strong and spirited woman, who does not care about money and reputations, but just wants to be happy.
Antonia Shimerda was a young Bohemian girl who came with her family to Nebraska to live and achieve wealth in the late eighteen hundreds. It wasn't at all paradise as they had thought it would be. During the Shimerda's hardship, Antonia's father soon dies, leaving the family to fend for themselves. Ambrosch steps in, with the help of his sister Antonia, to tend to the fields and farmland. Antonia soon finds herself plowing fields and working as hard as any man in the fields. Not only is Antonia soon plowing the fields on the family land but also is "hired out like a man, she went from farm to farm, binding sheaves or working with the threshers. The farmers liked her and were kind to her; said they would rather have her for a hand than Ambrosch." This must have been an extreme compliment to Antonia considering the fact that women weren't necessarily looked well upon in this era of American history. Grandfather was also very pleased with Antonia. When we complained of her, he only smiled and said, "She will help some fellow get ahead in the world." All in all, her tough and masculine behavior won her much respect in the society of farmers that she lived in. It showed both her faith in herself and the love of the land; both of these attributes men could see in themselves so in turn accepted Antonia into their "ÃÂcircle of trust.' As one of the educated and intelligent women emerging from this era, Elizabeth Bennet, was the balance between reason and emotion in a woman, making her a truly admirable and attractive character in Pride and Prejudice. Her strength is mostly evidently shown in her rejections of the proposals of Mr. Collins and Darcy. Unlike her mother, she does not base her loves on the financial security they will give her, and has the strength to reject them. This is evident in her rejection of Darcy's first proposal, when she shows a passionate strength in her anger because of her belief that he has willfully prevented Jane and Bingley's marriage and wronged Wickham by refusing to grant him the property that Mr. Darcy gave to him. Elizabeth's strength puts her against society, as Elizabeth suspects she is "the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with such dignified impertinence". This also show her likeness to Jane Eyre in not marrying to money but marrying out of love. She is also shown as a rebel against ideas of her society when Lady Catherine pays a visit to her to ensure that she does not marry Darcy. Elizabeth also expresses her rebellion against society by taking little trouble to become accomplished, as women were expected to do then. She spends little time to becoming skilled at playing the piano, and has not learned to draw at all. Elizabeth's intelligence reveals her to be one of the few reasoning characters of the novel, a sensible individual in a society largely composed of fools. She is one of the few who thinks for herself and does not care what others' think of her.
In conclusion the author's let us see both the perspective of the free willed woman and the hardships that she had to face by going against the everyday dull sludge that society posts on them. Luckily in our society today women have just begun to go out and fend for themselves in this dog-eat-dog world. These three women should be examples to women everywhere because of the tough choices and criticism that they endured in their lives, and the attitude that they gave the world in turn.