A Comparison of Jane Eyre and Lin Daiyu in the View of Philosophy and Feminism
Submitted By iJulian
A Comparison of Jane Eyre and Lin Daiyu in the View of Philosophy and Feminism
1.1 A Brief Introduction of Jane Eyre and Lin Daiyu “A Dream of Red Mansions” is one of the most outstanding works of China’s classic novels of realism. It bases on the background of Jia, Shi, Wang, Xue four families’ rising and falling, with the clue of the love tragedy of Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu. It truly and artistically reflects the historically declining trend of China’s feudal society. “A Dream of Red Mansions” can also be described as “Girls’ Country”, which is the anthem of female, but also is the threnody of women. The heroine Lin Daiyu, Annatto Fairy, wants to repay the goodness of God Shen Yin, taking her lifetime of tears in exchange for his being saved. Her rebellious sprit and solitary character, makes her as a lotus opening at a secluded place, clinging to her own pureness—for pure you came and pure shall go. She is sentimental and unfortunate, and is doomed to being lonely and pathetical .She, Lin Daiyu, lives under another’s house—Rong mansion, Grand View Garden, and she has no one to complain her sadness to. She is “Yea to the very end of heaven, Where I could find a fragrant grave!” in frustration, “What time the third moon comes, the scented nests have been already built. And on the beams the swallows perch, excessive spiritless and staid” in sorrow, and finally ends up with the sadness of “Flowers fade and maidens die; and of either naught any more is known” (Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang, 2003: 213) “Jane Eyre” shapes an image of a woman, who fights bravely for equality and love in the Male-centered society, in the history of English literature. Jane looks plain, and she is an orphan living with her aunt at an early age. She grows up in church schools, suffering abuse and discrimination. After graduating from the charity school, she comes to Rochester’s home as a tutor, and falls in love with Rochester. However, when she finds that Mr. Rochester has married, she decides to leave the home of Rochester. At the end of the novel, Jane comes into a fortune and Rochester’s house is destroyed in a fire, at the same time his wife has died and he becomes blind. Jane comes back to Rochester for her true love. Jane is not beautiful, but she never gives up the pursuit of beauty; she is poor, but has a strong self-esteem; she is brought up lacking of love, but her heart is still eager to love others, and does not give up the pursuit of love; She suffers bullying from childhood, but has the courage to resist and to show herself unyielding character. The author Charlotte Bronte shapes the heroine’s characters from her own understanding of the truth and beauty of life, making Jane Eyre to be a representative image of a new woman in literature. Lin Daiyu and Jane Eyre are two noticeable images of women in Chinese and Western literature. Daiyu’s image is deeply rooted in Chinese readers’ hearts, and her unremitting pursuit of love, extraordinary talent, as well as the suffering experience gives readers a shock in their minds. Jane Eyre affects countless readers in the United Kingdom as well as all around the world. Lin Daiyu and Jane Eyre reflect many basic characteristics of Chinese and Western cultures. This thesis will put the two character images into the view of Eastern and Western cultures to have a more comprehensive understanding of the significance of these two works, to reach a more in-depth perspective of the personality of the two heroines and also to promote the complementarities, dialogues and exchanges of Eastern and Western cultures.
1.2 Literature Review and the Focus of the Thesis Since 1980s, with the increasing of cultural exchanges between Chinese and Western literature, more and more people have made a deep study of the two works “A Dream of Red Mansions” and “Jane Eyre” and the two characters Daiyu and Jane, and many achievements have been made. Looking back at those achievements of the past studies of such topics to make a literature review, most of those theses generally focus on three aspects: Firstly, it is through an intensive reading the two novels to make a comparative study of the two characters. Those theses, through two of heroines’ life experience and sufferings, compare the similarities and differences of the two characters’ charismatic personalities and rebellious spirits. As Zhao Li said that they both were orphans, both experienced the suffering of living with others’ face. This thesis is mainly to discuss about two personal life experiences, charismatic, rebellious spirit and love outcome. The thesis also criticized the Bao-Dai’s love is based on “preliminary democratic thought” point of view. And Cao Xueqin’s disillusionment and Charlotte Bronte’s fighting spirit are the root causes of the differences. Zhang Qiyun and Li Xiaohui said that the two heroines “A Dream of Red Mansion” and “Jane Eyre” had many similarities. The two women were brave to pursue genuine love, human dignity, independence and equality personality. In this thesis, it showed out the heroines’ awakening female consciousness in the pursuit of love which is including the extent and the depth of the awakening of female consciousness, women’s pursuit of an independent personality and a level of freedom and equality through the character and discourse analysis Secondly, it is from the perspective of external studies to explore the two heroines’ fates and their causes. Research in this area is relatively few. And in recent years it begins to draw people’s attention. As Xue Liping said that it is different cultural elements that lead to the two women’s different fates, In some way, culture influences the formation of one’s personality．A positive personality accelerates one’s development，while a negative one may impede one’s development. Peng Hongwei said that Lin Daiyu and Jane Eyre were quite similar in the life experience, love dedication and rebellious spirits; but their attitudes towards equality have great differences which caused the different ultimate fate of two characters. Xu Qi said that Jane Eyre and Lin Daiyu both lost their parents when they were very young and were sent to their uncles’ home, depending on their relatives for a living. Similar life experience cultivated the same character—independence and rebellion. However, this character didn’t bring them the same destiny. And it also gave the true reasons which influence the formation of their character and their different destiny. Thirdly, it is about the author’s creative ideas and means of artistic expression. Most of the studies are based on the author self ‘s view to discuss the great contrast on the characters’ image and meaning due to psychological ,cultural and gender differences of the authors .Such a study, one of the most representative results is Pan Guilin and Gao Xuexiao. The thesis believed that the aesthetic contrast between different art imageries is closely related with each author’s sexual distinction and visual angles. The observer outside the female subject and the inspector inside all fabricate the female imageries under their own culture conceptions. Their description or expression endows their images dramatic difference in disposition and role fate .Under the gender narrative function, Lin Daiyu and Jane Eyre ,departed from the society reigned by male, have reached poles apart：the reality of destroying as depends on others ,and the conceit of establishing female authority instead of male rules. As a whole, most of past researches focus on the similarities of the two heroines instead of the difference between the two heroines, particularly in the aspect, which is based on eastern and western culture, to promote the dialogue and exchange of two great cultures. For this reason, this thesis will put the images—Lin Daiyu and Jane Eyre into the viewpoint of philosophy and feminism with a background of eastern and western culture to discuss. The main body of the thesis has two parts. The first part is to explore the repercussion of Chinese and western philosophy on the two heroines: Daiyu’s image reflects the Chinese philosophy “Benevolence”— the value orientation is based on ethics and community cares; Jane Eyre’s image reflects the western philosophy “Seeking Truth” based on life meaning and individual care. The second part is to study the reflection of Feminism on the two heroines: Charlotte. Bronte used Jane Eyre’s image to express feminism thought of confronting male supremacy culture, advocating women should achieve “self-support” by “self-reliance”, and intentionally satirize male supremacy culture through portraying the heroine Jane Eyre with a ordinary appearance and to express her feminism thought for women’s equal personality in marriage; Cao Xueqin, in the image of Lin Daiyu, shows out the most progressive thinking of Feminism at his time but he doesn’t completely get rid of male supremacy culture. He praises woman’s virtuous character, and sympathizes with the woman’s tragic fate, but does not think about the woman’s “self-reliance” and “independence” issues. And he even intentionally makes a description of women’s “beauty” to cater to the old society’s marriage pattern— talented scholars and lovely ladies, then this love story ending with a tragedy.
II. The Repercussion of Chinese and Western Philosophy on Jane Eyre and Lin Daiyu Literature classics will contain a wealth of philosophical thinking. The impacts of philosophy on the writers and the images’ characteristics are either explicitly or implicitly demonstrated in the novel. From a philosophical point of view to look for the cause, we can find that Jane Eyre and Lin Daiyu have similar rebellious characters, but have different love stories, similar ideals, but pursue it by different ways, similar life experiences, but different outcome of life. All of those reflect that the differences of Chinese and Western philosophy lead to the characters’ different personalities, outlook and destinies.
2.1 Fundamental difference on Value Orientation of Chinese and Western Philosophy Whether Chinese philosophy or Western philosophy; in essence, is the accumulation of human civilization and culture. But people from different places may have different culture and civilization then they will have different values. Their differences lie in their respective goal of pursuit and the ways of expression. Philosophy is all-inclusive, and there are many differences between Chinese and Western philosophy, but fundamentally speaking, the most basic difference between Chinese and Western philosophy is that: in the eyes of Westerners, philosophy is a way to pursue “truth” which is often expressed as “individual value”, “individual willing” and “individual existence”; In Chinese eyes, philosophy is more focused on “goodness” and to practice “good deeds” which is often expressed by valuing the “interpersonal relationship” and “external will”. From the image of Jane, we can strikingly appreciate a kind of spirit that is overcoming all of the external obstacles, desperately and recklessly, to achieve self-value and self-esteem; as for Daiyu, we can obviously realize that she is in a dilemma of “external demands” and “self-pursuit” when she faces the contradiction she is force to yield to the “fate” which, actually, means to bow to the social reality and the social values. In traditional Chinese philosophy, the main ideas emphasize a person’s self-cultivation of his own moral integrity, focus on the intrinsic value of life and advocate the goodness of human nature. So, to some extent, Chinese philosophy treats the ethics as the value of human life which can also be called “ethics-based moral philosophy”. These have been clearly reflected by Confucian thought in China. The code of Confucianism is “Ren” and “Li”. “Ren” means benevolence and “Li” means norms of behavior. One is coming from human being’s inside word and the other is a code for human’s behavior. However, subsequently, the Confucianism has been adopted by feudal ruling class, and they pay great attention to the “Li” in order to set up a standard for people’s behavior. “Ren” is misunderstood as following the standard— “Li”. So human’s “individual wills” have been put into the frame of “Li”. So there is no choice for the heroine Lin Daiyu who undertakes the heavy cross—the main principles of social order. As to western philosophy, its main ideas are the pursuit of “truth”. In ancient Greece, the word “philosophy” comes from the word “philosophia” which means “the knowledge lover”. For western philosophy, it emphasizes on finding out the truth and how to put it into practice, so to them the meaning of life is how to achieve “individual value”. This is completely different from Chinese philosophy which considers that the goal is achieved by the harmonious interpersonal relationship and neglects the human self’s “individual value”. And after the Renaissance, “Everyone is equal before God”, “Everyone is equal before the law” and “Priority to human, priority to individual” had been put into practice, which, at the spiritual and cultural level, more strengthened on the importance of the individual consciousness and personal search for truth. So, Western philosophy is concerned more about the relationship between man and the truth, but relationships between each person. It is a progress to explore the truth and knowledge and then to achieve “individual value”. Goethe’s philosophical poetic drama “Faust” is the best interpretation for the western philosophy of “truth” and “self-realization”. The whole life of Faust is a progress of the pursuit of self-reliance and the pursuit of truth. And Jane Eyre is the best example of Faustian Spirit, who fought for herself in her whole life.
2.2 The Western Philosophy in the Image of Jane Eyre Jane Eyre is an image of women who sticks to achieve self-value. In her mind, the “truth” can be considered as an integration of the genuine love, the true fact and her true self. She longed for freedom and independence, was eager to equality and desired to get true love without losing dignity. Her nature embodied in self-recognition and in pursuit of self-realization. It is the urgent desire to achieve self-value, making her desperately resist the cruel environment. She never cares about how others think about her, and she never follows the wishes of others but chooses her own path in life; once her goal is set up she will pursue it and there is no obstruction and temptation and no one can make her change her direction. Whether in times of difficulty or adversity, she displayed to the world a true self. Jane Eyre lives with her aunt at an early age. Her cousin bullies and humiliates her; her aunt maligns her, and even the servants make fun of her. All of these make her feel that she is putting down and there is no future. So she insists to be send to charity school. In the fourth Chapter, Jane Eyre and Mrs. Reed have a conflict, Mrs. Reed thinks that to be an aunt she can scare Jane easily, on the contrary Jane Eyre sharply scolds her, “You have no pity. I should remember you thrust back—roughly and violently thrust me back—into the red-room, and lock me up there, to my dying day; though I was in agony; though I cried out, while suffocating with distress... People think you a good woman, but you are bad, hard-hearted. You are deceitful!”(Charlotte Bronte, 2004), at that time Mrs. Reed actually is afraid. She bravely fights for herself because she knows that she has the same right as others, and she also knows that she should be respect as a normal person even if the “enemy” is her aunt. While to Bessie, Jane shows her love to her because of Bessie’s kind hearted and caring for her. Jane was an orphan who is bravely to love and hate, and in her mind, she knows clearly what is right and what is wrong. And later she is sent to Lowood Institution, where students are suffering from cold and hunger, and also suffering from the punishment. But with the harsh external conditions, Jane never loses her personality and bends her knees to difficulties, even though she is still a child, unaccompanied. “Into the school will be a radical change, it will be a long-distance travel, and apart from Gateshead will start a completely new life.” Subsequently, Jane stayed in the Lowood charity school for eight years—six years as a student, and two years as a teacher. She overcome various hardships in Lowood, and when her teacher Miss Temple leaves the school, Jane Eyre suddenly finds that she is tired of the school life
I am tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon. I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer;” Then went to Thornfield Manor, 70 miles off school, to be a tutor. “The real world was wide and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had courage to go forth into its expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils. (Charlotte Bronte, 2004:117)
When Jane comes into Thornfield, her life meets a turn point. She is bound into a whirlpool of emotions, and also is destined to find her true love. Jane has never looked down herself for her poor background, short stature and plain face; On the contrary, she is to live optimistically and lives at ease. In some sense, she lives with dignity. She is to pursue the equality in spirit, even when she faces Mr. Rochester who is wealthy, she still preserves her self-respect. When she falls in love with Rochester, she does not flinch, nor does escape, but frankly expresses her love, because she believes that the true love is based on the equality of spirit, and exists at the heart inside. It can be seen that Jane had a great courage to break through the secular mind, and a brave heart to pursue the equality. It is because of Jane’s purity, integrity and self-respect deeply attracted Rochester. Rochester treats Jane as a bosom friend and falls in love with her; Jane also overcomes the barriers of money, ignores the prejudices and listens to her own heart to choose their genuine love. When Rochester marries Miss Ingram, Jane Eyre says angrily,
Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? And can beat to have my morsel of bread snatched from my cup?...it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal—as we are!(Charlotte Bronte, 2004:373)
In this scene, Jane Eyre tries to defend her dignity and her love. She fights for herself and fights for the love she cherishes. She will not just choose her dignity to lose the love; she also will not choose to win the love to lose her dignity. What she wants is that loving with dignity. So she declares the war to Rochester and Miss Ingram who is far more superior to her. Because in her mind，love is an equal connection of two hearts. Jane is bold enough to challenge society and prejudices. She neglects the great social status gap between Rochester and herself; she thinks love is not an exchange for wealth and power, but a kind of true feeling. To pursue the true love is a way to achieve “self-value” and to find out “true-self”. At last, Jane wins the competition with Miss Ingram. However, Jane Eyre does not succeed to become Rochester’s wife, because Rochester already has a wife, and she is still alive. Happiness suddenly went down the drain. The woman faces a huge challenge. At the end she chooses to leave. In fact, she can stay with Rochester, because Rochester has promised to be responsible for all her future living expenses. However, a heart filling with rebellious spirit, how could be such a strong woman like her will accept such a sympathy and pity? She resolutely leaves Thornfield, although she does not know where she can go, although she does not have much money, although she will face unforeseen difficulties, to defend for the “real-self” will, she makes the choice to leave Thornfield. Her choice won many people’s admiration. She rejected his love, to accept this love means abandoning personal dignity, and she refused to be a mistress. What she wants is a completely true love:
“I will keep the law given by god; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane and not mad—as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation...Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot” (Charlotte Bronte, 2004:385)
It is the “truth” that she must hold on. However, Jane leaves Rochester, which is not emotionally abandoned him; on the contrary, her love is just like a martyr, which intends to make sacrifices for ever. When she decides to leave Thornfield her rebellious spirit develops to the top point. Fundamentally, this was a best demonstration for her self-value maintaining. After Jane leaving Rochester, the cousin St. John proposes to her, but Jane understands that St. John is just pursuing the ideal goals and to obtain eternal salvation, he asking Jane to marry him only wants Jane to be his assistant, without the feeling of love. Although he is a handsome man, but Jane does not love him. She does not want to live with such a “cold-blooded” person together. Just under that circumstance she hears Rochester’s miserable and urgent cry —Jane! Jane! Jane! Jane. Jane responds immediately “there, sir there!”... “Where are you?” echo reverberating between the two hearts, Jane goes back to Rochester’s side, nothing can separate them anymore. Facing Miss Ingra’s provocation, Jane Eyre is fearless to fight back; facing the sudden appearance of “the madwoman in the attic” and Rochester’s promise, Jane is firmly to choose to leave; facing St. John’s proposing, Jane is categorical to reject; facing home destroyed and disabled Rochester, Jane chooses to return to Rochester’s side. Jane’s various brave behaviors are driven by the same force—that is the desire to achieve self-value. She never cares about how others think about her and never follows the wishes of others to choose her own path in life; once she sets her goal to pursue there is no obstruction and temptation can make her change her direction. Whether in times of difficulty or adversity, she displayed to the world a true self. Such strength of Jane’s character just demonstrates the foundation of western philosophy—the pursuit of “truth” is a progress of achievement of “self-value”.
2.3 The Chinese Philosophy in the Image of Lin Daiyu On the contrary, Lin Daiyu, her whole life is in the dilemma of the “external demands” and “self-pursuit”. When she faces the contradiction she chooses to yield to the “fate” which, actually, means to bow to the social reality and the social value. Chinese philosophy is to pursue the high spirit state of “mercifulness”, and it has two parts one is “a kind heart” the other is “follow the behavior standard”. So Lin Daiyu is just like a free and unrestricted bird which desires to fly, but also cherish its feathers for fearing damaged by the outside dangers, and finally it died in the cage. She desires to be free, but she is also chained by the traditional values and the traditional “codes of behavior”. She could not be like as Jane who is brave to rebel against the old society and fight for herself. She must care of her conducts, and she has been chained by an invisible net. Daiyu’s life is doomed to be a tragedy. Lin Daiyu is emotional and sensitive which strengthens the sad atmosphere of her story. What she most admires is maternal love. In Chapter forty-night, Mrs. Xing’s aunt and Li Wan’s aunt take their daughters to Rong Mansion, Daiyu is greatly affected: Daiyu, though when they first met, continued in cheerful spirits, could not again, when the recollection afterwards flashed through her mind that one and all had their relatives, and that she alone had not a soul to rely upon, avoid withdrawing out of the way, and giving vent to tears.(Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang, 2003)These are Lin Daiyu’s true feelings when she stays alone. But when she stays with others, she will hide her emotional feelings considering “codes of behavior”. In the first Chapter, Daiyu comes into the Rong Mansion, which has revealed the Confucian code of ethics such as “the three obediences and the four virtues” and “the three cardinal guides and the five constant virtues”. Lin Daiyu’s pursuit of love rebels against the feudal ethic code, but she is not a thorough rebel. In her mind, she is always painfully struggling with the old society’s ethics. One side is her true love and the other side is the “codes of behavior” which is her respected etiquette. In fact, Daiyu knows well what is the obstacle of her marriage with Baoyu, in Chapter thirty-two “my father and mother departed life at an early period; and because I have, in spite of the secret engraved on my heart and imprinted on my bones, not a soul to act as a mentor to me” (Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang, 2003: 1475). In the old society, this issue of marriage should depend on the wills of the parents and the matchmakers, which is unable to be decided by them own. So Daiyu always worries about this and has no person to say about her sadness to, in Chapter eighty-two, Lin Daiyu heard the old woman’s mumble “such good looks—too good for anyone but Baoyu” which calls out her sadness:
My health’s poor and I’ve reached the age to marry, judging by Baoyu’s behavior, he isn’t interested in anyone else; but my grandmother and aunt haven’t yet indicated their preference, if only my parents were still alive, or had fixed this match in advanced! (Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang, 2003: 1487)
Then she flings herself listlessly down on her bed fully dressed, making a dream: Xifeng says to Daiyu that her father has been promoted to be the Grain Commissioner of Hubei and has taken another wife, a most suitable match. They don’t feel it would be right to leave Daiyu here, so they ask Mrs. Jia as go-between to arrange for her to marry a relative of her stepmother, a widower. Now they’ve sent to fetch Daiyu back, and the wedding will probably take place as soon as her get home (Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang, 2003). All these things happened in her dream are just those things that she is worried about. In the dream, we can obviously know that marriage at that time could not be decided by oneself. In Daiyu’s mind, she knows clearly if she does not follow the “codes of behavior”, she would not be considered as “a daughter of an illustrious family”. It is just like a chain bound with Daiyu so that she has to make her conducts meet the standards. In Chapter three, Daiyu just come to the Rong Mansion; Cao Xueqin portrays Lin Daiyu as a careful and discreet girl. First time when dowager lady Jia inquired of Daiyu what books she is reading, Daiyu said she have just begun reading the Four Books, and then When she knows that lady Jia doesn’t like girls to read books, she changes to say that she haven’t as yet read any books, as she have only been to school for a year; all she knows are simply a few characters. In the old society of China, there is a famous saying: “absence of talent in a woman is synonymous with virtue”. Daiyu more or less recognizes the thought, so when Baochai finds out that she stealthily reads “The Romance of the Western Chamber”, she feels shameful and recognizes wrong. Actually, in the last forty Chapters, Lin Daiyu shows up her recognition of the feudal ethics. In Chapter forty-five Daiyu says that Baochai always treats people with extreme consideration, but Daiyu imagines that she inwardly concealed some evil design. Yet ever since the day on which Baochai represented to Daiyu how unwholesome it is to read obscene books, she feels most grateful to Baichai. (Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang, 2003) In the old society, the value of Chinese philosophy is “advocating mercifulness”; it takes ethics and community care as direction. The image Daiyu embodies the value by her powerless actions. She could just have the rebellious spirit in her mind, and when faces the reality and the relations with other persons, she just reluctantly follows the social ethics, however, when she is alone, she always complains her misfortune and drops out her sad tears. She is just this kind of girl who is living in the contradiction and can not be like Jane, who not only rebels against in the spirit but also in the practice. So we can clearly notice that her tragedy love with Baoyu is just the production of Chinese philosophy of the feudal society.
III. The Feminism Reflected on the Two Images: Jane Eyre and Lin Daiyu Both “Jane Eyre” and “the Story of Red Mansion” are great works for authors to express the female consciousness. Females are the main characters in the two books; both of them represented the feminine literature of Chinese and western. But there is a great contrast on the describing way for female consciousness between them. Charlotte Bronte reveals feminism thoughts for rebelling against male supremacy culture through the portrayal of the image Jane Eyre, and intentionally satirizes the woman beauty in men’s eyes by describing Jane’s plain appearance to support the thoughts of equal personality and spirit-matched love model. Cao Xueqin, in the image of Lin Daiyu, reveals the most advanced thoughts of feminism at that time, but he still does not completely get rid of the male supremacy culture. He praises woman’s virtuous character, and he sympathizes with the woman’s tragic fate, but does not think about the woman’s “self-reliance” and “independence” issues. And he even intentionally makes a description of women’s “beauty” to cater to the old society’s marriage pattern—talented scholars and lovely ladies. But in the end, it is a love tragedy; it is a “when beloved is away, all will fade away” monody. The two authors’ different thoughts of feminism are embodied by the two female images so that the two heroines have a great difference in the living ways, personalities and naturalities: Jane achieves independent through herself struggling but Daiyu is lack of ability and condition to struggle for independent; Jane is plain, little and common but beautiful in spirit and Lin Daiyu is outstanding, talented and pretty.
3.1 Jane Eyre’s Independent Spirit Jane Eyre is a typical representative of the awakening female consciousness of the intellectual women. She has clear understanding and effective actions to pursue the independent character. Firstly, as for the relations between males and females, Jane is eager to pursue the equality of man and woman and independence. At that time lives in aunt Reed’s home, she struggles for the power of human and is brave to break the family hierarchy to abuse her aunt “you are bad, hard-hearted. You are deceitful”; In Lowood school, she tries her best to have her own rights “when we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should—so hard to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.”; In Thornfield, she struggles for being treated equally, she says to Rochester “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you, and full as much heart...we stood at God’s feet, equal—as we are!” (Charlotte Bronte, 2004:373) The female consciousness of pursuit of equality and independent is embodied completely by the image of Jane. In most of male-central literatures females were passive, closed and never opened their minds to express their love feelings. However, Jane’s love with Rochester is equal, she says to him that: she doesn’t want a stranger—alien, and different from me; she wants his kindred—fellow-feeling. That is Jane’s primary criterion for selecting a spouse, as well as her independent personality. Actually, it is Jane’s extraordinary temperament, emotional feeling, profound thoughts and unique personality that deeply attract Rochester and as for Rochester, he likes woman with dignity, knowledge and kind heart but woman is a devil with a beautiful look or with a wealth. These just matched Jane’s spirit .When Jane learns that Rochester will marry Miss Ingram, she regardless confides in Rochester:
I have talked, face to face, with what I reverence, with what I delight in, with an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind. I have known you, Mr. Rochester; and it strikes me with terror and anguish to feel I absolutely must be torn from you for ever. If God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. (Charlotte Bronte, 2004:404)
Charlotte Bronte creates the image of Jane through her own experience and deep understanding, which fully reflects the resistance of the male-centered society and the awakening of feminist consciousness. Male supremacy culture’s attitude towards women is always the male as the center, from the male’s position looking at women, giving oppression, or showing sympathy. But Jane Eyre has been exceeded in this tradition; she treats everything by her own criteria. Throughout, Jane’s words and deeds demonstrates that she is a woman who is independent and she has her own minds and thoughts instead of blindly following a man. This is a kind of subversion and criticism of male supremacy culture. Secondly, in the pursuit of economic independence, Jane has a strong consciousness of economic independence and dignity. In the text of “Jane Eyre”, economic factors have been clearly stressed at the beginning. At an early age, Jane’s parents has passed away and left her a little money, so she has to live in her uncle’s home. At that time she suffers from humiliation and abuse. But she, through her own efforts, finally gets a job as a tutor. Thereby she achieves economic self-reliance. Jane pays much attention to the economy, even when she falls in love with Rochester she still can not eliminate her anxiety of the disparity in the economic status. She refuses to accept his gifts and refuses to be at the mercy of him. She only wants an easy minds, not be crushed by his obligations. When Rochester asks her to give up the work of teaching, she refuses, “I shall continue to act as Adele’s governess; by that I shall earn my board and lodging, and thirty pounds a year besides.” It is her realization of the importance of the economic independence that let her make more efforts to achieve spiritual freedom. From the novel, we can easily find, Jane’s desire to pursue economic independence is strong. In the Patriarchy era, such a pursuit always combines with the issue of women’s liberation. So Charlotte think that in order to achieve the goal of women’s liberation they should make the society recognize the value of women which need women have an independent ability to get rid of the economic dependency status. In fact Jane is just like the author Charlotte herself who is also a tutor, despite the low social status, but she had made a great important step to achieve self-reliance. She could no longer tolerate the life of relying on to marry a good husband and being “the family angel”. Jane’s desire of changing the woman’s life by doing social works reflects Charlotte’s thoughts of feminism. Her words, “the bread earned by honest labor is sweeter than the bread for doing nothing”, still inspire women to fight for their independent economic status today. Charlotte Bronte from a new fantastic viewpoint of women creates a never succumbing to worldly pressures, independent and progressive image of woman. The image of Jane indicates that independence must be built on the basis of economic independence; only the economic independence of women can truly achieve spiritual liberation, and obtain the dignity.
3.2 Lin Daiyu’s Powerless Lin Daiyu is born in the purple—her father Lin Ruhai has obtained the third place in the previous triennial examination, and has, by this time, already risen to the rank of Director of the Court of Censors; her mother, Jia Min is Jia Zheng’s sister. Lin Daiyu, as a representative of the feudal females, has a certain consciousness of the pursuit of independence, but she is never able to put it into practice. The same as the majority of Chinese women, at that time she does not aware the importance and necessity of being equal with the male and being self- reliance in economy. In fact, she just simply notices that the Jia’s is not her own home, and she cannot do whatever she wants to in the Jia’s. Thereby she would inevitably be cruelly destroyed by the feudal powers, resulting in frustrated disappearance. It should be noted that, in the pursuit of individual economic independence, the difference between Jane Eyre and Lin Daiyu is not only related to their dwelling environment, but also to the different social environment: in 19th-century England had been a period of great development of capitalism, although women cannot immediately get rid of miserable living conditions, the emancipation of women have been widely aware of. The reasons that Jane Eyre can go to earn her own bread as a tutor is not only a result of her great personal efforts, but also the social environment to provide her the possible conditions; In contrast, living in 18th century China, Cao Xueqin, he cannot arrange a historical conditions and social environment beyond actual situation for Lin Daiyu. Although Daiyu is as competent to be a tutor as Jane Eyre, in that era, in the kind of environment, she cannot go out to earn a living by herself. She can only choose to live in her uncle’s home and to have a comfortable and affluent life. If she is not dead, maybe in the end she would follow her uncle’s decision to marry to a noble. Meanwhile, Lin Daiyu as a victim of feudal male-central society has revealed the consciousness of freedom of marriage and gender equality, but she still passively accepts the unfair treatment of feudal society imposed on her. Facing these she can only wash her face with sad tears, lamenting the misfortune of her fate, and at the end she sacrifices her life to resist the destruction of the feudal ethical code with obvious pessimism. Daiyu has always been afraid of loving openly, and she even intentionally conceals her true feelings. She does not recognize “the well-matching of gold and jade” in her words, but virtually she always worries about these. Actually, for these worries, Baoyu has made a number of promises and Daiyu herself has dropped so many tears in the hearts. She wants to change this situation, but expecting help from others. She hopes that Baoyu can get rid of the saying “ the well-matching of gold and jade “and she also hopes Grandmother Jia can preside over the marriage for her, and hopes Mrs. Wang would accept her, but all these are just her own wishes and cannot change anything. Daiyu is proud and aloof and despises all the vulgar things, but she can only rely upon poetry to express her bitterness, or use harsh words to obtain the spirit of balance; she can only release her grief in front of Baoyu, but she cannot carry out actions to pursue the ideal. She rebels against the feudal ethical code and opposes to the traditional concepts; she stealthily reads “The Romance of the Western Chamber” with Jia Baoyu , but when Xue Baochai finds out these she is ashamed and recognizes wrong; she goes after the freedom of marriage and she and Jia Baoyu deeply loves each other, but this platonic love in ancient China can only end in tragedy—idealized “plant and stone oath” must be defeated by secular “the well-matching of gold and jade”, as the sentence said:
Waste of a whole Lifetime. All maintain that the match between gold and jade will be happy. All I can think of is the solemn oath contracted in days gone by the plant and stone!...And that a couple may be bound by the ties of wedlock for life, but that after all their hearts are not easy to lull into contentment. (Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang, 2003:378)
In Chapter one, in the dream of Zhen Shiyin, the monk said: there existed in the west, on the bank of the Ling (spiritual) river, by the side of the San Sheng (thrice-born) stone, a blade of the Jiang Chu (purple pearl) grass. When thirsty she drank the Kuan ch’ou (discharged sorrows,) water. Having, however, up to this time, not shown her gratitude for the virtue of nurture lavished upon her, the result was but natural that she should resolve in her heart upon a constant and incessant purpose to make suitable acknowledgment. In the novel the author says himself that his experience and knowledge cannot compared with the girl, but the actual thought in his deep inside mind is that: females are always weaker than males. So we can learn that Cao Xueqin just wants to express his discontentedness of females’ living conditions, his criticism of male-dominated society and his support for give females their basic rights. However, the book “A Dream of Red Mansions” does not reveal the importance of economic independence and females’ self-reliance consciousness. So compared with Jane, Daiyu does not completely interpret the concept of feminism.
IV. Conclusion Jane Eyre is an orphan whose creator, lived in England in the19th century when it was in the reign of Queen Victoria. Jane has valiantly revolted against the mistreatments she suffered from since she hit John Reed back for the first time at the age of ten．After six years’ education, Jane is qualified as a teacher and has earned her financial independence ever since．During her days at Thornfield Hall，Jane functions as a tutor and is financially independent and thus spiritually independent，so on her wedding day when she knows that Rochester has already been a family man though his wife is insane，Jane，with her self-control and self-help，makes the decision to leave Thornfield and Mr. Rochester. And when Mr. Rochester is handicapped and not well off, Jane comes back to Mr. Rochester. At last, Jane and Rochester have lived happily ever since．As for Lin Daiyu, she is an aristocratic young lady, whose author lived at the end of the reign of Kangxi and the beginning of that Yongzheng. She is also rebellious which is expressed well in her everyday remarks and behavior, also in her poetry, of which An Ode to Burying Fallen Flowers the most famous one. But as for Daiyu, she cannot make her own decision, for she has lived at the expense of her grandmother’s family. And in feudal society, a young lady like Daiyu can make no living but stay at home enjoying the luxurious life her seniors afford her. Although she is in affectionate love with Baoyu and Baoyu with her too, they have no say to their marriage arrangement, and their seniors will arrange it for them．But her life is doomed to be a tragedy because she cannot get rid of the frame of old Chinese society’s codes of behavior and she doesn’t have the consciousness of female independence and also have no the condition of independent in economy. So the reason for the different ending of the two heroines can be known easily in this thesis: women are ancillary to men in Chinese feudal society whose history is as long as over two thousand years. No matter how capable they are，there is no way for women to live an independent life. They are supposed to follow their seniors’ decisions and the codes of behavior if not, they are considered to be unfilial, which is against the Confucianism, the footstone of the feudal social values. However, in Jane Eyre’s time，although the social system works for the male, the social value and feminism encourage the females to achieve the independence of economy and the self-value. And women are appealing for equality with men. So Jane earns her financial independence by working as teacher and in the end she achieves the true love by her own unremitting pursuit. Both “A Dream of Red Mansions” and “Jane Eyre” are fulfilled with profound thoughts, great wordsmanship and colorful cultures. They are the treasury in literature. The novel “Jane Eyre” interpreted the value of human lies in dignity plus love, and bravely put forward the request for women’s independence, equality and freedom. The author through her own life experience shapes the image—Jane Eyre. The distinct personalities of the characters and brave thoughts shocked the British literature at the time, and it had influenced many readers causing a profound impact on generation after generation. Then Jane Eyre has become a banner of the feminism. “A Dream of Red Mansions” permeated with Cao Xueqin’s rich life experience and his compassion for women. It has become a representative of Chinese literature, and it also influenced readers, generation after generation. Besides, it has raised a sect which is called “Hong Xue”. Jane Eyre and Lin Daiyu, the two images’ rebellious spirits and the pursuit of the true love have left a vast of precious thoughts and ideas for readers to think and to apprehend. The comparison of the two images is quite meaningful to find out reasons of the different life ending of each heroine. In the thesis, I make a comparison of them, from the philosophy and feminism two viewpoint, in order to have a clear recognition of the specificity of western and Chinese culture, and then to have a better understanding of western and Chinese society.
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