Bronte and Dickens

Bronte and Dickens present the experience of being a child in the 19th century through many different techniques. One these techniques being the way that the writers show everything through the childrens eyes this is effective because it shows how everything seems big and imposing to all children. There are obviously major differneces between todays childrens treatment and that of the Victorian times, one of the most prominent of these is how the children are treated at school the discipline is very important and the freedom of speech we have come to treat as normal.

Also the actual teaching is based upon the facts “Stick to facts” and the points of view from the children was not allowed. It also seems that the treatment of the children in domestic life is far different to that of what is now accepted for example the treatment of Jane Eyre is similar that of a slave but this only true because she is not one of her aunts children and she was thrust upon her after Jane’s fathers death.

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In chapter one Dickens includes frequent repetition to show us how dull and irksome the lessons and the teaching methods were an example of this is the teachers obsession with the importance of facts in life “Now what I want is facts, teach these boys and girls nothing but facts. Facts alone are wanted in life”. Also in the Victorian times the children were meant to be seen and not heard. In adults social life the children were not meant to be around when their parents were entertaining they were in-fact a social hindrance.

When the children had performed a deed which warranted a punishment they would be chastised and also adults used the church and religion to punish them “God will punish you” and “something might come down the chimney to fetch you away”, this is aimed to scare the children into thinking they will not go heaven. When Jane gets sent to the “red room” she has obviously done something very wrong in Mrs. Reed’s eyes, when Jane is left on her own in the room the way that Dickens shows us how terrifying it was for her by making everything seem enormous “massive pillars” and “large windows” he also describes the colours vividly “deep red, mahogany, crimson” all colours associated with blood thus scaring her even more.

The way the children were punished in the Victorian times was far harsher than nowadays there is an example of this in all the books we studied, I have already described how Jane Eyre was punished, also in David Copperfield he is punished extremely cruely, he is put in solitary confinement for five days and he is only allowed out for half an hour every morning. He describes Mr. Murdstone as being his “jailer” this highlights just how bad it was as goes far enough to liken it to jail.

How the children grew up was also very tough especially for those who had lost their real parents and had been shipped off to relations or were brought up by their elder siblings. Pip was brought up by his sister Mrs. Gargery and we are told that he was brought up by hand, what Dickens means by this is that she had used force to bring him up and also may have punished him by using physical force. Pip’s case seems even worse when we listen to Dicken’s description of Mrs. Gargery “she had such a redness of skin that I used to wonder whether she washed herself with a nutmeg grater instead of soap” it is this first impression which lets the reader know how she will act even before she does so.

Pip also describes how he is washed “she pounced on me, like an eagle on a lamb” This suggests that Pip is the prey and his sister is a predator pouncing on him. “kneaded and towelled”, kneaded is usually a word which is associated with cooking so Mrs. Gargery is handling Pip like a un-feeling object. In conclusion both Bronte and Dickens show how hard it was to be a child growing up in the Victorian times especially by the general treatment of the children by adults.