Appunti, Tesina di, appunto inglese


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The Victorian Age (1830/1901) corresponds more or less to the life of Queen Victoria. She went to the throne when she was very young and she reigned for a very long period. This was a period of expansion of the British Empire, that reached its largest extension in the last years of Victorian's Reign and included India, Australia, Northern America and Southern Africa.

British were proud of being the most important nation in the world and they brought their religion and their traditions in the colonies. They were so proud that, for example, they never mixed with Indian nobility.

The Victorian families were generally very large and also the Queen had a lot of children, who she brought with her (with the teachers and the servants) during her frequent travels. In the society and in the families was always underlined the difference between women and men, also in the education system. Women were considered in a particular way: they had to submit to the conventions and the models of behaviour of a society which wanted them to be relegated in a stereotyped role. They had to stay at home and brought up the children, they couldn't work and also the Brontė sisters were obliged to use male pen names in order to be read.


The Brontė sisters, Anne, Emily and Charlotte, were the daughters of an Anglican clergyman and they were brought up with their two other sister and a brother by her mother's sister. All the girls were sent to a cheap boarding school but within a year the two oldest girls died for tuberculosis and Charlotte and Emily were taken home immediately. Then the Brontė sisters spent the most of their life in isolation in Northern England, in the village of Haworth, an unhealthy, gloomy place. Apart from periods at school, they were mainly self educated. Like many female writers of that period, they decided to use pseudonyms and it was under these pen names that each of the sisters published a very important novel: Emily (Ellis) published Wuthering Heights, Charlotte (Currer) Jane Eyre and Anne (Acton Bell) Agnes Grey, but only Jane Eyre was immediately successful.



Jane Eyre is a training novel, because the reader fallows the growing up of the protagonist. The story, in fact, tells Jane's pilgrimage from childhood to maturity. The stages of this journey are represented by the houses in which Jane lives. Each of them is connected to a phase in Jane's life and in every phase Jane has to struggle against difficulties that enrich her personality.

The novel is a fictitious autobiography, because the characters are invented, but the story is presented as a real biography.

The protagonist herself writes down the story when she's adult, so we have a first person narrator, because he and the chief character are the same. Everything is seen through the eyes of the narrator; sometimes Jane intrudes in the narration with her comments, so that we can call her a obtrusive narrator.

In Jane Eyre we can see gothic elements: the sense of impending danger, the aura of mystery that surrounds Thornfield Hall and the fact that Mr. Rochester has something mysterious in his past.

The are also some romantic elements, first of all the presence of a romantic hero, Mr. Rochester.


Jane: she's an unusual heroine when compared to the female protagonists of the Victorian novels. She has got a lot of moral qualities, but not a lot of physical ones. She's not beautiful, but she's very intelligent, determinate and passionate, qualities which were not appreciated in a woman at that time. She's got a strong sense of what is right and what's wrong, she knows what's good and what's bad, and she has the desire to do always what she feels right, even if this can be painful. She's restless and afraid of being imprisoned. It wasn't her beauty to attract Mr. Rochester, but her intelligence. Other women are very frivolous, always well-dressed and rich, but Jane is different and she never does anything to attract the attention of Mr. Rochester. Also her name has a particular meaning that can tell us something about Jane's personality: the word "Eyre" reminds us of the word "air" and so freedom.

Mr. Rochester: he's an example of the Byronic hero, because he has got a lot of vices, he's got a mysterious past and he's surrounded in mystery also in the present. He's an intelligent and cultured man of wealth and power, but Jane marries him just after his changing. In the end of the story, in fact, he looses his house and his wife, but he gains a lot from the point of view of the moral behaviour, because he has done a great act of generosity, rescuing Bertha.


Red, white and grey are the predominant colours. They're used both to convey the atmosphere of the house and to reveal the temperaments of the characters. Red is associated with passion, love, madness, fire and also fear, whereas white and grey represent coldness, lack of sentiment and desolation.


Jane Eyre can be a sort of autobiography, because we can find real elements of the life of Charlotte in the story. For example, both Charlotte and Jane are orphans and spend some time in a cheap boarding school, where the conditions of the children were bad (even if the Brontė sisters come back home soon and Jane remains there for several years). Like Charlotte, Jane becomes a governess and also a teacher. Both don't like to be considered inferior and both fall in love with the wrong man, that's considered so for Jane because of two reasons: he's already married and he belongs to another social class. Both these men are fascinating for them, even if they're not handsome, but cultured and bed tempered. ed to Jane's finally happy love, Charlotte's one has not a happy ending.



  • This novel has a narrative structure which employs 2 narrators, Mr. Lockwood and Nelly Dean, whose presence gives the roofs to a realistic story. The reader share Mr. Lockwood's point of view, because he narrates what he seas and write down what Nelly tells him.
  • In the novel there are two opposite principles: the principles of storm and energy on the one hand, and that of calm and settled assurance on the other. The two mansions, Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights, stand for these principles. Wuthering Heights reflects the nature of Heathcliff, who owns it: severe, gloomy and brutal in aspect and atmosphere, firmly rooted in local tradition and custom, it's the appropriate background for the life of primitive passion led by its owner. Thrushcross Grange, the home of the Lintons, reflects their conception of life, based on stability, kindness and respectability.
  • In Wuthering Heights we can see some romantic elements. First of all the correspondence between the violent passion of the characters and the wild natural landscape: the desolate scenery of the Yorkshire moors, the wind and the storms are all reflected in the psychological conflicts of the characters. Then is romantic the presence of a Byronic hero, Heathcliff, moved by an irresistible passion.
  • In this novel we can also recognize some Gothic elements: Heathcliff's inhuman treatment of his wife and even his son, the sinister atmosphere of Wuthering Heights, the presence of a ghost and of the dreams and superstitions often mentioned.


Wuthering Heights explores the nature of love, which sometimes is not happy and isn't something simple. We can have two types of love: a domestic love, that's a trivial love, something formal and superficial (for example that one between Cathy and Edgar), and a romantic love, a supernatural love that leads to obsession and cruelty and gives suggestions about life after death. It goes beyond the limits of human life and is, for example, the love between Cathy and Heathcliff.


The novel is full of vivid views through windows and many scenes take place near a window, which become a window on experience. They persuade us to look at a possible way of being which we may not have considered before. Four important scenes are connected to the image of a window: at the beginning of the novel (that's the end of the story) the ghost taps on the window; the first time that Cathy and Heathcliff see Thrushcross Grange they look in through a window and see a different way of life; Edgar and Cathy are sitting beside an open window when Heathcliff returns after his exile; Cathy leans out of a window and catches the cold that kills her.


Heathcliff: he's selfish, asocial, impulsive and cruel and Cathy describes him as a "wolfish man". He acts on other people inducing them to do something he wants. He has the characteristics of the Byronic hero: he's rebel against moral and social law, he has mysterious origin and he's isolated from those who are around him. His language is direct and simply. He is dominated by one consuming passion, the love-revenge. Also his name has a particular meaning and we can understand his personality through his name: "heath" (=moors) means something deserted, solitary, open, unlimited and monotonous, while "cliff" (=scogliera) means something steep, frightening, dangerous and difficult to reach. Heathcliff in, in fact, a solitary person, who likes to be on his own. He's not limited and he's monotonous, because the passion of love-revenge is in all his life and dominates it. Then, he's only reachable for Cathy and he's very frightening. With this character, the achievements of Emily Brontė is that of inserting the monstrous in the ordinary rhythm of life and work, so making it less monstrous but more disturbing.

Cathy: she was a difficult child, non easily guided. She's dominated by the love for Heathcliff, which she always remains faithful to. In her personality live two opposite aspects: on the one hand she's ambitious (she would like to be rich, to live in a beautiful house) and, in the meantime, she's devoted to Heathcliff and she would do everything for him. When Heathcliff returns, she doesn't accept the blame for their situation and she will take her life in order to break Edgar's and Heathcliff's hearts, so that they'll know how a person can suffer when somebody is cruel to her. Cathy dominates Heathcliff's life throughout the novel, even more after her death. In "Back to Wuthering heights" we can see a changing in Cathy's personality after staying at Thrushcross Grange: from a wild savage girl she changes into a defined, clean lady. There's a passage from childhood to adult life. She's no more a child and she's not rebel but more conformed. She conforms to the idea of a teenage girl, finding a husband, and this changing is the reason why Heathcliff refuses her. ed to Jane Eyre, Cathy is more similar to a real person and her behaviour is more human, also because she's dominated by different feelings (it depends by the day).



Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. In his adolescence he traveled a lot and he lived in the south of England, in Germany, in France and also in Italy. All the time he was in conflict with his social environment, the respectable Victorian world, so he's the first example of the bohemian in Britain. He married an American woman and they moved to Australia and Tahiti, setting down in Samoa, where Stevenson died in 1894. He became popular as a novelist above all thanks to Treasure Island and The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


This novel tells the story of Dr. Jekyll, who's carrying on experiments in order to separate the evil part to the good one of a man. He makes a potion and he obtains physical and also psychological changes. Mr. Hyde is a persona who's completely evil and little by little Dr. Jekyll looses control of this evil part; in the end he can't choose when change and even if he doesn't take the potion he becomes Mr. Hyde. The only solution is suicide. In this story we can read two moral teaching: first of all things can slip out of your control and then that's not a good idea trying to change nature.

Stevenson wrote in his diary that he had dreamed of a man in a laboratory who had swallowed a drug and turned into a different being. This is the Gothic aspect of the novel; many works from this period depicted the double nature of Victorian society, with its antithetical values and sexual repression.


There are four narrators: Enfield, Utterson, Lanyon and Dr. Jekyll himself. Utterson has the role of the detective and he has got a strange relationship with his relative Enfild. The other narrator, Lanyon, is a good man and he's the one who Dr. Jekyll asks for help. The last narrator is Dr. Jekyll himself, whose narrative and finally confession takes up the last chapter.

Stevenson drew inspiration for the description of Hyde from Darwin's studies, according to which people derive from apes. Hyde may be both the primitive animal and the symbol of repressed psychological drives. According to Freud, infact, if you repress a part of your soul it will come out in a violent way.

In the story there are no women and the men that are the protagonists or the other characters belong to the same respectable world: they're doctors or lawyers. So the story reflects the mail oriented society of the Victorian world.

There are no real relationships between the protagonist and no feelings are involved in the relationships.


The setting of the novel seems to be halfway between London and Edinburgh. Both cities had a double nature and reflected the hypocrisy of Victorian society. London had the respectable West End and the poor East End. Edinburgh had the New Town with its wide squares, and the Old Town, where crime was a pressing problem. This ambivalence in the setting in reinforced by the symbolism of Jekyll's house, whose two faēade are symbolically the faces of the two opposed sides of the same man: the front of this house, used by Dr. Jekyll, is well-kept and respectable, while the rear, used by Mr. Hyde, is part of a sinister block of building.

Most scenes of the novel take place at night, that generally is foggy: for example, when Hyde tramples over the child it's night and also the suicide of Dr. Jeckyll take place during the night.


The two protagonists of the story are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, who're two parts of the same person: Dr. Jekyll is a good person and his aspect reflects his personality. In fact, his face is handsome, his hands white and well-shaped and his body is more harmonious than Hyde's. Dr. Jekyll is a sort of Faust, because he signs a pact with an interior evil that controls him in the end.

Edward Hyde is instead described as deform, he's pale, his hands are dark and hairy and he's shorter and more little in body than Dr. Jekyll, in order to indicate that the evil part of Dr. Jekyll's nature is initially less developed because most of his life has been devoted to virtue and control. Little by little, committing crimes, Hyde's body begins to grow up and get stronger, even if an adult doesn't grow up, in order to indicate that the evil side of the protagonist is taking advantage.


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