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Appearance Versus Reality in 19th Century English Literature

  • Date Submitted: 04/21/2012 04:57 PM
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English 395
January 3, 2012

The Role Appearance Versus Reality Plays in 19th Century English Literature
Nineteenth Century English novelists use themes to portray certain truths about the society in which they live.   Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte are three novels that portray the theme of appearance vs. reality in unique ways.   In Pride and Prejudice, the heroine Elizabeth Bennett judges Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham based on her first impressions of them.   Appearance versus reality in this novel illustrates that one's true character is often hidden by one's outward behavior.   Mary Shelley uses actual physical appearance of the creature to illustrate the theme of appearance versus reality in Framkenstein.   The character of the creature is used to shed light on the importance appearance plays in society.   Charlotte Bronte uses character deception in Jane Eyre to uncover the true feelings of the heroine.   Appearance versus reality in this novel encourages the first person narrative of Jane. The theme's motifs in the above works differ from each other significantly.   Appearance versus reality is displayed in Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein, and Jane Eyre through misunderstood first impressions, physical abnormality and behavioral deception respectively.

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen proves through three primary characters that first impressions are often flawed.   The heroine of the story, Elizabeth Bennett, bases her opinion of Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy on her first encounters with them.   In both cases Elizabeth does not inquire about their histories, families, background or relations to support her opinions of them.   Nor do the men   volunteer this information to her.   When Miss. Elizabeth Bennett first meets Mr. Wickham he is all charm and joviality.   He discusses with her his station of being a poor officer and easily garners Elizabeth's sympathy.   Elizabeth is able to empathize with...

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