Jane Eyre and The Merchant of Venice
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is a first-person narration of the life of Jane, the eponymous heroine. Having been orphaned at a young age, Jane must live with her emotionally abusive aunt and bullying cousins. Eventually sent to Lowood school for orphaned girls, Jane is again mistreated by apathetic management at the institution until the abuses are discovered and benefactors help improve the school. Having overcome the difficulties of her childhood, Jane leaves Lowood to serve as a governess for a young French girl at Thornfield Hall. In her new post, Jane is employed by the mysterious and brooding Mr. Rochester. Thornfield Hall is as strange as its master, and Jane begins to notice odd noises and unexplained occurrences. Despite the strangeness of her new situation, Jane begins to develop a deep affection for Mr. Rochester. However, when Jane discovers the truth behind the mysteries of Thornfield Hall she seems destined to be forever separated from her beloved Rochester. Jane Eyre beautifully illustrates the power of the Christian faith to overcome hardship, the tenacity of holy love, the struggle to resist temptation, and the joy which comes through obedience, patience, and hope.
The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare in which a merchant in 16th-century Venice must default on a large loan provided by an abused Jewish moneylender. It is believed to have been written between 1596 and 1598. Though classified as a comedy in the First Folio and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare’s other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps most remembered for its dramatic scenes and is best known for Shylock and the famous “Hath not a Jew eyes?” speech. Also notable is Portia’s speech about “the quality of mercy”.
Grade Level: 9-12 (ages 14-18)