Jane Eyre

The Adequacy of an Ending: Comparing the Concluding Segments of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights College

To ascertain whether or not the ending of a novel is ‘adequate’, one must first isolate components of adequacy. For the purposes of this essay, four general categories of adequacy have been defined: moral adequacy, artistic adequacy, narrative adequacy (adequacy for the reader) and how adequately it advocates the author’s ideological message. These four definitions of adequacy will be approached from a Victorian perspective (i.e. what is morally adequate now is far different from what was morally adequate in the mid-19th Century), and will be applied to the endings of both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, published just three months apart in 1847. Ultimately, neither of novels’ endings are wholly adequate in all respects, although this is perhaps to be expected. Both texts are intensely passionate and energetic, and to end them adequately, by all measures, would be a great challenge.

Early Victorian society was unrelentingly moral, and largely produced didactic literature. Therefore, an essential measure of whether the endings of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are adequate is to what extent they fulfil a didactic purpose, in line with contemporary ideals. Both texts contain elements of ‘bildungsroman’, a genre popular in the...

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