Compare and contrast the love conveyed in Jane Eyre to the love in "Bright Star!" by Keats.

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Arguably, the love presented in both of these texts is romantic in its presentation, but the love presented in "Bright Star" is more realistic through the speaker's realisation that such intimacy and love cannot endure forever, whereas Jane enjoys a fairy-tale ending that could be viewed as not being entirely realistic. The ending of Jane Eyre is one where the Cinderella-like central character gets her happy ending with her handsome (or not so handsome, in the case of Mr. Rochester) prince. Having triumphed over the various obstacles that separated them, they seem to enjoy a "happily-ever-after" ending that is the stuff of fantasy. Note how this love is described:

No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward's society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together.

It is possible to view such a description as being rather claustraphobic and impossibly romantic: Bronte creates a description of love that is suffocating in its intensity and closeness and bears little resemblance to reality in the way that Jane insists she enjoys a marital intimacy that is closer than any other relationship.

In "Bright Star," the speaker characterises the love he has for his beloved by wanting to catch the moment and "freeze" it as it were forever, so he can continue to enjoy such close proximity and feelings of love:

Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.

Although again, this could be viewed as another romantic description of love, the key difference between the two texts is that the poem is built around the recognition that such a moment cannot be "frozen" or captured in time, and that it will end. The speaker realises that he is asking for something that is impossible, and thus the poem is tinged with a far more realistic sense than the love described in Jane Eyre.


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