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Lecturer's expectations

Alan Dilnot, Lecturer

In this section, one of your lecturers - Alan Dilnot - sets out what he expects from student assignments on this topic.

Essay topic:

Jane Eyre has often been valued as speaking on behalf of women. To what extent does Wide Sargasso Sea articulate aspects of women's experience that Jane Eyre ignores or suppresses?

The key phrase in this topic is "women's experience". That by itself would be a huge subject, and it would be sensible for you to state which aspects of women's experience you wanted to concentrate on. But in any case there is a strict requirement to view the topic in relation to the two novels. Since one novel depends upon the other, it is probably wise to give them equal time. A good beginning would be to give a succinct account of the chief ways in which Jane Eyre speaks for women, and then to discuss whether it ignores some important aspects of their experience.

If your argument is that Jane Eyre is insufficiently feminist, you can then go on to ask whether Wide Sargasso Sea is more satisfactory in this regard. If on the other hand you believe that Jane Eyre gives an authentic account of the situation of 19th century middle-class women, you can ask whether the view of Wide Sargasso Sea is complementary to it or contradictory of it.

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