The impact of trauma on decision-making: Jane Eyre’s journey from abuse to agency in the Victorian era

In this research paper, I will closely analyse the character traits of the downtrodden protagonist, Jane Eyre, to ascertain how she reaches empowerment in adulthood after a childhood of abuse, trauma, grief and neglect in Victorian England. In particular, I will pay attention to Jane’s decision-making processes, as this is the key to understanding her journey to freedom and empowerment. As a female, Jane experiences gender-based abuse on a societal level, and as a destitute orphan, she experiences physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse on a personal level. With abuse being predominant in every stage of Jane’s life, she is tasked with the heavy burden of overcoming trauma if she is to make a success of her life and to live happily. Jane must make wise and informed, life-altering decisions to avoid lifelong suffering.

Resisting patriarchy in Africa: Desire and agency in ‘Woman at Point Zero’ and ‘Under the Udala Trees’  

Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi and Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta are two very different African novels, yet both bring attention to gender-based oppression and patriarchy in Africa. In both novels, there are several female characters who cope with patriarchy in different ways. Some women submit to the system, while others resist it. There are also women who manipulate the system to their advantage, while other women outrightly oppose it. In this essay, I will focus on an exploration of the main female protagonists, and how they resist the different types of patriarchy challenging them.

Analysing the motif of time in ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and ‘The Hours’

In both novels, time is used to represent the temporary nature of life. Clocks are used to symbolise the urgency which accompanies time - this places emphasis on the mortality of life. Furthermore, both novels express the nonlinear nature of time, which juxtaposes the temporary nature of life with the permanent nature of memories (both positive and negative memories). In this essay, I will demonstrate that Cunningham uses the same representations of time as Woolf does in her novel. Additionally, I will explain the contextual settings of both novels to demonstrate that time is relevant inside and outside of these two intertextual novels. 

The rise of womanism in South African praise poetry: Dismantling past traditions of patriarchy 

In this essay, I will pay particular attention to South African praise poetry to demonstrate that there is a slow shift away from patriarchy towards inclusivity. The genre of praise poetry has progressed from being predominantly male to include more female poets who have gained fame and respect across the African continent. I will begin with a discussion of the past, before addressing the current shift away from patriarchy. 

Life lessons from ‘Spare’ by Prince Harry: A message about values and mental health

'Spare' by Prince Harry has been a hotly debated autobiography in recent months, and has ruffled quite a few feathers. I could follow the masses and criticise the book for its poor writing, vulgarity, and boyish tone, however, I think the overall message of the book is more important than its few shortcomings. So here's a list of life lessons that we could learn from Prince Harry's experiences, choices and views...

Life lessons from a tragic hero in ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe

Okonkwo, in Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart', is a complex character who teaches us many lessons about life, society, and culture. According to the definition of a tragic hero in literature, one could easily consider Okonkwo a tragic hero. Okonkwo's life and death reveal tragedies which can be avoided with careful judgment and informed decision-making. In this essay, I will outline the elements of a tragic hero as they pertain to Okonkwo, and conclude with some thoughts on how to avoid such tragic endings.

Queer temporality in ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and ‘The Hours’

Clarissa Dalloway’s sexuality, in the fictional novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, is ambiguous. Clarissa kisses her female friend Sally Seton, and describes it as “the most exquisite moment of her whole life” (Woolf 1925:33). This event in the novel causes intrigue for postmodernist queer theorists, who analyse the possibilities of an abrosexual or bisexual Clarissa in a heteronormative world. One particular postmodernist writer, named Michael Cunningham, decided to write a novel which creatively explores the themes of gender and sexuality, which are hinted at, or rather suppressed, in 'Mrs. Dalloway'. Cunningham’s book, 'The Hours', boldly plots the lives of a few queer characters, whose sexual orientations shift, blend, and change with time.

Gender oppression and survival strategies in ‘Woman at Point Zero’ by Nawal El Saadawi

'Woman at Point Zero' is an Arabian novel written by psychiatrist and feminist, Nawal El Saadawi. In her novel, she interviews a woman who is jailed for the murder of a man, that man being her pimp. Firdaus, the protagonist, is a prostitute, and the novel tells the story of how she came to be a sex worker and murderer. Saadawi documents her interviews with Firdaus before Firdaus is executed. Firdaus’s story reveals the dark side of being a woman in patriarchal Egypt.

Integration barriers facing African immigrants: Othering and reduction in ‘We Need New Names’ by NoViolet Bulawayo

Cultural exchange while living in a foreign country can be difficult for an immigrant if the local community is not well informed or open-minded about foreign places and people.  This can leave an immigrant feeling alienated in their new country of residence. In the novel 'We Need New Names' by NoViolet Bulawayo, we see an apt portrayal of othering taking place when the protagonist, Darling, relocates to the United States of America (USA) from an unnamed African country, which we can assume is Zimbabwe.

Debating African spirituality in ‘The Prophetess’ by Njabulo Ndebele

Africa is a continent with many belief systems. There are influences from foreign religions which entered through colonisation. There are also varying beliefs amongst the different nations and indigenous tribes of Africa. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find hybrid belief systems with a mixture of different, and even contradictory, beliefs. This essay will discuss the way in which African belief systems can both benefit and harm African societies. I will use the short story 'The Prophetess' by Njabulo Ndebele as a backdrop for this discussion. 

Patriarchy and gender roles in South African praise poetry

Praise poetry is a unique form of oral literature in Africa. It is practised across the continent in various countries as a means of storytelling, historical interpretation, entertainment, political discourse, and ceremonious adulation to kings, chiefs, warriors, and other important figures. Praise poetry is a semi-structured genre where there are loosely defined categories and functions which serve different purposes. Both male and female Africans are involved in the art, however the praise poets are predominantly male. Men and women have different roles in the way praises are performed and sung. An investigation into these roles leads us to question whether there is equality between genders in this industry of performance poetry in Africa.

The role of Romantic poetry in modernity: From political foe to influential co-creator

Romantic poets inclined towards writing poetry that used the theme of nature, metaphorically. They also included elements of imagination, mysticism, and mythology to represent their thoughts and ideas. Generally, their works are viewed as a reaction to modernity, the period in which they published their poems. For the focus of this essay, I will particularly analyse Lord Byron’s second canto from this his epic poem, 'Don Juan'. In doing so, I will highlight the themes and natural elements in Lord Byron’s poetry, which reveal that he had a longing for the old way of life in England, prior to modernism and modernization. 

Pre-colonial African civilization in ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe 

There are common, misguided beliefs globally held about Africa and Africans. These beliefs perpetuate the stereotype that Africa is a primitive continent without civilization. Western writers such as Joseph Conrad and Joyce Cary have aided in creating such stereotypes through their literature. In response, African writers such as Chinua Achebe, set out to write literature which dispelled these stereotypes, by revealing the cultural beliefs and practices of Africans prior to Western colonisation.

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