24 January 2012
Pro-social Behaviour in BrontÃ«'s Jane Eyre and Eliot's Middlemarch
â€œSacrifice is an act of giving that is necessarily reciprocated,â€ says Marcel Mauss in his work The Gift (21), emphasizing the fact that the gift is never free and has to be repaid. While both Jane and Dorothea, the main characters of two great Victorian novels, made their kinds of sacrifice, it can be concluded that those sacrifices arose from two different causes.
Pro-social behaviour or â€œset of actions that benefit other people or society as a wholeâ€œ is provoked either by altruism or by egoistic motives, usually in hope of future reciprocity (Twenge, Ciarocco, Baumeister, & Bartels, ...view middle of the document...
e. â€œlifelong friendsâ€, which she considers to be â€œmore valuable to her than the immense fortune of twenty thousand poundsâ€ (Rappoport).
Middlemarchâ€™s Dorothea Brooke is a bit different from Jane. They both have a goal of helping others in need; however, Dorothea asks nothing in return. Her act of helping others, such as Lydgate, by using her own money makes her a good person, pure at heart. She is driven by a high level of empathy and religiosity. When Lydgate discovers that he is unable to pay off his debt acquired by marrying Rosamond, he turns to Bulstrode in hope that he might help him. Conclusively, Bulstrode does give him the money he needs but after Lydgate discovers the true reason Bulstrode helps him, he indirectly asks Dorothea for help. That opportune transaction leaves both Lydgate and Dorothea feeling fulfilled, for she does not care much about possessing the money but about giving and sharing it with others, expecting nothing in return.
Through giving and reciprocal or altruistic acts women make intimate relationships which grant them greater benefits. â€œThey give those relationships larger social significance by allowing a single, personal gift to reshape a womanâ€™s experience of property, inheritance and familyâ€ (Rappoport). This kind of behaviour is not very common within the society, especially among women, and is often frowned upon. However, it may bring success to those who follow through, to the surprise of others. Janeâ€™s gift-giving ultimately brings her internal happiness, as well as Dorotheaâ€™s helping others does to her. Jane gets in return that what she wants â€“ fraternal love and Dorothea is happy because she finally has an opportunity to do a good turn she strives to do for a very long time. On the other hand, characters such as Rosamond, for instance, experience collapse because they are trying...