Jane Eyre

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Gothic novel

  • Setting in a castle. The action takes place in and around an old castle, sometimes seemingly abandoned, sometimes occupied. 
  • An atmosphere of mystery and suspense. The work is pervaded by a threatening feeling, a fear enhanced by the unknown. 
  • An ancient prophecy is connected with the castle or its inhabitants (either former or present). The prophecy is usually obscure, partial, or confusing. "What could it mean?" 
  • Omens, portents, visions. A character may have a disturbing dream vision, or some phenomenon may be seen as a portent of coming events.
  • Supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events. Dramatic, amazing events occur, such as ghosts or giants walking, or inanimate objects (such as a suit of armor or painting) coming to life. 
  • High, even overwrought emotion. The narration may be highly sentimental, and the characters are often overcome by anger, sorrow, surprise, and especially, terror. 
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Gothic novel

  • Women in distress lonely, pensive, and oppressed heroine is often the central figure of the novel, so her sufferings are even more pronounced and the focus of attention. The women suffer all the more because they are often abandoned, left alone (either on purpose or by accident), and have no protector at times.
  • Women threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male. One or more male characters has the power, as king, lord of the manor, father, or guardian, to demand that one or more of the female characters do something intolerable. 
  • The metonymy of gloom and horror. Metonymy is a subtype of metaphor, in which something (like rain) is used to stand for something else (like sorrow). 
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Byronic Hero

  • With regard to his intellectual capacity, self-respect, and hypersensitivity, the Byronic hero is "larger than life," and "with the loss of his titanic passions, his pride, and his
  • certainty of self-identity, he loses also his status as [a traditional] hero" (Thorslev 187).
  • He is usually isolated from society as a wanderer or is in exile of some kind.
  • Byron's Manfred, a character who wandered desolate mountaintops, was physically isolated from society, whereas Childe Harold chose to "exile" himself and wander throughout Europe.
  • Although Harold remained physically present in society and among people, he was not by anymeans "social."
  • Often the Byronic hero is moody by nature or passionate about a particular issue.
  •  He also has emotional and intellectual capacities, which are superior to the average man. 
  • These heightened abilities force the Byronic hero to be arrogant, confident, abnormally sensitive, andextremely conscious of himself. 
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Class and Governess


  • Industrial revolution  - lifted working class men to middle class 
  • Could socialise with aristocracy - married children into gentry
  • Mr Oliver - once a needlemaker, now has his daughter married to an aristocrat
  • Jane in precaroius social class; 
    • Brought up by aristocratic family 
    • Mother was landed gentry but father was poor clergymen
    • father's brother is wealthy merchant
  • Bronte social position was more precarious - father was from Irish peasantry


  • wealth had shifted form landowners to owners of industrial entreprise 
  • industrial middle classes employed daughters of impoverished gentry as governesses to lift children into higher class
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Position of women

  • Few legal rights - same standing as children
  • No vote
  • Belonged to nearest male relative - father, brother, uncle, husband, cousin
  • Any property she owned belonged to her husband when she married
  • If unmarried, she was dependant on her closest male relative after her father's death
  • many working women were finding work with bad conditions and low pay
  • Middle class women were not permitted to go to university or have extensive education 
  • Were expected to stay at home until married and concentrate on family once married
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Expectations of women

Expectations of women

  • English women were expected to restrain strong emotions
  • To have no ambition
  • To be weak and passive
  • Not to display or have any passion - men could enjoy themselves
  • To be the custodians of family values  
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  • Working class girls had no oppertunity to gain education 
  • Middle class girl taught things to impress suitors 
  • Bronte sisters sent to Cowan Bridge school - for children of clergymen
  • Typhus broke out - Patrick brought girls home but Maria and Elizabeth died
  • Educated at home  
  • Charlotte and Emily Bronte had to go abroad to reach the level of education needed to run a school
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Responsibility and Imagination

  • 1830 - Sent to Roe Head school to enble her to earn own living - Patrick was ill and it was feared he would die
  • Taught at Roe Head from 1835 to 1838
  • Worked as a governess after Robert Southley rejected the poems she sent to him, saying women should not write literature
  • Nursed her father in his final years
  • She was made aware of social injustices, as her father was a social reformer

Angria and Gondal

  • Charlotte, Emily and Anne created two imaginary kingdoms and created books
  • She started writing these stories again after she returned home from teaching at Roe Head
  • They were allowed free reign of thier fathers library
  • He did not censor thier reading, so they read books deemed inappropriate for women to read   
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  • Church followed the Old Testment - believed God was merciful but would punish sinners on the Day of Judgement
  • Church exploited the uncertainty of when people would die
  • Used as a from of social control and to prevent rebellion
  • Used to keep poor children from climbing social ladder
  • Patrick Bronte belong to Anglican church - non-conformist evangelical
  • Elizabeth Branwell was a Calvenist - believed in damnation
  • Would have religius debates at the dinner table   
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  • focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood
  • The protagonist grows from child to adult in the novel
  • At an early stage, a loss or some sort of discontent pushes him or her away from home or the family setting, providing an impetus to embark on a journey. 
  • The main character often develops through "self actualization". 
  • The process of maturation is long, strenuous and gradual, involving repeated clashes between the protagonist's needs and desires and the views and judgments enforced by an unbending social order.
  •  An Entwicklungsroman ("development novel") is a story of general growth rather than self-cultivation. 
  • An Erziehungsroman ("education novel") focuses on training and formal schooling
  • Künstlerroman ("artist novel") is about the development of an artist and shows a growth of the self.
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  • Treatment of children
    • "Bronte's problematic treatment of children by depriving them subjectivity yet attributing to Jane both subjectivity and childishness is best clarified in her most direct feminist commentary of the novel" -  Tracy Lemaster
  • Byronic hero
    • "he seems less the byronic hero than the confused Victorian male" - Joanne Speigel 
  • Rebellion vs Conformity
    • 'Happiness comes to Jane only after she overcomes the hegemony of passion through knowing conformity' - Anita L Allen
  • Relgion 
    •  'Jane's religion is not Helen's, but an intensely private one which grows out of
      her own experiences' - Ruth Bernard Yeazell
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  • Love vs automony
    • 'Jane Eyre mimics [...] oedipal resolution, as she relinquishes the demand for autonomy and wide-ranging activity to become what Rochester makes of her, the object of his affections' - Jean Wyatt
  • Postion of women/feminism
    • 'there is no hint in the book of any desire for political, educational, or even intellectual equality between the sexes. Miss Bronte asks only for the simple [...] recognition that the same heart and the same spirit animate both men and women' - Robert B. Martin
  • Fire vs ice
    • 'the images of fire and ice that dominate the book do not onlyor mainly sum up the two men in Jane life: they represent extremes in her own temperment that she must reconcile' - Robert and Louise Barnard
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  • Gothic novel
  • 'Jane's struggle for social and economic visibilty is staged within a Gothic drama,      which challenges certain reader's expectations of a romantic novel' - Andrew Smith
  • Imperialism
  • 'betrays an anxiety that imperiaslism and oppresion of other races constitute a stain on upon English history and that the novel's  own approriation of nonwhite races for figuritive ends bears a disturbing resemblance to that history' - Susan Meyers
  • Social class
    • Brontë illustrates the harmfulness of distinctions between class, though in Jane Eyre, she does so on a much more limited level. - Erin Wells
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  • Sexual behavoiur of Celine Varens
    • 'and that is how she charmed my English gold out of my British breeches pocket'
    • he believed, as he said, that she was preferred his 'taille d'athele' to the elegenace of the Apollo Belvidere' 
    • 'I was flattered by this preference of the Gallic nymph sylph for her british gnone
    • 'I installed her in in an hotel; gave her a complete establishment of servants, a carriage,cashmeres, diamonds, dentelles'
  • Vanity of Adele
    • 'you true daughter of Paris'
    • 'My Spirng is gone, however, but it has left me with the French floweret on my hands' 
    • 'coquetry runs in her blood, blends in her brains, and seasons the marrow of her bones'
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  • Seductive behavouir of Bertha
    • 'She flattered me, and laivshly displayed for my pleasure her charms and accomplished'
    • 'tall, dark and majestic'
  • Madness of Bertha and her family
    • she came from a mad family; idiots and maniacs for three generations'
    • 'Her mother, the Creole, was both a madwoman and a drunkard!'
    • 'There was a younger brother too - a mute idiot'
  • Anti-french sentiment
    • 'what you have, I suppose, in another year will be walled up alive in a French convent'
    • 'the slime and mud of Paris'
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  • St John - insists that for Jane to deny him as a husband is the same as denying Christ
    • 'God and nature intended you for a missionary's wife'
  • His dedication to his faith leads him to deny himself love
    • 'Rosamond Oliver a missionary's wife? No!'
    • 'But that heart is already laid on a sacred alter: the fire is arranged about it'
    • 'I experince at the same time a calm, unwarped consciosness that she would not make a good wife'
  • Mr Brocklehurst uses religion to keep the girls of Lowood in thier place- claims that to save their souls, they need to deny them any comfort
    • 'when you put bread and cheese into these children's mouths, you may feed thier vile bodies, but you starve thier immortal souls'
  • Anti-catholic sentiment
    • 'walled up alive in a French convent'
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  • Helen Burns' devout belief that she must tolerate the creulty she suffers
    • 'it is weak and silly to say what you cannot bear what it is your fate the be required to bear'
    • 'Read the New Testement, and observe what Christ says, and how he acts; makes his word your rule, and His conduct your example'
  • Helen is glad to leave the world of suffering
    • 'By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings'
    • 'I believe God is good; I resign my immortal part to Him without misgiving'
  • Jane tells Mr Rochester that he cannot save his soul by marrying Blanche, that he must do this by repenting for his sins 
    • 'a wanderer's repose or a sinner's reformation cannot be dependant on a fellow creature'
    • 'let him look higher than his equals for strength to amend and solace to heal'  
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  • Jane's questioning of religion before Helen's death
    • 'Where is God? What is God?' 
  • Anti-catholic sentiment
    • 'walled up alive in a French convent'
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Social Class

  • The wealthy are displayed as being greedy and snobby -  carcicature - John Reed
    • 'this house belonges to me, or will do in a few years'
    • 'He gorged himself habitually at the table'
    • ''a dim and bleared eye and flabby cheeks'
    • 'large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thich ligament in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities'
  • Position at Gateshead
    • 'you are a dependant, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none'
    • 'you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children'
    • 'you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep'
    • 'it is your place to be humble, and to make yourself to agreeable to them' 
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Social Class

  • Jane believes that she is above teaching poor children but knows this feelings are wrong and is uncomfortable having a servant 
    • 'I dismissed with the fee of an orange, the little orphan who serves me a handmaid''
    • 'I felt degraded. I doubted i had taken a step which sank instead of raising me in the scale of social existence.' 
    • 'I was weakly dismayed at the ignorance, the poverty, the coarseness of of all I heard and saw about me.'
    Jane is reluctant to marry Rochester because she is worried about thier social inequality
    • 'portrait of a governess, poor, disconnected and plain'
    • 'it does good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly marry her'
  • Refused presents from Rochester - does not feel comfortable after being so plain and humble for so long
    • 'the more he brought me, the more my cheek burned of annoyance and degradation'
    • 'I never can bear being dressed like a doll by Mr Rochester'
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Social Class

  • Does not want her full inheritance - has to share it with her cousins
    • 'It would please and benefit me to have five thousand pounds; it would torment and oppress me to have twenty thousand'
  • Only marries Rochester when they are equal
    • 'if I had prospect of one day bringing Mr Rochester an accession of a fortune, I could better endure to be kept by him now'
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Position of women

  • Rochester believes he can toy with Jane's emotions
    • "You must see the carriage, Jane, and tell me if you don’t think it will suit Mrs. Rochester exactly"
  • Rochester locks Bertha away
    • 'I'll nail up the front door and board the lower windows; I'll give Mrs Poole two hundred pounds a year to live here with my wife'
  • Rochester tries to dress Jane up like a doll
    • 'With infinate difficutly, for he was stubborn as a stone, I persuaded him to make exchange in favour of a sober black satin and pearl-grey silk.'
    • 'he would yet see me glittering like a paterre'
  • St John believes it is his right to demand Jane to marry him
    • 'you are formed for labour, not for love'
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Position of women

  • John Reed has control over his mother - is aware of his rights to the house from a young age - demands fortune to settle debts
    • 'it is mine, or will be in a few years'
    • 'Oh, I wish he would cease tormenting with with letters asking for money' 
  • Mr Reed seems to have control over Mrs Reed after his death - must keep Jane in her house under his instruction
    • 'he bound me be vow to keep the creature'
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Rebellion vs conformity

  • Rebels against cruel treatment by John Reed and Mrs Reed
    • 'I resisted all the way; a new thing for me'
    • 'People think you are a good woman, but you are bad, hard hearted.You are deceitful'
    • 'i stood there alone - winner of the field'
  • Conforms to the way of life at Lowood
    • 'i would now not now have exchanged Lowood with all its privataions for Gateshead and its daily luxuries'
  • At first does not accept Helen's belief that they should endure thier suffering
    • 'if people were always kind and obidient to those who are wicked and unjust, the wicked people would have it all thier own way' 
  • Confroms to society by leaving Rochester
    • 'Mr Rochester, I will not be yours'
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Rebellion vs Conformity

  • Rebels against Rochesters wishes by leaving
    • 'I am no bird and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independant'
  • Rebels against St John - refuses to marry him 
    • 'i will give my heart to god. you do not want it'
  • Confroms to Rochester's wishes by marrying him 
    • 'Reader, I married him'
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Reason vs feeling

  • St John suppresses feeling with reason 
    • 'reason is my guide'
  • Jane suppresses her feelings for Rochester
    • 'Sense would resist delierium: judgemetn would warn passion'
  • Jane lets her passion take over her when she agrees to marry Rochester
    • 'you think because I am poor, obscure, plain and little that I have no feeling?'
  • after the broken wedding, Jane uses her reason to pursuade herself to leave
    • 'your heart will be the victim, and you the preist to tranfix it'
    • 'I do love you, more than ever; but i must not show or indulge this feeling'
  • Jane refuses his offer for her to live with him as mistress
    • 'I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will rescept myself; I will obey the law given by God'  
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Reason vs Feeling

  • Only marries Rochester when she feels she can be useful
    • 'there was a pleasure in my services, most full, most exquiste, even though sad - because he claimed these services without painful shame or damping humiliation'
  • Jane is tempted to go to India with St John if it is the will of god, but realises that this would have been in error of judgement
    • 'The glen and sky spun round: the heavens heaved. It was as if I had heard a summons from heaven'
    • 'To have yeilded would have been an error of principle; to have yielded now would have been an error of judgement'
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Fire vs Ice/Heat vs Cold

  • Gateshead is misty and wet - misery
  • 'eye of ice continued to dwell freezingly' - confrontation with Mrs Reed
  • 'the fury of which she was incapable had been burned in my soul all day' - passion
  • 'fits of chilling hauteur' - Bertha's laughter
  • 'I was chilled with fear' - hears Bertha 
  • Bertha burns Rochesters bed
    • 'Strange energy was in his voice' - a strange fire in his look'
  • Thornfield - 'a general blending of snow and fire'
  • Fire at Thorfield'
    • my blood was already running cold'
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Fire vs Ice

St John -

  • 'cold, hard man' 
  • 'cold of an iceburg'
  • 'burnt for the more active life of the world'
  • 'his solemn melt with sudden fire, and flicker with resistless emotion' 
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Treatment of children

  • Mrs Reed pampers John
    • 'his mamma had taken him home for a month or two 'on accont of his dleicate health
    • Mr Miles, the master, affirmed that he would do very weell if he had fewer cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home' 
    • 'the mother's heart turned from an opinion so harsh, and inclined rather to the more refined idea that john's sallowness was owing to over-application, and, perhaps, to pining after home'  
  • Rochester's indifference to Adele
    • 'I am not fond of the prattle of children'
    • It would be intolerable to me to pass the whole evening to pass tete a tete with a brat'
  • Mrs Reeds attitude to Jane
    • 'She really I must exclude me from priviliges intended for contented, happy little children' 
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Treatment of Children

  • Adeles mother abandons her
    • 'she abandoned her child, and ran away to Italy with a musician or singer'
  • Jane loves Adele but sends her to school when she marries Rochester
    • 'I sought out a school conducted on a more indulgent system'
    • 'my time and cares were now required by another - my husband needed them all'
    • 'As she grew up, a sound English education corrected in a great measure her French defects' 
  • Jane thinks she is above teaching poor men's children
    • 'some of them are unmannered, rough, intractable, as well as ignorant'
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Love vs autonomy

  • Cannot surpress her feelings for Rochester
    • 'I had not intended to love him: the reader knows I have wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and no, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong!' 
    • 'He made me love him without looking at me."
    • 'I have told you, reader, that I had learnt to love Mr. Rochester: I could not unlove him now, merely because I found that he had ceased to notice me'
  • Refuses to marry Rochester - doesnt want to sacrifice her integrety for love
    • 'I am a bird, and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independant will'
    • 'The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God'
    • 'To have yielded would have been an error of principle'
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Love vs autonomy

  • Refuses to marry St John because she does not love him - denies what St John claims is duty 
    • 'I will give my heart to God. You do not want it'
    • 'I scorn your idea of love'
  • St John - does not marry Rosamond Oliver because he would be sacrificing his duty to the church
    • 'that heart is already laid on the sacred altar'
    • 'I experience at the same time a calm, unwarped consciousness that she would not make me a good wife' 
    • 'Must I relinquish that? It is dearer than the blood in my veins. It is what i have to look forward to, and to live for' 
  • Only marries Rochester when they are equals
    • 'Quite rich, sir. If you wont let me live with you, I can build a house of my own close up to your door, and you may come and sit in my parlour when you want company of an evening'  
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Gothic novel

  • Thornfield - gloomy 
    • 'wide halls, dark and spacious staircases and long cold galleries'
    • 'No dust, no canvas coverings: except that the air feels chilly, one would think they were inhabited daily' 
    • ‘the drawing room yonder feels like a vault'
    • 'narrow, low and dim, with only one little window at the far end, and looking, with its two rows of small black doors all shut, like a corridoor in some Bluebeard's castle'
  • Innocent heroine Jane is often frightened by odd occurances
    • 'I was chilled with fear'
    • 'My pulse stopped; my heart stood still; my stretch arm was paralysed'
  • The red room
    • 'a sound filled my ears, with I deemed a rushing of wings'
    • 'I began to recall what I had heard of dead men, troubled in thier graves by the violation of thier last wish, revisting the earth to perjured and avenge the oppresed'  
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Gothic novel

  • Dark images in Jane's head
    • 'the black, horned thing seated aloof on the rock, surveying a distant crowd surronding the gallows'
    • 'two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I believed to be marine phantoms'
  • Encounter with Rochester
    • 'a North-of-Engalnd spirit, called a Gytrash; which, in from of horse, mule, or large dog, haunted in solitary ways, and sometimes came upon belated travellers'
    • It was exactly one mask of Bessie's Gytrash - lion-like creature with long hair and a huge head' 
  • Eerie laughter
    • 'it was a curious laugh - distinct, formal, mirthless'
    • 'clamourous peel'
    • 'goblin-like laughter'
    • 'This was a demonaic laugh - low, suppressed and deep'
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Byronic hero

  • Not traditionally good looking
    • 'His shape, now divested of cloak, I perceived harmonised in squareness with his physiognomy: I suppose it was a good figure in the athletic sense of the term—broad chested and thin flanked, though neither tall nor graceful.”
  • Broody - Rochester often loses his temper 
    • “He was, in short, in his after-dinner mood; more expanded and genial, and also more self-indulgent than the frigid and rigid temper of the morning
  • Rochester is well traveled and had trouble abroad
    • 'For ten long years I roved about, first in one capital, then another: sometimes in St Petersburg, oftener in Paris, occasionally in Rome Naples and Florence'
  • Uses his intelligence to dominate people
    • 'You never felt jealousy, did you, Miss Eyre? Of course not: I need not ask you; because you never felt love. You have both sentiments yet to experience: your soul sleeps; the shock is yet to be given which shall waken it.'
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Byronic hero

  • Wanderer
    • I don't think he has ever been resident at Thornfield for a fortnight together, since the death of his brother without a will left him master of the estate; and, indeed, no wonder he shuns the old place." 
  • Doesn't follow moral and social rules
    • 'I keep telling her that i am not married, and do not explain to her why. I forget that she knows nothing of the character of the woman, or of the circumstances attending my infernal union with her. Oh, I am certain that Jane will agree with me in opinion, when she knows all I know'
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ashiki unadkat

Brilliant thanks 

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