Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre as a Cinderella Story
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre can be characterized in many ways as a variation of Cinderella. There are several versions of this popular fairy--tale. At the time Bronte’s novel was published, the Grimms’ book of tales, which included Cinderella, was very popular. According to Sally Mitchell, "The serious interest in folklore was spurred by the translation, in 1823, of the stories collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm." A version of Cinderella was also written by Charles Perrault. Both Perrault’s and the Grimms’ tales have a place in Bronte’s narrative. There is no specific evidence of her reading these yet, "Bronte could easily have known two versions of the Cinderella tale: the Grimms’ version, and Charles Perrault’s Cendrillon, first published in France in 1697 in Histories ou Contes du Temps Passe. Bronte read both French and German and could have read both versions either in English or in their original publication languages" (Clarke 696). From the textual evidence it’s obvious she connects her story to both. Although as Clarke argues she focuses more on the Grimms’ version. He makes the claim that, "This resemblance to the German Cinderella tale provides an important key to Bronte’s ethic of female intelligence, activity, pleasure, and integrity" (Clarke 696). By using fairy tales Bronte could also connect to her readers who were most likely familiar with them. Charlotte Bronte spins her own Cinderella tale through the text of Jane Eyre to reveal that the goodhearted girl who is kept down by society does in fact succeed in the end. Although Jane is held back by her family and society in general, her true virtue and goodness help her overcome her struggles and rise above...
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.... She chooses to take the focus away from the importance of outer features and concentrate on the inner beauty and strength of her characters. This thematic element can be related to Beauty and the Beast. Charlotte Bronte definitely links her story with Cinderella in many ways. She chooses however to twist the ideas found in this tale and show that goodness and virtue can be rewarded without the aide of outer beauty or even fairy Godmothers.
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1996.
Clarke, Michael M. "Bronte’s Jane Eyre and the Grimms’ Cinderella." Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 40 (2000): 695-710.
Imlay, Elizabeth. Charlotte Bronte and the Mysteries of Love. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989.
Mitchell, Sally. "Books for Children." Victorian Web. July 2002. National U of Singapore. 2 March 2003.