Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre can be linked to many fairy-tales. Some of these tales such as Charle’s Perrault’s Bluebeard, Arabian Nights, and many more are actually cited in the text. Others are alluded to through the events that take place in the story. Jane Eyre has often been viewed as a Cinderellatale for example. There is also another story, however, that though not mentioned directly, can definitely be linked to Bronte’s novel. This tale is none other than Beauty and the Beast, which was part of one of Perrault’s compilations. Bronte uses the ideas and themes of Beauty and the Beast to reveal the importance of inner beauty and to make a point that it’s what’s inside a person that counts. The beauty that can be found through outward appearance is superficial. A person’s inner beauty as shown through the relationship of Jane and Rochester can overcome society’s ideas of what constitute being beautiful.
We know that Bronte was familiar with Perrault’s works because she explicitly refers to another of Perrault’s tales, Bluebeard when exploring Thornfield’s third story. Also there is another connection to Perrault. Elizabeth Imlay through her study of Jane Eyre and fairy tales unveiled a fascinating connection. She questioned the idea that Jane’s French teacher, Madame Pierrot could in fact be a reference to Perrault himself. Jane talks about a French storybook when attending Lowood. She says, "I examined, too, in thought, the possibility of my ever being able to translate currently a certain little French story--book which Madame Pierrot had that day shown me" (83; ch. 8). Imlay argues that, "The title of the little French story--book promised to Jane by Madame Pierrot is not revealed, although [. . .] Pie...
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...auty is on the inside. She did not need to make Jane or Rochester beautiful in the end because that would defeat and contradict her purpose. Bronte uses the motifs in Beauty and the Beast and modifies them to help strengthen her views of the importance of inner beauty over outward appearance. As Jane mentions in the novel, "Most true is it that beauty is in the eye of the gazer" (177; ch.177).
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1996.
Imlay, Elizabeth. Charlotte Bronte: and the Mysteries of Love. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989.
LePrince de Beaumont, Jeanne-Marie. Beauty and the Beast. Ed. D.L. Ashliman. 6 October 2001. U of Pittsburgh. 1 March 2003 .
Schwingen, Mary. "Fantasy, Realism, and Narrative in Jane Eyre and Alice in Wonderland." Victorian Web. May 1994. National U of Singapore. 2 March 2003.
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