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Gionti/AP English

Fairy Tales and Jane Eyre


The story line of Jane Eyre contains many similarities to several wellknown fairy tales. As we read the novel, it is important to have a solid
understanding of these tales.
Directions: For this assignment, you will research four fairy tales,
making a chart containing the information. This chart will help with your
analysis of how these allusions contribute to plot, theme and
characterization in the novel.
Make a chart with information about the following fairy tales:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Cinderella (Reference the Grimms Brothers version)


Sleeping Beauty
Bluebeard
Beauty and the Beast
Little Red Riding Hood

In your chart, include the following information:

Characters
Basic plot summary (in your own words
about 150 of them)
Key symbols or items in the story
Themes of the work

The chart is due with your chart based on How to Read Lit Like a
Professor, when we finish the novel. Do not just copy a plot summary from an
online source. As this is an AP class, you should be reading the original fairy tales
and write your summary for there. The stories are all widely available online.

Gionti/AP English

Fairy Tales and Jane Eyre: Comparison


Chart
Fairy tale

Fairy tale brief summary

Where fairy tale is seen in Jane


Eyre (provide specific evidence)

Cinderella
(Grimm
Brothers
Version)

Cinderella lives with her


cruel stepmother and
stepsisters. Cinderella
slaves away until one
day, a king chooses her
to be his bride.

Jane also does not have


parents and lived with her aunt
and cousins who happen to be
cruel too.

Sleeping Beauty

A princess is placed in a
curse where she will die
before her 16th birthday.
A counter-curse is
placed for which the
princess must be kissed
by her true love.

Bessie can be seen as the 12th


fairy who cares for Helen, the
princess. Mr. Rochester can be
seen as Prince Charming and
his estate can be seen as the
castle in Jane Eyre.

Bluebeard

A wealthy royal has had


many different wives,
but no one knows what
happened to them until
his new wife reveals that
he had murdered all of
his former wives and
placed them in the
basement.

The allusion to Bluebeard can


be seen when Bertha escapes
from being locked up by Mr.
Rochester.

Why does Bronte allude to this


fairy tale? What does this tell us
about the character(s) and perhaps
the purpose of the work overall?
Bronte used this allusion to
Cinderella to foreshadow that Jane
will find happiness like how
Cinderella did. This allusion shows
that Jane Eyre has been influenced
by many major works.

Bronte used the allusion of


Sleeping Beauty and the princesss
curse to show that anything is
possible with perseverance. Jane
was able to defeat the Victorian
class system with the help of her
loved ones and a lot of
perseverance.
The purpose of this allusion is to
emphasize the feminist ideas of
Jane Eyre. It shows that women
were too complacent to men during
the Victorian era and did not strive
for independence.

Gionti/AP English
Beauty and the
Beast

Little Red Riding


Hood

A merchant asks his


daughters what they
want from his business
trip. The daughters want
materialistic objects
except for one, who asks
for her father to return
safely. The merchant
cuts a rose from a
garden for one of his
daughter, but a beast
appears and punishes
him to death for
stealing. He makes a
deal with the beast and
the daughters are
allowed to live with the
beast. One of the
daughter is magically
able to turn the beast
into a prince with her
true affection.
Little Red Riding Hood
was on her way to her
grandmothers house
when a rogue ninja wolf
beat her to her
grandmothers house,
jailed her grandmother,
and wore her clothes.
The wolf tried eating
Little Red Riding Hood
but with the help of
some woodcutters, they
defeated the wolf.

Mr. Rochester asks Jane if he is


handsome, but Jane frankly
answers that he is not.
However, physical appearances
become irrelevant later in the
story when Jane is able to
solidify a passionate
relationship with Mr. Rochester.

This allusion shows that true love


is not always about the appearance
of someone. Non-conflicting
personalities is more important for
a good relationship. Mr. Rochester
was not even handsome to Jane,
and he even becomes even uglier
later in the story when he loses his
fingers and hand in the fire, but
Jane had always been attracted to
him from the start.

Bronte directly refers to the


wolf when Jane talks back to
Mr. Brocklehurst at Lowood,
What a great nose! And what
a mouth! And what large,
prominent teeth! This direct
allusion is used to show that
Mr. Brocklehurst will be of no
help to Jane anywhere in the
story.

Personally, I felt that this


reference was trivial to the plot
development of Jane Eyre. It served
to provide a comic relief during
Janes gloomy time at Lowood as a
child.

Gionti/AP English

Why does Bronte allude to so many fairy tales in her novel? Consider what Foster said in How to Read
Literature Like a Professor in your response.

Bronte alluded to these fairy tales to emphasize the Victorian attitude


toward women and economic status. These inclusions require the
reader to have a decent knowledge of tales, but does not necessarily
take away meaning from the story without the knowledge. They also
provide flashes of comic relief in the ever-so gloomy life of Jane Eyre.