Summary of Clarke's "Bronte's Jane Eyre and the Grimms' Cinderella

1352 Words Feb 20th, 2012 6 Pages
Clarke, Micael M. "Bronte's Jane Eyre and the Grimms' Cinderella." SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900. 40.4 (2000): 695-710.

Clarke explores the similarities and importance of Brontë’s use of the Grimms’ version of Cinderella within the story of Jane Eyre. She outlines how the two stories are parallel and then skillfully explores the symbolism that is present in both. Through her analysis of the ways the two stories are similar, Clarke concludes that the combination of the Grimms’ Cinderella within Jane Eyre allowed Brontë to critique and explore societal views and treatment of women as well as question and suggest alternative religious views such as those of a maternalist system.
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Clarke then jumps into the parallels between Cinderella and Jane Eyre. One of the general parallels is that of the lost mothers and cruel mother substitutes, Aunt Reed in the place of the stepmother and Eliza and Georgiana as the stepsister. There is also the fact that both are treated as servants in that they do the cleaning, cooking, and so on. They both are restricted from observing pleasures or never being allowed to participate in them with everyone else, and even being exiled when the prince, or in Jane Eyre’s case Rochester, is entertaining women to find a suitable wife. They both undergo a testing of seemingly demeaning feminine tasks and are present as unattractive for they wear dull and dirty clothing and they, Jane Eyre and Cinderella, both dream of escaping to the gaiety of the ball. Clarke asserts that the resemblance to the Grimms’ version is significant; not only in these general resemblances but in that it includes religious and mythic elements that are not present in the French version. These religious elements, such as the mother in heaven and the suffering daughter on earth, are infused throughout the entire novel of Jane Eyre. In the Grimms’ version, Cinderella leaves the ball because she wishes to, unlike the French version in which Cinderella must leave by midnight because of the magic wearing off and to avoid public

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