If The Shoe Fits: 19th Century Fairy Tale

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Deborah Zhuang AP Lit & Comp Vescovi (2nd) November 8, 2015 If The Shoe Fits: Jane Eyre, a 19th Century Fairy Tale Centuries before the rise of Western civilization, Greek mythology set the precedent for writers to come when it introduced the concept of writing not solely for academic investigation, but pure public entertainment, packed with glorious scenes of battle and tender moments between the hero and his damsel in distress. Such fictional tales have been a popular addition to everyone’s bookshelves for ages, and have inspired many authors subsequently to deliver similar fantasy-filled journeys of dreamlike action and romance. In the world of charming princes, beautiful princesses, and happily ever afters, Jane Eyre may not seem like the…show more content…
Rather than giving her protagonists a similarly easy win, Brontë puts them through a trial by fire, literally, to force them to prove their true individual feelings. Fires in nature, while initially seen as destructive, are actually a positive method of purification—the ashes of the old trees that are burned away makes way and enrich the grounds for new growth to begin, and the entire ecosystem is rejuvenated. They represent a fresh start, cleansing the environment of evil. The fire at Thornfield Hall, too, has rid Mr. Rochester of what has haunted him for years. In a Luke Skywalker-esque moment, Mr. Rochester loses his hand confronting his demons—but rather than his estranged father, for him, he takes on his crazy wife. He tries to save Bertha too one last time, before she plummets to her fiery death. Sacrificing his own safety in order to get others out of danger first, Mr. Rochester is blinded and crippled by the crumbling house. He’s scarred by these images and spends time grieving his losses, and whether by fate or coincidence, it brings him and Jane back together. As Jane enters his chambers, Mr. Rochester immediately recognizes her voice, comparable to how Prince Charming finally identifies Cinderella by slipping the glass slipper onto her foot. However, this context subverts many of the tropes in fairy tales where the woman helplessly waits for her prince to save her. In Jane Eyre, the roles are reversed, and Jane gets to save her feeble husband from further anguish. But before doing so, Jane learns to live independently and earns her own fortune, setting herself on more equal ground with Mr. Rochester first to ascertain her genuine feelings for him. They’re relationship grows stronger still, when they are socioeconomic equals and Jane feels that she is able to aid him
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