How can Jane Eyre be read as a romantic novel?
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There are many ways in which this novel could be viewed as being romantic. First and foremost, Jane is a character who lives a kind of Cinderella existence, moving from rags to riches in a way that is highly reminiscent of many fairy tales. Secondly, it is important to note the massive influence that folk legends, fairy tales and such stories have on the plot. Note, for example, what Jane thinks just before she meets Mr. Rochester for the first time in Chapter 12, as she is walking back to Thornfield Hall and hears the sound of a beast approaching in the dusk:
In those days I was young, and all sorts of fancies bright and dark tenantedmy mind: the memories of nursery stories were there amongst other rubbish; and when they recurred, maturing youth added to them a vigour and vividness beyond what childhood could give.
This causes Jane to thinnk of the legend of the "Gytrash" that Bessie had told her about, and gives the reader a sense of how Jane as a character, for all of her practical nature, also has a very romantic vein in her mind that causes her to see such situations in a fantastical manner. Finally, the novel is a romance in the way that Jane finds her man, seems to be on the point of achieving happiness, only to find that marriage is impossible. What is different therefore is the way in which Jane does achieve her happy ending, but she refuses to do it on the terms of anybody else except her own: she does not become Rochester's mistress, but waits until she can be his wife.
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