How is Jane Eyre, in Charlotte Brontë's novel, Jane Eyre, a modern-day Sleeping Beauty?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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This is an interesting question.

In the story of Sleeping Beauty, the young princess (named Helen) becomes the object of hate by one fairy who is inadvertently insulted at the banquet to celebrate Helen's birth. The fairy is malevolent and curses the infant. The last of the good fairies (the twelfth), cannot break the spell, but can make sure that the princess does not die of the curse. At the age of fifteen, the curse is enacted, and the princess falls asleep (as do the people and animals within the castle walls) for one hundred years. During this time, thorn bushes grow around the castle prohibiting the entrance of any prince trying to save her. During the last year, another prince approaches. The thorn bushes open for him, he finds the princess and awakens her with a kiss. They marry and "live happily ever after."

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, can be considered similar in a few ways. First, Jane (like Sleeping Beauty) is hated by her Aunt Reed out of pure spite, and the "curse" will eventually come at her hand. The housekeeper Bessie seems to care for the young orphan, and might be seen as the twelfth fairy who does her best to soften the curse. Eventually, at Aunt Reed's hand, the curse falls on Jane when her aunt sends her away to Lowood School for orphans. Convinced that she is evil, Jane is punished daily by Mr. Brocklehurst, the school's overseer. Instead of sleeping for one hundred years, Jane is separated from happiness for a very long time.

Prince Charming might be seen as Mr. Rochester of Thornwood (ironic that the estate is "Thorn-"wood, whereas the castle in the fairytale is surrounded by thorns...), however, in his present circumstances, he cannot save Jane: he is already married.

The character of St. John Rivers may be seen as one of the princes who attempts to save Jane (the "princess"), but there is no love between them and she rejects his marriage proposal. Jane discovers she is related to the Rivers family, and that they all have inherited money from their Uncle John, which solves Jane's financial worries, however, she is still "cursed." Then one night she hears Rochester's voice calling to her on the wind. She returns to Thornwood, and the curse has been spent: the house has been burned to the ground and Edward's wife is dead. He now becomes Prince Charming as he is humbled by his circumstances, but still loves Jane, and she still loves him. They may now start to build their lives together.

These are the similarities I see between the two stories.

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