1. Many critics claim that Jane Eyre created a new genre: the feminist fairytale (86), a genre that combines the Cinderella myth with a feminist tract, but romance novel scholar Pamela Regis argues that this is just a “backhanded naming of the romance novel, which can…include a feminist statement” (86). In what ways do you feel Jane Eyre reflects elements of a fairy tale, and in what ways is it a feminist statement? Are romance novels basically fairy tales anyway?
2. Compare the betrothal scenes in Jane Eyre and Rebecca:
Jane Eyre–Rochester: “My bride is here…because my equal is here…Jane, will you marry me?”
Rebecca–Max de Winter: “’Either you go to America with Mrs. Van Hopper or you come home to Manderley with me.’
Narrator: ‘Do you mean you want a secretary or something?’
Max de Winter: ‘No, I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool’” (52).
Neither of these betrothals come at the end of the story, and in Rebecca, it comes almost at the beginning. Given what you know about Rochester and Max when they proposed, what is your reaction to these betrothals? Do you see these men as romantic heroes? Explain your answer.
In response to the first questions I believe that Jane Eyre has both the quality’s of a fairly tale and feminist statements. At the beginning of the film Jane’s strong will and temperament is prevalent. She is independent as a young child and is independent when she leaves the orphanage on her own. She leaves Rochester and does not follow a man blindly. This is also presented when she does not automatically accept Mr. Rivers proposal of marriage. These elements can cause a reader to few Jane Eyre as a feminist. The fairy tale setting can see as she is an orphaned girl left to fend on her own, and eventually finding true love. By one of the requirements of a romance novel ending happily I think all romance novels are partially fairy tales.
I think Jane Eyre reflects certain elements of a fairytale mainly because in the beginning Jane is a child that is very upset and lost and in the end she is happy with her decision to return to him, but is it truly a happy ending? The house is burnt and he has gone blind, they may have ended up together but I think there could have been a happier ending which is how I think it differs from a fairly tale because all the fairy tales I have seen really have the happiest endings possible. I also think it differs from a fairytale because not all fairy tale’s end with falling in love, so i don’t think novels are fairy tales- but some of them certainly are. I also think maybe I don’t think of Jane Eyre as a fairytale because of how ‘dark’ it is, and I am not use to that in fairy tale’s.
When I think of fairytale, I think of happy endings and true love. So yes, I would say these novels could be considered fairytales. However, the struggle these heroines have to go through and their quest for independence add the feminist element that makes everything different. These heroines are not waiting to be “saved” necessarily; they’re just trying to live their lives as best as possible, they’re not depending on finding a man who will change their lives. Love happens for both of them and their plans change.
Answering the second question, my reactions to these betrothals, especially Rochester’s proposal was shocking! I could not help but laugh at his words. The desperation in his voice and the dramatic scene made it seem as if it were a matter of life or death almost. The heroes have found in these women a form of redemption. They need to be saved from their own lives, and they have found hope in these women. I feel they become romantic heroes later on, but this alone does not show it. They’re putting the heroines in the spot, and pretty much go for it without any preamble. That to me is not romanticism, but desperation. Something that we saw in Pride and Prejudice, and Darcy’s first proposal.