Louise Pound: A Folklore and Literature Miscellany


The 19th-century novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë has been frequently mined for its folkloric allusions, particularly the fairy tales that haunt the narrative's characterization, plot, and atmosphere. Moving beyond so-called motif spotting, this article will explore the ways in which two of the main fairy tale intertexts of the novel - "Beauty and the Beast" and "Bluebeard" - duel for supremacy in the reader's mind, creating a tension that ultimately determines reception. Drawing primarily on narrative and reader- response theory, we will argue that the uncertainty regarding exactly which fairy tale is being called upon allows Brontë to create an unexpectedly transgressive novel that uses familiar fairy tales to subvert narrative expectations.

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