Charlotte Bronte is one of the most famous female writers in Victorian Age, and her autobiographical novel Jane Eyre is one of the most popular classics in world literature since it was published in 1847. Jane Eyre draws attentions of readers from a variety of classes throughout the world. Queen Victory, one of them, wrote in her diary:
August 2. We read in Jane Eyre, which proved so interesting that we went on till quite late. It was the part in which comes the moment of her finding Rochester again, blind, and with the loss of a hand!
November 23. Finished Jane Eyre, which is really a wonderful book, very peculiar in parts, but so powerfully and admirably written such a fine tone in it, such fine religious feeling, and such beautiful writings. The description of the mysterious maniac’s nightly appearances awfully thrilling. Mr. Rochester’s character a very remarkable one, and Jane Eyre’s herself a beautiful one. The end is very touching, when Jane Eyre returns to him and finds him blind, with one hand gone from injuries during the fire in his house, which was caused by his mad wife. (http://www.thebrontes.net/victoria-je)
We can see from Queen Victory’s diary that Jane Eyre wins great popularity and naturally readers are glad to write reviews on this novel and make comments about Charlotte. Today, there are hundreds of Bronte associations and thousands of independent critics that do research on Charlotte Bronte and her novels. Among those research subjects, some are on the characteristics, believes, and values of the protagonist Jane Eyre or the novel’s background and influence on the society of its time; some are on the author Charlotte Bronte’s religion believes, feminism attitudes, and her influence on Victorian novels. But there are only a few researches on the relationships between Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre, and these researches are mainly on the similarities of Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre. For example, London Times (http://www.gorillatheatre.com/press070207.php) puts it “You feel you are looking into the heart of Bronte herself”; Li Xiaoyan (2008) points out that “It is generally considered that Jane Eyre is Charlotte Bronte’s poetic life portrayal”; and Li Meiju (2009) says “Jane Eyre is the image of Charlotte Bronte’s own experiences. The characters Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte are almost mirrors of each other.”
Because Jane Eyre is an autobiographical novel, there are lot resemblances and similar experiences between the protagonist Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre and the author Charlotte Bronte: thus, many readers take it for granted that Jane Eyre is Charlotte Bronte herself.
However, Charlotte Bronte declared that Jane Eyre was not herself:
I will prove to you that you are wrong; I will show you a heroine as plain and as small as myself, who shall be as interesting as any of yours, but she is not myself, any further than that. (The Life of Charlotte Brontë, P280)
So, there is a need to explore the relationship between Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre. And Luckily, Charlotte Bronte left many letters and her close friend Elizabeth Gaskell, who is also a famous novelist, wrote The Life of Charlotte Bronte, a biography of Charlotte Bronte. That, together with other researches on Charlotte Bronte, provides plenty of materials for me to make a comparative study of the great authoress and the protagonist in Jane Eyre.
In the first part of this paper, there will be introductions about Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre, through which an overview of the two can be acknowledged. In the second part of this paper, comparisons of life experiences, love, and characteristics between Charlotte and Jane Eyre will be made. Through the comparisons, exaggerated parts and subtle differences in Jane Eyre will be pointed out. In the third part, analyze of the results of the comparisons will explain why there are differences between Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre, and why Jane Eyre is Charlotte Bronte herself in Charlotte Bronte’s ideal life.