In Which I Freak Out About the Harry Potter Parallels in Jane Eyre

Posted October 5, 2015 by LeahAdmin in Reviews / 19 Comments

Jane Eyre Parallels in Harry Potter
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Published by Penguin Classics on 1847
Pages: 578
Genres: Classics
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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In the 16 years since I first cracked open a Harry Potter book, I’ve seen the series compared to Lord of the RingsChronicles of Narnia, The BibleStar Wars, and numerous other cultural touchstones. As an avid Potter fan (with the tattoo to prove it), I thought I had a pretty good handle on J.K. Rowling’s influences. And yet, I recently read a classic to which Harry Potter has startlingly obvious parallels that I’ve never heard anyone talk about. (Even the Harry Potter Influences and Analogues Wikipedia page neglects to mention it.*) That classic is… Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte!

I’ve been meaning to read Jane Eyre for years, and I finally took the plunge last month. Within a few pages, I had an odd sense of deja vu; some of the details of young orphan Jane’s life seemed awfully familiar. As I turned the pages, more and more parallels to the life of a certain boy wizard kept jumping out at me, and I possibly got way too excited about them.

Let’s take a look at how Jane Eyre is basically a Victorian Harry Potter, minus the magic:

1. After being orphaned as a baby, Jane Eyre is sent to live with her mother’s brother and his wife.

After being orphaned as a baby, Harry Potter is sent to live with his mother’s sister and her husband.

2. When Jane’s uncle dies a year later, he makes her aunt promise to raise Jane like one of her own daughters. But her aunt treats her horribly, withholding affection and locking Jane in the “red room” when she misbehaves.

Dumbledore entreats the Dursleys to raise Harry as a son, but both guardians treat him horribly, withholding affection and locking him in a cupboard under the stairs when he misbehaves.

3. Jane is also bullied by her cousins, one of whom is a rather corpulent boy.

Harry is bullied by his cousin Dudley, who is so rotund that when Hagrid tries to turn him into a pig, Dudley merely grows a tail. (“I suppose he was so much like a pig anyway there wasn’t much left ter do,” says Hagrid.)

4. Everything changes for Jane when a doctor suggests she be sent away to boarding school. Jane flourishes at school, finally making close friends and discovering a love of learning.

Everything changes for Harry when he receives a letter admitting him to Hogwarts, a boarding school for wizards. Harry flourishes at school, finally making close friends and foiling the plans of dark lords.

The similarities basically end there, but Harry and Jane are basically the same person, right? And how fun is it to happen across literary parallels you didn’t know existed? My brain basically did this for the first 50 pages:

Have I missed any glaring (or not-so-glaring) similarities between the two books?

EDIT: I can’t stop trying to make HP connections, and I came up with another one!

5. Near the end of the book, one character loses his eyesight, has one of his limbs amputated, and becomes quite disfigured. He’s definitely Mad Eye Moody, right?

*I’m not the first person to notice the similarities; a quick Google search turns up a fair number of results.

 

  • Terra

    Wonderful parallels in the plots of the two books, your post made me smile.

  • Yes, I love this!

  • Lindsey Stefan

    I never thought of that, but you make some good points!

  • Ooooh, you have uncovered something! Love this!

  • Amanda

    I love this!

  • So I’ve started Jane Eyre maybe two or three times in my life, and I’ve *definitely* read far enough to have hit on all the plot points here… and yet I never made the connection! When I finally get around to reading Jane cover-to-cover, I’ll just be waiting for her to whip out her wand and Polyjuice potion. 😉

  • Personally, I feel it is impossible to get “too” excited about reading/literature/books!! 🙂 This is a wonderful analysis! Now I can’t wait to reread JE! I am jealous of the HP tattoo!! That is one of my favorite literary series EVER!!

    • I tend to agree with you, but my excitement about books has gotten me some rather strange looks on occasion.

  • I can’t believe I’ve never seen this before. You’re right: Jane Eyre = Harry Potter.

    Also, please give us more details about your HP tattoo.

    • I have the three little stars that are next to the chapter title at the top of every page in the books. Like this, but on my foot. I don’t know how I never got around to posting about it!

  • I didn’t recognize this at all, but that is pretty uncanny.

  • I think the orphaned and treated horribly thing is probably a common story. Your parallels remind me of both A Little Princess and Cinderella right away 🙂