Jane Eyre as a Gothic Novel

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Jane Eyre is a notable literary work by Charlotte Brontë. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Jane Eyre.


Jane Eyre as a Gothic Novel

A Gothic Novel is a literary genre characterized by elements of mystery, horror, and the supernatural. It is set in dark and fearful settings such as castles, mansions, or remote landscapes. This genre emerged in the late 18th century and gained popularity throughout the 19th century. One of the most iconic examples of a Gothic Novel is Charlotte Brontë’s (1816-1855) “Jane Eyre,” published in 1847. “Jane Eyre” interweaves together the elements of the Gothic genre while also exploring complex themes of social class, morality, and the role of women in society. Here is a discussion of how “Jane Eyre” fits the gothic novel genre:

Dark and Mysterious Settings: The novel features several gothic settings, including the terrifying Red Room. The Gothic elements are evident when Jane is locked inside the Red Room as a punishment by her aunt, Mrs. Reed. The Red Room has a frightening atmosphere where her Uncle Reed died. Its connection with death and garish red decor, the room is cold and silent, heightening Jane’s terror. Her terror climaxes when she imagines Uncle Reed’s ghost in the room. Jane narrates her terrifying experience in the Red Room,

“All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: … the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the effect of a real spirit.”

Moreover, the imposing and gloomy Lowood School, the eerie Thornfield Hall, and the desolate Moor House are often wrapped in darkness, fog, and secrets, creating an atmosphere of suspense and foreboding.

Isolated and Vulnerable Protagonist: The novel’s protagonist, Jane Eyre, is the classic gothic heroine. She is an orphan who is mistreated and isolated. It makes her vulnerable to the mysterious and potentially dangerous events around her. Her emotional and physical struggles contribute to the gothic tone.

Enigmatic and Brooding Male Figure: Mr. Rochester, the owner of Thornfield Hall, embodies the gothic trope of the mysterious and brooding male figure. His dark past, hidden secrets, and strange and unsettling behaviour add to the novel’s gothic elements. The presence of the mysterious woman in the attic, Bertha Mason, also contributes to the intrigue surrounding Rochester.

“In the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight tell:”

Jane describes Bertha Mason when she visits oher for the first time after her wedding to Rochester has been halted.

Romantic and Supernatural Elements: “Jane Eyre” features a central love story between Jane and Mr. Rochester, both passionate but forbidden due to their obstacles. The novel also includes supernatural elements, such as Jane’s eerie encounters with Bertha Mason and her vivid dreams, which blur the line between reality and the supernatural.

Themes of Madness and Isolation: Madness is a recurring theme in gothic literature, and Bertha Mason’s confinement in the attic of Thornfield Hall symbolizes the theme of madness and isolation. The novel explores the consequences of societal repression and isolation on the human psyche.

Symbolism and Imagery: Gothic novels use symbolism and vivid imagery to create a sense of anxiety and mystery. “Jane Eyre” uses symbols like the red room, the madwoman in the attic, and the recurring motif of fire to convey deeper themes and emotions.

Atmosphere of Fear and Uncertainty: Throughout the novel, there is a pervasive atmosphere of fear, uncertainty, and tension. The reader is constantly on edge, unsure of what secrets will be revealed and what dangers creep in the shadows.

“Jane Eyre” comprises many key elements and themes of gothic literature, including dark and mysterious settings, isolated and vulnerable characters, enigmatic male figures, romantic and supernatural elements, madness and isolation, symbolism, and an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. These gothic elements contribute to the novel’s enduring appeal and its status as a classic in the genre.