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Gothic Elements Of Jane Eyre By Emily Bronte

3342 words - 13 pages

Gothic Elements of Jane Eyre by Emily Bronte

The term 'Gothic' was popularly used in the late 18th century and
throughout the 19th century and came to mean 'wild' or 'barbaric'. It
was used to describe a distinct style of literature, which, in
contrast to the strict moral codes of the time, allowed the author to
introduce a novel full of wildness, passion and fantasy and to thrill
their readers with tales of supernatural events and forbidden love.
Gothic novels were often set in mysterious castles or remote, sinister
mansions and involved a stereotypical hero, heroine, villain and
monster. Using this definition as a comparison, we can see that the
novel 'Jane Eyre' contains many Gothic features, although Charlotte
Brontë did not intend to merely write another Gothic fantasy. Brontë
had a deeper meaning and message to convey, one that reflected the
circumstances and experiences of her own life and her frustration with
the constraints of class and social status. Brontë included Gothic
elements to ensure the ideas reached the maximum audience possible,
although some of the Gothic aspects are essential to the plot.

Throughout the novel Brontë uses a wide variety of Gothic settings.
One of the most prominent and traditionally Gothic is that of
Thornfield manor. It conforms to the idea of 'romantic isolation' as
Jane says: "I was a mile from Thornfield. Far and wide, on each side,
there were only fields. Hay was yet a mile distant." This gives a
sense of spatial distance and remoteness and isolates Thornfield from
the outside world. The very name of the place comprising the word
"Thorn" implies that this will be a difficult house in which to live
and by choosing this name Brontë has already suggested to the reader
that Jane will have a difficult time here. The remote setting for
Thornfield allows many events to occur in the house that would be in
keeping with the Gothic theme.

Brontë is able to introduce another of the typical Gothic features, a
'monster', namely Rochester's mad wife. Thornfield's isolated location
means that local people would have scant knowledge of what happened
within its walls, and there would therefore be an air of mystery
surrounding it. No one in the nearby village knows exactly who the
insane person housed in Thornfield is, but there are "whisperings that
she is Mr. Rochester's bastard half-sister: or cast off mistress". The
fact that Thornfield is a large manor with several floors and
countless rooms also makes it the perfect place for someone to be
hidden away and kept secret. Mr. Rochester and the other servants in
the house keep the knowledge of Mrs. Rochester from Jane by preventing
her from entering the third floor and therefore the room with Mrs.
Rochester in it:

"I must pay a visit to the third storey. Don't move, remember, or call
...

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