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How is Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre a gothic novel?

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Mariam_khaled74 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM via web

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How is Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre a gothic novel?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 23, 2013 at 10:57 PM (Answer #1)

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While Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is not traditionally (and singularly) considered a Gothic novel. It is, rather, a "trifecta" (triple) of sorts. The novel is Gothic (mysterious regarding character and setting), romantic (regarding love and relationships), and a Bildungsroman (regarding Jane's development over the course of the text). 

A typical Gothic text focuses upon "ruin, decay, death, terror, and chaos, and privileged irrationality and passion over rationality and reason" (eNotes "Gothic Literature Study--"Introduction"). The setting shows "in large, often ruined, castles" (eNotes "Gothic Literature Study--"In-Depth). In Jane Eyre, the character of Edward Fairfax Rochester, while he begins the novel as handsome, he is broken and blind by the end of the novel. Essentially, Rochester is in ruin. His home, so dank and green were its decaying walls," illustrates the ruin typical of the Gothic novel. Readers also face the mysterious nature of the things which happen in the home (as with the mysterious sounds and the fire). Bertha Mason Rochester, Rocherster's deranged wife, sparks the most mystery. Readers question who she is, what her position is, and why she lives at Rocherster's in the first place. 

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