In Jane Eyre, can we call Jane a gothic heroine?
"There is usually a mood of mystery or suspense, and an innocent heroine is almost always threatened with some unspeakable horror." One explanation of Gothisim.
I think being misteress of Mr.Rochester awakes unpspeakable horror in Jane's mind because this kind of relationship is not approved by both socially and religiously.
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A gothic heroine is one who often "aims to socialize and educate its female readers and is usually morally conservative." Those qualities certainly define Jane. She is an educated woman who did well in school and, although single, she is able to earn her living by her brains. She is also morally conservative as witnessed by the fact that she will not live with Rochester once she finds out he is married. "Yet the Female Gothic can also express criticism of patriarchal, male-dominated structures and serve as an expression of female independence." Jane is victimized by Mr. Brocklehurst and, in a sense, by Rochester when he hides the fact of his marriage. She flees Rochester and is able to assert her independence as a school teacher and even declines an offer of marriage by St. John Rivers because she does not love him. She becomes an independent woman, who then freely chooses to return to Thornfield and marry Rochester after finding his first wife is dead. But when she returns, she returns as an equal, having inherited her uncle's fortune. I think we can say that Jane is definitely a gothic heroine.
Jane Eyre as a novel does have shades of the Gothic horror genre especially in its changing spatial frames from Gateshead to Thornfield to the burnt Thornfield later. The Red Room experience early on as well as the entire stay at Thornfield Hall with the spectre of Bertha Mason haunting the Gothic mansion, the novel does make use of this genre, but to call Jane a Gothic heroine would be isolating one element in her figure and turning it into an absolute.
She is like the Gothic heroine, a damsell in distress, but the odds she faces are not psychic or supernatural odds, but social odds too. Recently, Gothic heroine has also been seen as a representation of the patriarchal power system, but in Jane Eyre, whether it is the psychological or the paranormal or sociological level of Jane's quest, hers is a real success story. The Gothic element brings in an element of metaphysical justice to her achieved condition at the end of the novel. Bertha is like a potential Other, she has to overcome as a spectral figure to become the non-Bertha, a proto-feminist success-story.
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