Is Jane Eyre a gothic novel? If so, in what way?

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jane Eyre is not traditionally catagorized as a gothic novel, but it does contain several gothic elements. It is generally considered to be more socially and psychologically driven than those novels established as specifically "gothic". Th implication is that gothic novels are less well-developed, and perhaps less well-written than Jane Eyre. Yet Bronte makes use of certain aspects of gothic literature in her text.

One such aspect is melodrama, which Jane Eyre certainly employs. Jane's situation as a child, at both Gateshead Hall and Lowood Institution, is one of loneliness and isolation, with dramatic architecture and possibly evil authority figures thrown in. The entire courtship of Jane and Rochester involves melodrama, with lots of tears, secrets, passionate encounters, and flights across the unforgiving wilderness. The setting itself is another gothic consideration. The wild landscape of Jane's life plays an important role, such as during her aforementioned flight. The storm which splits the tree before Jane's discovery of Bertha is yet another example. The houses too fall into this category. Thornfield Hall is quite mysterious, with its unexpected nighttime visitor (who is herself a gothic figure). Finally, Rochester can be considered a gothic or Byronic hero. Again, he has an air of mystery about him, and he seems determined to get his way, no matter the consequences.