What is gothic in and about "Jane Eyre"?
The gothic has deep roots in our culture dating back to the Middle Ages. It delves into our fascination with the dark side of humanity, the evil within. This novel gives us those elements that interested Bronte not only in the form of Rochester, the dark hero, and Thornhill, as a setting, but also, more importantly in the lingering presence of Rochester's wife. Trapped within Thornhill is a mad wife who is out to destroy any and all she can get her hands on. We have ghostly scenes as she haunts Thornhill. This motif adds to the melodrama in the novel, an element of the gothic. The gothic explores our "deepest, darkest fears." What could be worse than to find your wedding veil shredded, your husband-to-be already married, and even worse, wedded to a monster????
Although the Gothic novel rose to literary eminence much earlier than Charlotte Bronte's time, Bronte owes much to the Gothic style with her moody hero, violent and disturbing events, and sense of mystery that surrounds Jane Eyre. Thornhill itself is a gothic setting that is both grand and gloomy, and the mysterious figure upstairs raises the reader's anticipation in typical gothic fashion. Bertha Mason's death scene is flamboyantly violent, and Rochester's passionate, brooding personality makes him a classic gothic hero.