What makes Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights gothic stories? What are their Gothic elements, and how do the gothic elements compare or contrast in the two novels?

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë both share some of the characteristics of the gothic novel. The term "gothic Novel" is used in literary criticism to refer to a genre that originated in England in the late eighteenth century. It derives from the adjective "Gothic" as referring to the Gothic tribes that warred with and eventually overthrew the western Roman Empire. Their descendants were the founders of many northern European nations during the medieval period, and thus the term "Gothic" is also used to refer to the medieval period, as in the phrase "Gothic architecture" which refers to a style including pointed arches and flying buttresses developed in the middle ages.

Gothic novels were originally set in exotic locales, often in the past (i.e. earlier than the period in which the author was writing). They included wild and remote scenery that blended the sublime and the terrifying. Especially in the classic works of Anne Radcliffe, they often featured a brave young upper-class woman in distress and a melodramatically evil villain. They normally were strongly moral, emphasizing the virtue of chastity and often ended with rescues and marriages.

Both novels by the Brontë sisters have rural locales, but Wuthering Heights is more dramatically gothic in its response to and treatment of scenery as wild, untamed, and sublime, with landscape being more of a key element in the text. Both novels have women in distress, but Jane Eyre, in her virtue and eventual happy marriage, is a more traditional Gothic heroine. In both cases, the female protagonists are members of the upper classes.

Both novels have elements of the supernatural, but (with the exception of one reference to telepathy, in the case of Jane Eyre) the mysterious and foreboding aspects of Rochester's home are explained rationally by the presence of the mad wife in the attic. While both novels portray the extreme emotional sensations typical of the gothic, Jane strives for the virtue of self control, and the plot and characters are far more conventional and less melodramatic than the protagonists of Wuthering Heights.

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