What type of novel is Jane Eyre? Is it a Gothic novel?

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There are certainly Gothic elements throughout the novel, from beginning to end.  Consider the rather imposing and frightening homes in which Jane spends time.  How about the ideas of a mystery in the attic which turns out to be madness personified.  Yet it is also not a classic Victorian novel.  While there are certainly the Romantic leading man and the eventual grand romance, the story is just too dark to fit comfortably into a classic Victorian romance.  I'm certain you're supposed to label it, but to me it's like trying to label a chocolate and vanilla twist cone as either chocolate or vanilla.  It's both.

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I think you are right in identifying the gothic influences on the novel. The Thornfield chapters with the "madwoman in the attic" and the use of nature and setting as in the symbol of the chestnut tree have definite gothic overtones, but I also think it is wrong to limit the novel as just being a Victorian Romance. It is that, but also so much more, and really Charlotte Bronte is playing with a series of genres and combining them in one novel. It is first and foremost, in my opinion, a bildungsroman, which traces the development and education of the main protagonist as she faces the challenges of life and eventually adopts her place in society. It is also a Romance (with a capital R) in its focus on feeling and emotion. It is also realist in its depiction of the social position of governesses in Victorian times. It is also Gothic with the architecture and appearance of Bertha Mason. Gothic literature had a major impact on a number of Victorian novelists, and so we see definite Gothic "echoes" in novels like Wuthering Heights and Northanger Abbey. However, for me, pigeonholing or labelling novels as "Gothic" or any other title prevents us as readers from appreciating the full richness contained therein.

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Jane Eyre is a romance with autobiographical tendencies.  I would not classify it as Gothic since these works typically are more gloomy and Poe-like.

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I always felt that “Jane Eyre” was a romantic novel.   According to e-notes, “Jane Eyre, because of its powerful writing, and because of its concern with moral and social issues beyond the immediate plot, Jane Eyre is not generally considered a Gothic novel as such.  However, it makes use of many of the elements found in the Gothic genre popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  In Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester might be seen as a Gothic hero. However, Bronte has made him a rounded character, not a stereotype. His circumstances are Gothic; they are imbued with a moral significance. Thornfield Hall might seem a Gothic residence, but apart from the mysterious presence of Grace Poole and Bertha, it is a comfortable house. The facts surrounding Bertha's presence at Thornfield are highly Gothic, as is Bertha herself. “Some experts believe it is more of a Bildungsroman, which is a German term that means "a novel of formation": that is, a novel of someone's growth from childhood to maturity. About a third of Jane Eyre, for instance, is concerned with her childhood.  So Jane Eyre is more of a compilation of three genres, Romantic, Gothic and Bildungsroman.

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