Why is the gothic genre important in Jane Eyre?What does this genre do? I know that this helps emphasize some of the main points in the novel, but what else?

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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of elements from the gothic genre present in Jane Eyre. One of the most important gothic themes has to do with the notion that architectural structures are often symbolic of the inner lives or emotional conflicts facing characters. For Jane, the "madwoman" (Rochester's first wife) imprisoned in the attic is symbolic of her own status as an unmarried, lower-class woman and the various trials she has suffered; just as Bertha is "Other" Jane is also apart from society and often chooses solitude to social interaction. Although Jane has great strength of character, she also harbors doubts about her place in the world. Being an orphan at a young age causes her to be self-reliant, but also fearful that she will wind up alone and shunned by society.

kc4u | Student

The Gothic genre elements in Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre is primarily related to its broader generic affiliation within the Romance novel or the Bildungsroman. The Gothic elements are restricted mostly to the Thornfield Hall episode and the Roichester-Jane relation in the novel.

1. Thornfield Hall with its Gothic architecture draws attention to the space as a towering representation of the patriarchal authoritarian space of entrapment. The social angle of the new social upliftment of the landed gentry is another issue.

2. The character of Bertha Mason is another Gothic dimension of Thornfield, built up as Jane's schizophrenic racial other and suspensefully developed by the maid Grace Poole.

3. The Gothicization of Bertha the black woman from Africa has a colonialist strain in it, as Jean Rhys's rendering of the novel from Bertha's perspective highlights.

4. The feminist subversion of Gothic damsel in distress genre becomes problematic as the black woman is sacrificed at the level of hysteria to make way for the white woman as a prototype of success.

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Jane Eyre

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