Write a note on the Gothic Element in Jane Eyre.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gothic literature usually contains both elements of horror and romance.  Jane Eyre is  perfect example of both.

The horror is found in settings, first of all.  Think about all the dark, imposing structures, such as Lowood and Thornfield (even the names sound like punishments).  Remember the red room at the Reeds where Jane was locked in for the night: dark, stormy, her uncle had died there, the mirror distorted any images it reflected.  Perfect Gothic material.  Start looking and you’ll see the gloomy, depressing elements everywhere.  At Thornfield, add the rather dark mystery of Grace Poole and Bertha to make things even more Gothic. Even the weather is part of the Gothic setting, stormy and gloomy in all the appropriately stormy and gloomy places in the novel.

The horror is also found in the characters.  The Reed children are mean and abusive to their cousin Jane.  At the orphanage, one of the first people Jane sees

…was a tall lady with dark hair, dark eyes, and a pale and large forehead; her figure  was partly enveloped with a shawl,  her countenance was grave, her bearing erect. 

It's even worse with characters who actually have names and interact with jane on a regular basis. Think of all the others she meets both as a young girl and as an adult.  Even her beloved Mr. Rochester is a rather dark, brooding, and imposing figure—and even more frightening as a traveling gypsy fortuneteller..

Gothic romance is never easy, and that is certainly the case with Jane and Mr. Rochester. They end up together, but their path is full of difficulties and obstacles which must be surmounted before love can be enjoyed. 

This is a Gothic novel with plenty of the classic Gothic elements.