Jane Eyre: Theme of The Supernatural
Elements of the supernatural occur often throughout Jane Eyre. The gothic novel, written by Charlotte Bront, features multiple occurrences of supernatural elements during the duration of Janes journey through life. Bront is able to weave supernatural elements such as the legend of Gytrash, the red room, and the hearing of inexplicable voices into the plot, with these elements having key impacts on both the characters and the events in the novel.
As Jane begins to make herself comfortable at Thornfield, she appears to see a horse approaching in the distance. She begins to suspect that she is encountering Gytrash, a spirit that disguises itself as an animal, such as a horse, in order to startle belated travellers (Bront 133). While it is later learned that this was merely Rochester arriving home, it is still a supernatural element. Gytrash is a spirit, which is clearly supernatural. This interaction is significant as it shows the trauma of Gateshead still impacts Jane. Despite being away from those who traumatized her, Jane still faces the trauma, just in a different form. After facing harassment from those around her, Janes fears now are focused on the supernatural. The trauma Jane faced as a child could make her more succeptiable to believing in supernatural creatures, such as Gytrash. Jane has an active imagination, which allows for her to translate the childhood traumas she had endured into a fear of supernatural beings. This can be seen as a coping mechanism for Jane. She is able to turn her real life abuse from her family and turn her fears towards creatures that are not real. Jane, knowing that these creatures are not real compared to the mistreatment from her family members, can consciously place her fears into spirits and vampires as she knows they cannot actually harm her. Gytrash is just one example of Janes many fears towards the supernatural in order to cope with her early childhood trauma.
When placed in the red room as a punishment by Mrs. Reed, Jane encounters the supernatural as she encounters Mr. Reeds spirit (Bront 22). An encounter with a ghost is without a doubt a supernatural element. Despite being explained as merely a light within the room, the spirit of Mr. Reed still affects Jane and her life. The trauma of being placed in the red room became too much for Jane to take, resulting in her experiencing hysteria. Jane eventually faints from all the stress she experiences, highlighting just how traumatic this event truly was. Living in a home where you are unwanted and treated poorly for multiple years followed by being forced into the room where your uncle died is nothing but cruel and can substantially traumatize a person for life, let alone a young child. Events like these alter a persons life and can influence not only their mindset, but also their personality and choices. With Jane being the main character of the novel and being traumatized from this, the red room heavily impacts the plot of the story.
As Jane begins to contemplate whether she should marry St. John or not, she hears a familiar voice in the distance. The voice of Rochester is calling out for Jane, yelling where are you! (Bront 485). Despite Rochester being nowhere near Jane, Jane can clearly hear Rochester exclaiming into the night. Hearing the voice of a person nowhere near is clearly supernatural. Rochester later reveals that he too heard Janes voice responding to him. This highlights how strong the connection and relationship between Jane and Rochester truly is. Their feelings towards one another are strong enough to become supernatural, as it is the only explanation for both being able to hear their partners voice from an impossible distance. Hearing Rochesters voice also allowed for Jane to recognize that she does not want to marry St. John, despite his constant attempts at persuasion. Hearing the voice of Rochester at such a pivotal moment in her life has allowed for Jane to see that she must return to Thornfield and rekindle her relationship with Rochester. Without the supernatural occurrence of hearing ones voice from miles away, Jane would most likely have married St. John despite her true feelings towards him. Bront does not explain this supernatural event, contrary to every other supernatural occurrence in the novel. Doing so allows for the reader to see that Rochester and Jane were truly meant for one another.
Bront uses the classic elements of a gothic novel to her advantage, as they influence the plot of the novel. Weaved throughout Jane Eyre, supernatural elements such as Gytrash, the red room, and inexplicable voices are used. These elements are used to achieve the goal of impacting both the characters and events throughout the novel.
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