Jane Eyre’s Gothic Theme
Jane Eyre is a classic Victorian era literature masterpiece by Charlotte Bront. It was published in the year 1847, under Charlottes pen name Currer Bell. The novel combines the passionate fairy tale of a damsel in distress with a prevalent gothic theme that is heavily symbolized throughout the novel.
It tells a story of a woman who is struggling to find and maintain her self-worth in the rigid class structure. This at last leads to her developing independence and her willingness to voice her opinions in a society that advocates for submission in women (Bront 207). There are multiple elements of the gothic theme in the novel.
The main Setting of the story is in an old eerily castle or mansion. Thornfield is a fine old hall, rather neglected of late years perhaps, but still it is a respectable place; yet you know in winter time, one feels dreary quite alone, in the best quarters. I say alone (Bront 182). Gothic themes are known for their preoccupation with dark and gloomy buildings that serve to elicit feelings of fear and uneasiness in the reader. It is always clear on who the occupants of the house are. There are secret passages and rooms and possibly old sections where people are forbidden from venturing into.
Villains play a pivotal role in the Gothic themes. They often take the form of a male with autocratic, successful, charming and complex features. Mr. Rochester was a temperamental, married and manipulative man who used mental tricks to prevent his secrets from leaking out. Nevertheless, he desired to accomplish his goals, but his psychological conflicts prevented him. Despite his flawed personality, Jane fell in love with him. I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me. (Bront 221)
Literal artists use visions and nightmares to foretell and hint at events that are yet to happen. They create an air of mysteriousness, confusion and sublimity for the fear of the unknown. This is displayed when Charlotte describes Janes reflection in the mirror. All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: and the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the effect of a real spirit (Bront 21). Jane perceives herself as something unnatural, something she may turn into if she continued flirting with her dismal present.
Perhaps the most significant and eerily element of supernatural activity in the novel was when Jane heard a strange and mysterious laugh. The laugh was repeated in its low, syllabic tone, and terminated in an odd murmur.(Bront 202). Janes paranoia and eagerness to find a ghost in the attic is unsuccessful when she is informed by Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper that the laughter came from a servant dwelling in the third-floor of the house. Dramatic events such as these are ultimately revealed to be a natural occurrence by the artist.
A gothic story is not complete without the literal artist evoking the feeling of suspense and fear. “It seemed, sir, a woman, tall and large, with thick and dark hair hanging long down her back. I know not what dress she had on: it was white and straight; but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, I cannot tell.” (Bront, 540). Anything that align with the common happenings and explanations contributes to the mysterious atmosphere and fear of the unknown. This usually happens when the characters sees only a glimpse of something, heightening the feelings of fear.
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