Use of Gothic Elements in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

1721 words 7 pages

Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" was published in the middle of the nineteenth century. Bronte was greatly influenced by the Gothic novels that were in fashion before the time of Jane Eyre. The Gothic novel was popularised in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and was defined by its use of suspense, supernatural elements, and desolate locations to generate a gloomy or chilling mood. The protagonist of the novel would generally be female, and often face distressing or morbid circumstances.

Contextually, there was little freedom for middle-class women during the period of the Gothic novel, and this remained the case in the time of Charlotte. Marriage especially was
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Rochester, she notices his "dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow." He turns out to be a man with a past and his immoral life in Paris adds to mystery that is Mr Rochester. He is further marked in the following pages and chapters, by dark red, purple or fire imagery given to décor, nature or the sky.
Following this, the next encounter with Rochester when we are led to believe that 'Grace Poole' sets Rochester's bedclothes on fire, introduces more dangerous and foreboding elements related to the secret creature that resides upstairs. No information is given here, except that Jane's description of Rochester belies that there is more to the story than simply Grace Poole; also the presence of the violence and destructiveness of fire foreshadows a dark side and violence to come from this secret. Quoting from a study on Gothic imagery, "the apparent contrast would be Jane, whose imagery is always based off the colour white, black or very cool imagery and descriptions."
As the novel proceeds, the striking of the chestnut tree, under which Jane and Rochester had just sat when he proposed the previous night, is foreshadowing of impending separation, disaster and danger for Jane and Rochester. It is a frequently used Gothic symbol, nature predicting human fate to come. Interestingly, the first meeting of Jane and Rochester is set in the nighttime, using the same symbolism, an uncertain future between the two evident.
The dramatic introduction


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