Use of Gothic Elements in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

1740 Words Mar 15th, 2006 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
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Mrs. Fairfax claims Grace Poole, one of the servants is responsible for the noise. But we know immediately that there is more to the story than this simply answer; the intuitive description of the odd laugh by Jane herself foreshadows a more complex and disturbing explanation to come in the future. When describing the third floor, Jane compares it to Bluebeard's Castle.
"I lingered in the long passageway to which this led, separating the front and back rooms of the third story. …like a corridor in some Bluebeard's castle"
The reference to Bluebeard's Castle is also an important allusion; the French fairy tale referenced is a pre-Gothic account of a Duke who murders all his wives, locking their bodies in different closets, while forbidding each new wife to look inside each closet. When each bride breaks his commands, they find the dead wives, and are themselves, murdered. The Gothic plot is Romantic in the literary sense; the myth of Bluebeard is not. According to critics, "it is a dark drama/comedy in some interpretations--a didactic and frightening commentary of society in others."
In another episode, the whole incident of meeting Mr. Rochester on the road, against the pallid moon-lit hills and vales, introduces the tortured yet romantic character of the
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