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How does Charlotte Bronte draw on Gothic tradition in Thornfield?

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Introduction

How does Charlotte Bronte draw on Gothic tradition in Thornfield? In this essay, I hope to outline the ways in which Charlotte Bronte uses Gothic tradition to describe Thornfield. Also, I will look at the reason that she would do this. I will start with Jane's journey to Thornfield and continue with the description of Thornfield. Chapter 11 begins with Jane sitting by a warm fire in the George Inn at Milcote. She is 'warming away the numbness and chill attracted by sixteen hours' exposure to the rawness of an October day'. This line shows that Jane has already had a long journey and has not yet reached her destination. We are also told that it is misty. The word 'rawness' gives the reader the impression that the weather is bitterly cold. ...read more.

Middle

This shows Charlotte Bronte using the Gothic aspect of fear. Jane seems to greet this situation with a mixture of fear and anticipation. When Jane arrived at Thornfield, 'the driver got down and opened a pair of gates; we passed through, and they clashed behind us'. This is use of Gothic tradition as it shows confinement and isolation. When the gates are closed, Jane is trapped inside. Charlotte Bronte would have used this to show how exposed Jane's situation was. This is another Gothic aspect as the main character, a woman, is in a vulnerable position. When Mrs Fairfax first shows Jane around Thornfield Hall, Charlotte Bronte uses rich Gothic description: 'A very chill and vault-like air pervaded the stairs and the gallery, suggesting cheerless ideas of space and solitude'. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Jane 'steps over the threshold' the weather is fine and she seems relaxed and cheerful. Here again is use of pathetic fallacy. Jane's life seems to look up. She describes 'a rookery whose cawing tenants are now on the wing' which seems like all the black shadows in her life have flown away. Later on, Jane hears that Mr. Rochester's visits are 'rare, they are always sudden and unexpected'. This makes Mr. Rochester 'a mysterious and unpredictable character'. The creation of mystery is also a Gothic feature. Later in this conversation there is talk of ghosts 'if there were a ghost at Thornfield Hall, this would be its haunt'. This shows that there are overall suspicions held by the occupants of the house. This again creates suspense and mystery. In conclusion, Charlotte Bronte draws on Gothic tradition in many places in this chapter. I feel she does this to create a sense of foreboding and mystery which overshadows Jane's life at Thornfield Hall. ...read more.

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