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How does the opening of Jane Eyre establish the genre of the rest of the novel?

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Introduction

How does the opening of Jane Eyre establish the genre of the rest of the novel? Gothic fiction combines both romance and horror. It is generally thought that the English author Horace Walpole created the genre, in 1764 (with the book 'The castle of Otranto'). The genre contains many aspects, including detailed description, extreme emotional and passionate characters, dark themes, gothic architecture - castles, mansions -, and even supernatural. But, in all novels, the main focus is atmosphere. In the opening of Jane Eyre, the gothic genre is established by using depressed, sensitive and passionate characters. An obvious example of one of these characters is Jane Eyre. Jane is one of the most passionate characters throughout the whole novel, but this is also shown in the beginning when she is punished for a crime she had not committed, and was locked in the Red Room. She describes herself as being 'oppressed, suffocated' and everything looking 'colder and darker'. Her reaction is extreme and, because she is so sensitive her terror makes her physically ill, as well as affecting her emotionally. The quotes also show that Jane is easily controlled by her emotions and has a strong imagination. The same feature is shown later on in the novel when Jane finds out that Mr Rochester already has a wife. ...read more.

Middle

Jane wakes up and someone or something is holding a candle to her face, hence not seeing who or what it was. Although it is revealed eventually that there is a 'mad woman' living at Thornfield. In the book, these moments result in change of atmosphere by use of tone. The tone of which, for example, is used in the red room, the result of which is the reader tends to read quicker, as tension seems to rise. Of course, in 'Jane Eyre' there isn't actually any supernatural goings on, but in any other gothic novel it is usually included. Pathetic fallacy is an effective way of providing readers with an idea of how a certain character is feeling. It is included many times in this book, like at the beginning where Jane is about to read her book and notices the weather saying the window was 'protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day'. This is a perfect example, especially when it continues; telling us there was 'a pale blank of mist and cloud' with 'ceaseless rain', explaining that she is feeling dull, unemotional or even confused. In this case, pathetic fallacy is very effective, at first actually telling us the weather reflects how she feels, and then carrying on technically describing the weather, but also giving us more detail to her thoughts and feelings. ...read more.

Conclusion

Short sentences like 'I returned to my stool.' And 'My heart beat thick, my head grew got' give a weak dramatic effects, and therefore again speeds up the pace of reading. Overall, red was probably chosen specifically, it being a strong and empowering colour. Although maybe not in all novels, this one contains many moments of injustice. They are mainly in the opening; however some are later in her life, like when she tells Mr Rochester that were she beautiful and wealthy, he wouldn't have thought twice about marrying someone like her. This isn't actually a specific incident, but there are many in her childhood, mainly created by Mrs Reed and John Reed. John Reed 'bullied and punished' Jane, because the rest of the family distanced themselves from her, and told her she ought to be grateful for Mrs Reed letting her live with them. Because of this point of mind, Mrs Reed accuses Jane of being deceitful; 'guard against her worst fault, a tendency to deceit', showing to which lengths she over-exaggerates to. This is followed on at Lowood Academy, when Mr Brocklehurst visits the school, and makes Jane stand on a stool without food or drink all day. In conclusion, the opening of Jane Eyre establishes the genre of the rest of the novel by using many, if not all of the features that a gothic novel usually contains. It uses parts like the red room and changes to different locations to exaggerate some of the aspects. ...read more.

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