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Is Jane Eyre best described as a romance or a Gothic novel?

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Introduction

Is Jane Eyre best described as a romance or a Gothic novel? You should pay close attention to form, structure and language. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The novel 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte has been categorised as both romantic and gothic by scholars and literary critics. The plot entails the exploration of a woman's domestic trap, a common Victorian theme, with her subjection to patriarchal authority and her dangerous attempts to escape from such restrictions and the consequences. There is a mixture of mysterious events, moonlit natural environment, beautiful dream-like landscapes, enigmatic characters. Jane is represented as the heroine of the story, the virginal Christian female character. In opposition to her is the character of Bertha who is insane and is hidden in the attic of Thornfield Hall, representing Rochester's torment and his terrible secret. It can be argued that the plot has many entwined characteristics of both genres and it is very difficult to think of it as of one kind. The essay will discuss the way in which the novel accords with the characteristics of a romantic novel and a Gothic novel and evaluates whether it may be possible to assign it with one of the two labels. Romantic novels emphasize imagination and feeling, they focus on nature's ability to free humans from society's judgments and limitations. English romance narrates exotic and unusual stories, they are concerned with chivalric deeds (as in the stories of King Arthur), recalling themes of romantic medieval literature. ...read more.

Middle

In the romantic novel the individual stands at the centre of romantic fiction relating facts and experiences. In the following passage, Jane demonstrates her fervid romantic imagination, as she explains to Adele that she and Mr Rochester are going to get married and utters 'Here is a talisman will remove all difficulties;" (chapter 24) Jane metaphorically evokes the theme of natural forces which come to her aid when she is most in need for comfort. The passage continues with, a fairy that '...held out a pretty gold ring.....and I am yours, and you are mine; and we shall leave earth and make our heaven yonder'(chapter 24). The latter depicts the traditions of dream and oral tales which was much loved by the romantics. However, these are also elements which can be found in Gothic novels, where enchantment and fear are closely related. There is much about Jane and Rochester's introspection, their belief in the supernatural, and conflicting emotions. Jane fights against the wicked spirits of Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Manor Hall, and Marsh End at the end, these supernatural elements take the form of moral choices that force her into reflecting upon righteousness. For instance, the striking of the chestnut tree by lightening, under which Rochester had proposed to Jane (chapter 22), is a portent of their imminent separation and the dangers that lie ahead. It is a perfect Gothic symbol, as nature predicts human fate. ...read more.

Conclusion

Moreover, the idea of the character who travels towards unknown distant places, against wicked and unpredictable forces (these are represented by the several lovers he mentions, throughout his journey, and finally by Bertha, his insane wife segregated in the attic of Thornfield Hall). Thus, Gothic elements are used to create a sense of loss and psychological violence, just like what Mr. Rochester experienced throughout his journeys. Bronte demonstrates an attitude towards natural forces, which 'gravely offered...help' to such a 'reckless' man. In fact, he was not able to fall in love with a 'womankind', but with a natural 'slender creature' who is personified by Jane (Chapter 27). Thus, the novel entails many elements which are characteristic of fairy tales. Jane is repeatedly described as looking like a spirit, a tiny phantom, "half fairy, half imp.". Such an association permits an author to use less words to express deeper ideas, by adding powerful images through an apt use of wondrous language. The imaginary is at the heart of both narrative genres, however under many aspects Gothicism emerges to create suspense and conveys the characters' inner torments, such as "the striking of the chestnut tree', 'the red room'. These contrast with the romantic descriptions of the outdoor scenes, such as when Jane runs across the countryside, are nevertheless described in a vivid and detailed manner as if Jane Eyre were painting a realistic picture of the scene in all its shades. This imagery suggests her characters' moral condition and state of mind, therefore the mood of the story is immediately conveyed. ...read more.

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