To claim that it is the Gothic elements of ‘Jane Eyre’ alone that keep the reader engaged is perhaps too broad a statement to make. Of course, it is impossible to deny the presence of Gothic elements within the novel, however there is much more to ‘Jane Eyre’ than simply an element of terror. If it was indeed the element of the Gothic that the readers truly seeked, then perhaps they would have been better off delving into ‘Dracula’ or ‘Frankenstein’, two great contemporary Gothic novels, where they could truly find a Gothic tale.
Bronte does, without a shadow of doubt, include many Gothic elements with ‘Jane Eyre’, however it does not seem that she had any intention of making ‘Jane Eyre’ what may be considered a Gothic novel. Within the book, we find that generally elements of the Gothic are most significantly distributed in the Thornfield section, however there is a presence of the supernatural almost from the beginning of the novel when Jane is forced into the Red Room by her Aunt Reed. A shrine to her dead Uncle Reed, the closest thing to a father figure Jane has ever known, the Red Room for ten-year old Jane could not be more terrifying a place, and Bronte expresses this through the description of the room; the room is described as being largely red, with aspects of white, connoting imagery of blood and bone, two ideas that are commonly associated with horror and fear. Forced into this terrible ‘death chamber’, a young Jane sees what she believes to be a ghostly apparition climbing the walls in the form of a light or ‘orb’, and fits from terror. The readers of course find themselves entirely engaged throughout this chapter, as they fear for the terrified young Jane, and find themselves wondering what horror lies within this chamber, and what power it may hold over Jane. This indeed does seem a fairly gothic chapter, however as the older Jane relays this tale, she removes any element of fearful mystery as she claims “It was most likely a light from outside, or the moon through the window”.
After this, it is not until the Thornfield section that any more Gothic elements emerge. Upon the first moment Jane arrives at Thornfield house, the reader is struck with the idea of a “large, dark empty mansion”, similar to the dark, mysterious castles so often found in Gothic novels like “Bluebeard’s Castle”.
The reader then learns that there is forbidden territory within the ‘castle’, which is of course again reflective of the story of Bluebeard, whilst also reminding us of the fairytale ‘Beauty and The Beast’ – ‘Beauty and the Beast’ of course is not what we would automatically think of a gothic tale, however like Rochester, the Beast is hiding a terrible secret in the room he guards so completely. Bronte’s development of the mysterious goings-on within Thornfield only heightens the mystery surrounding this ‘forbidden floor’. The low, menacing laugh that repeatedly rings through the house, puts Jane and the reader on guard from the beginning, and this tension and curiosity builds more and more dramatically as we are faced with a bed having been mysteriously set on fire, a murderous “Vampyr” that threatens Richard Mason, and the horrifying “goblin face” that intrudes on Jane the night before her wedding. Not only does this heighten the tension and the terror element within the novel, but it also heightens the reader’s engagement with the text, as they try to work out what the mystery of Thornfield house is.
Paragraph 2: Identify that the book is majoritively a bildungsroman, and it is Jane’s development as a character that is consistent throughout the novel and therefore keeps the reader engaged. Popular genre – compare to David Copperfield. Note Jane’s direct address, and the power this has with regards to keeping the reader engaged.
From the above paragraph, it is clear…