To what extent is Jane Eyre a ‘gothic fairytale
To what extent is Jane Eyre a ‘gothic fairytale

To what extent is Jane Eyre a ‘gothic fairytale

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  • Pages: 5 (2223 words)
  • Published: October 16, 2017
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Jane Eyre can be described as many things.

Romantic, sad, happy etc. but one of the most common descriptions of this novel is ‘gothic fairytale’. This is a popular genre used in many novels such as Dracula and The Woman in White. In my opinion this is an accurate description of the novel, the reasons for which I will now discuss. In the first few chapters, Charlotte Bronte describes Jane’s early life, from the time she spent at her aunt’s until she got to Lowood. The impression the reader gets of the aunt is of an evil aunt and cruel cousins who ‘take her away to the red-room and lock her in there’ when she misbehaves.

Her eldest cousin John ‘bullied and punished’ her while the other cousins, two girls by the names of Eliza and Georgiana, showed no love for her, only ‘proud indifference’ but took their brothers side in all matters. This is not unlike the scene portrayed in the popular fairytale Cinderella which gives the book its first reference to a fairytale. When her aunt locks her in the red-room, Jane is so afraid that her imagination runs away with itself and causes her to see things that are not there.Something passed her, all dressed in white, and vanished’ which is what the servants say she saw, although what she actually saw is not too clear.

This is a reference to the gothic aspect of the book where the main character of the story sees a ghost outside and there is ‘a light’ over

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her uncles grave, as if he was protecting her. After she saw this apparition in her minds eye, Jane was taken quite ill and upon recovering she found herself being sent away to Lowood to learn Sewing, French, Geography etc and out of her aunts care forever.This is where a new part of Jane’s life began and is also another reference to the fairytale part of the story, the wicked aunt sending the troublesome niece to school to relieve her of her duty to protect the child. During the time that she is at Lowood there are only two events that affect Jane’s life, the proclamation to the school that she is a liar, which is passed on by Mrs Reed, and the redemption of this, and the death of her friend Helen Burns. The first of these events is a cruel way for Mrs Reed to stay in the child’s life.

When Mr Brocklehurst tells the teachers to watch her and ‘weigh well her words, scrutinise her actions, punish her body to save her soul’ it shows how cruel the two people who really have this opinion are. When Miss Temple pronounced Jane ‘completely cleared from every imputation’ it gives the story another fairytale-like quality because this episode makes it seem as though no lasting harm can come to the girl. The second of these events is another infrequent reference to the gothic aspect of the novel because in fairytales, the nicest people do not usually die, but the bad people do.The death of Jane’s closest friend makes it seem like a gothic fairytal

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because it is a sad event for the heroine, instead of the person she dislikes most dying, which would be a happy, normal fairytale occurrence. Not many other things happened to Jane while she was at Lowood but she does stay there for eight years, ‘six as pupil, and two as teacher’ until she leaves to go in search of governess work and so a whole new part of the book begins.

She finds some when a Mrs Fairfax who wants her to look after a young girl answers her advertisement.While on her way to the town near the job she took she is met by a stranger whose horse ‘had slipped on the sheet of ice which glazed the causeway’ near where she sat. Because of this predicament, and ‘the frown, the roughness’ of his manner makes her determined to help him. This turns out to be her real employer which is another reference to the gothic fairytale because in a fairytale very few people get hurt, which is why it is gothic, but people do often either meet or help people who they will be closely connected to in the near to distant future which is a fairytale aspect. Thornfield Hall is in itself a very gothic place.During her stay there Jane sees many gothic aspects of the place, which range from a ‘mirthless laugh,’ which is supposedly Grace Poole, to the attempted murder of her employer when someone, laughing that very same ‘mirthless laugh’ tries to burn him in his bed and Jane saves him.

Another gothic aspect of the novel is the prophetic dreams Jane has of a small child in the time that she lives there. She works at Thornfield Hall for a while and is very happy there even though she knows there is something missing from her life there – she falls in love with Mr Rochester which is a fairytale aspect but does not know if the love is reciprocated.She is quite happy working there until a large congregation of ladies and gentlemen visit her employer, Mr Edward Fairfax Rochester. During this time he makes her think that he is going to marry Blanche Ingram, one of the ladies currently visiting Thornfield Hall, in order to instil jealousy on the love that she has steadily grown to feel for him over the time she has known him. This is where the fairytale aspect of the novel really begins to become evident. The fact that Jane is now infatuated with her employer makes the state of affairs leading up to their betrothal seem quite cruel.

The setting is a dreary house at the bottom of a hill, which is quite gothic in itself, and although the house seems, from the outside, cold, unfriendly and uninviting, on the inside it was bustling with activity. It is here where the beginning of the fairytale really begins, and all before it was merely a background on which the reader was to base opinions of the characters and gather knowledge of their pasts. The fact that Mr Rochester is playing such a game with Jane is typical of

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