In what ways is Jane Eyre influenced by the tradition of the Gothic novel? What do the Gothic elements contribute to the novel?
The Gothic tradition utilizes elements such
as supernatural encounters, remote locations, complicated family
histories, ancient manor houses, dark secrets, and mysteries to
create an atmosphere of suspense and terror, and the plot of
Other Gothic occurrences include: Jane’s encounter with the ghost of her late Uncle Reed in the red-room; the moment of supernatural communication between Jane and Rochester when she hears his voice calling her across the misty heath from miles and miles away; and Jane’s mistaking Rochester’s dog, Pilot, for a “Gytrash,” a spirit of North England that manifests itself as a horse or dog.
Although Brontë’s use of Gothic elements heightens her reader’s interest and adds to the emotional and philosophical tensions of the book, most of the seemingly supernatural occurrences are actually explained as the story progresses. It seems that many of the Gothic elements serve to anticipate and elevate the importance of the plot’s turning points.
What do the names mean in Jane Eyre? Some names to consider include: Jane Eyre, Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Reed, Rivers, Miss Temple, and Ferndean.
Of course, there are many possible ways to
address this question. The following answer includes only a few
of the ways the names in
The name “Jane Eyre” elicits many associations. The contrast between Jane’s first name—with its traditional association with “plainness”—and the names of the novel’s well-born women (Blanche, Eliza, Georgiana, Diana, Rosamond) highlights Jane’s lack of status, but it also emphasizes her lack of pretense. Jane’s last name has many possible interpretations, none of which mutually excludes the other. “Eyre” is an archaic spelling for “air,” and throughout the book, Jane is linked to the spiritual or ethereal as she drifts, windlike, from one location to the next. In French, “aire” refers to a bird’s nesting place, among other things. Jane is compared to a bird repeatedly throughout the novel, and she often uses her imagination as a “nesting-place” of sorts, a private realm where she can feel secure. In medieval times, “eyre” also signified circuit-traveling judges. Perhaps Jane’s name is meant to bring attention to her role as a careful evaluator of all that she sees, and to the importance that she attaches to justice. “Eyre” also sounds like “heir,” and its other homophone—“err”—could certainly be interpreted to be meaningful, especially to feminist and religious critics who take issue with Jane’s actions!
Place names also seem to be symbolic. Jane’s
story begins at “