Jane Eyre

by: Charlotte Brontë

Gothic Elements

Quotes Gothic Elements
At this moment a light gleamed on the wall…while I gazed, it glided up to the ceiling and quivered over my head. I can now conjecture readily that this streak of light was, in all likelihood, a gleam from a lantern…but then, prepared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My heart beat thick—my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing wings; something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated; endurance, broke down; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort.

Jane recalls the night she spent in the red-room at Gateshead as punishment after John Reed struck her. She recalls for the reader a gothic and frightening experience while being locked in this room. While looking back on the memory, she admits that the light she saw was more likely a gleam from a lantern, but in that moment long ago, she believed the light was a supernatural vision of her dead Uncle Reed. Jane explains how this vision terrified her and became a pivotal moment in the abuse she suffered at Gateshead at the hands of Mrs. Reed.

That night I never thought to sleep...I was transported in thought to the scenes of childhood; I dreamed that I lay in the red-room at Gateshead; that the night was dark, and my mind impressed with strange fears. The light that long ago had struck me into syncope, recalled in this vision, seemed glidingly to mount the wall…I lifted my head to look; the roof resolved to clouds…the gleam was such as the moon imparts to vapors she is about to sever. I watched her come…as though some word of doom were to be written on her disk…then, not a moon, but a white human form, shone in the azure, inclining a glorious brow earthward.

Here, Jane describes a supernatural dream that came to her in the night before she leaves Thornfield and Mr. Rochester. In this dream, Jane describes ominous, mysterious weather, supernatural connections from her childhood, and a visit from her mother’s spirit warning Jane not to give in to temptation. Jane recognizes these gothic and supernatural elements as warnings to her of dark times ahead, further encouraging her to leave Thornfield.

I, too, had received the mysterious summons; those were the very words by which I had replied to it. I listened to Mr. Rochester’s narrative, but made no disclosure in return. …If I told anything, my tale would be such as must necessarily make a profound impression on the mind of my hearer; and that mind, yet from its sufferings too prone to gloom, needed not the deeper shade of the supernatural.

Toward the end of the novel, Mr. Rochester tells Jane about a strange, supernatural experience he had during the previous night. Here, Jane reminds the reader that she also had a “mysterious summons” on that same night and in the same way. Jane recognizes this connection but decides not to share it with Mr. Rochester because he was already “too prone to gloom.” The idea that Mr. Rochester and Jane are so connected that they actually sensed one another at the same time despite being so far apart is not only mysterious, but gothic in nature and romantic.