I've read Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre a couple of years ago (and I'm currently reading it again), and I couldn't help but to think of the almost dark and dreadful elements present throughout the narrative, but does it make it a Gothic novel in the end? That's what we're going to see in this post :)

On general terms, Gothic fiction is a mixture of horror and romance, it often tells the story of a young female protagonist whose journey is set to throw lights on self discovery and personal maturation portrayed within the plot sequence. Gothic fiction consists of eerie and gloomy settings which breathe dread and unsettlement, in addition to a suspenseful atmosphere touched by mysterious goings-on. However, what does Jane Eyre have to do with all these characteristics you may ask? I will try and explain more...

Jane Eyre was written in the middle of the 19th century. During that time, Gothic fiction was falling out of fashion. That's why we find in Jane Eyre some toned down Gothic elements compared to earlier works of notorious authors like Ann Radcliffe and Mathew Lewis.
Jane Eyre holds a particular charm in which it makes it hard to categorize in a specific literary genre. Instead of considering the novel as another example within Gothic fiction, it is more suitable to see it as a timeless novel with many elements and characteristics from the Gothic fiction.

Let's talk about the setting, it is a staple in the Gothic novel on general terms. The setting in Jane Eyre has some hints of the Gothic style. In the beginning of the story, we are introduced to Jane's world on a leafless and somber rainy day. This scenery and many others, awakens a gloomy and chilling mood typical to the Gothic genre. Further more in the narrative, Jane starts to describe the scenes according to her mood, this if she feels sad and sorrowful, she expresses her feelings by describing the world around her as being dark, empty and dreadful; the same thing goes when she's happy and so on and so forth.

No Gothic novel would be complete without some mystery and suspense, in Jane Eyre, these two elements are omnipresent throughout the narrative. From strange rumors regarding ghosts to eerie and unnerving noises the young protagonist hears, the story has it's fair share of odd occurrences and encounters that can't be explained at some pints but will eventually be debunked. There are also hints of madness and religious issues but talking more about them will give away important details to which the readers should discover themselves.

Jane's character exemplifies the Gothic trope of "the virginal maiden" through her youth, innocence, kindness and virtuosity, but she lacks a certain frailty. The Gothic maiden is infamous with her delicate sensibilities, being highly prone to fainting, to which Jane is not concerned for she is courageous and spontaneous, she can find find a way out and does what's right to help or even save others.

Even though Jane Eyre is filled with Gothic tropes such as madness, death, mystery, suspense, the supernatural ...ect, it is not considered a Gothic novel. The difference between Jane Eyre and any given Gothic novel is that the former is defined by its Gothic themes and it employs them to favorite it's narrative and boost key plot points.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and it will make you want to read the novel or read it again ;)