Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre and the Unnamed Narrator of Rebecca as Innocent Victims 12th Grade

A female victim in Gothic literature is typically innocent, unworldly and powerless, a useful stereotype creating tension and drama as well as encapsulating ideals of male desire. Jane Eyre has lived a sheltered life, unexposed to worldly dangers such as evil, insanity and true love. However, her demands for equality and responses to mistreatment show her to be independent and passionate. Similarly, the unnamed narrator of Rebecca embodies many characteristics of the conventional Gothic victim. Being self-deprecating, she experiences regular feelings of inferiority, both within her marriage and within society. Yet, by the end of the novel, she emerges as a headstrong, determined character who colludes with her murderer husband to achieve happiness.

Both characters develop during the course of the novel, overcoming their potential victim status. In the opening chapters of Jane Eyre, Bronte presents Jane as an innocent victim. She is mistreated by her aunt and John Reed who constantly remind her of her inferiority: “You are a dependent….you ought to beg and not to live here”. In Gothic style, she is punished by being locked in “the red-room” which Jane believes is haunted. Thus Bronte shows Jane as...

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