My friend RJ and I are reading Jane Eyre together. You can find my previous posts under the category “Reading with RJ,” and you can read RJ’s blog here.
One of the things I like most about Jane Eyre is the way it smoothly flouts the borders that separate genres from one another. Jane Eyre is a gothic novel: a lunatic is imprisoned in the attic of a dreary
mansion. It is a romance: the relationship between Jane and Edward is the central focus of the story, after all. It is a bildungsroman: Jane grows from a young, immature child to a grown woman who is in many ways the opposite of her childhood self. Finally, it is the modern young adult tale: Jane discovers that she cannot trust the person closest to her, a theme found in most young adult novels these days; she is disliked by her guardian, another characteristic that many young adult novels have; and it is written in first-person. While the last of those may not be strongly associated with adolescent literature, I have noticed that much of the young adult literature that has become popular in the last few years are all written in a casual first-person voice; therefore, while the pair is not always together, I believe that the first-person voice belongs in the young adult category, in this instance.
This blending of genres makes Jane Eyre a novel that appeals to an enormous demographic. While I am not fond of romances, and I am picky about my adolescent novels, I enjoy gothic novels and a well done bildungsroman story. The novel’s characteristics of the latter two work in such a way with the former that I can appreciate all four genres that contribute to the story.