by Charlotte Brontë
Coming-of-Age, Romance, Gothic Fiction, Mystery, Autobiography
We know, that’s five genres – but Jane Eyre is a complex book, OK? Think about it – there’s the whole following-Jane-from-her-sad-childhood-as-an-orphan-to-her-happy-marriage thing, which definitely sounds like a "Coming-of-Age" story to us, especially because at every stage we’re focused on her developing morals and ethics.
Jane’s passionate attachment to Rochester definitely makes this qualify as a "Romance" – think of all the times Rochester grasps her and clasps her to his chest. Whew! We get hot and steamy just thinking about it.
Then there are all the supernatural and "Gothic Fiction" elements. Even though most of them get explained away – Bertha may look like a vampire, but she’s just a woman from Jamaica struck with madness – the novel depends on making us feel that creepy, suspenseful atmosphere.
There’s definitely a strong "Mystery" quality here; like a younger version of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple (whose first name, we’d like to point out, is also Jane), Jane gradually unravels Rochester’s seedy past to figure out what’s going on in the attic at Thornfield.
Then there’s the issue of "Autobiography," which is the subtitle: after all, the novel is called Jane Eyre: An Autobiography. Because this is a first-person novel, our protagonist describes herself as though she’s telling us her autobiography…but since she’s not real, it isn’t exactly one. We talk about that more in "What’s Up With the Title?" So, yes, there are a lot of genres at work here.