Jane Eyre

The 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre
Photo: BBC

Gothic Romances. It conjures images of windswept castles, Byronic heroes, and epic love that is set against some dark secret or tragedy. The first half of the 19th century was full of these types of romances with a dark,mysterious edge.  You read or watch their romances with bated breath, hoping that their love story will have a happy ending. The couples on this list meet the criteria for a good gothic romance because they make our hearts skip a beat each time.

Five Unforgettable Gothic Romances in Literature


#1: Heathcliff and Cathy, Wuthering Heights

The two tragic lovebirds are the epitome of a gothic romance. Their differences in social rank kept them from being together openly. Separation and revenge dominated their later years. Finally, Heathcliff is haunted by Cathy’s ghost until he reunites with her in death. The entire story is played out on the lonely moors and old stone houses. Their undeniable passion for each other shows how much it can sustain you and tear you to pieces.

Gothic Romances - Wuthering Heights

The 2009 adaptation of Wuthering Heights
Photo Credit: Mammoth Screen

#2: Jane and Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre

The Bronte Sisters knew how to write gothic romances better than anyone. Jane and Mr. Rochester’s story also involved brooding houses and class differences. However, there is the added tragedy of Bertha Mason and Jane’s dark childhood years to color the novel. I remember the first time I read Jane Eyre, I wasn’t’ sure if I wanted these two back together. Despite this misgiving, not even fire and distance could keep Jane and Mr. Rochester apart.

jane eyre

Photo: Focus Features

#3: Jem and Mary, Jamaica Inn

Jem and Mary come together to find brightness from the darkness in their lives. The two struggle with the past and the dangers of smuggling to be together. Their romance reminds me of two birds seeking shelter in a storm.  Mary and Jem are two imperfect people that realize they are stronger together than they are apart.

RELATED | Jamaica Inn (2015) Review – A Romantic Gothic Thriller For Period Drama Enthusiasts

Jamaica Inn - Gothic Romances

Photo Credit: BBC

#4: Pip and Estella, Great Expectations

Against the backdrop of crazy Mrs. Havisham’s rotting house and wedding attire, Pip and Estella grow up with each other.  Pip falls in love with Estella and remains devoted to her despite Estella’s cold heart. The two continue to cross paths with Estella continually denying her feelings for Pip. Finally, once Mrs. Havisham dies and Estella is free, the two are finally together.

Great Expectations

Estella and Pip in the 2011 version Photo Credit: BBC

#5: Mrs. De Winter and Maxim De Winter, Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier, like the Brontes, was an expert at writing gothic romances. The young Mrs. De Winter is struggling to fight against the shadow of Rebecca, her husband’s first wife. Along with secrets from the past, the young bride must be on guard against Rebecca’s loyal housekeeper. The two lovers manage to survive the secrets that haunt the story.

Rebecca - Gothic Romances

Maxim and Mrs. DeWinter in the classic Hitchcock adaptation
Photo Credit: Selznick International Pictures

What are your favorite gothic romances? Sound off below…

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