Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jane Eyre

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Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a novel that incorporates many literary devices to help exemplify meanings and themes. One of these is symbolism. The symbols used throughout the novel exist in different situations and are used to coincide with different ideas. One of the most effective uses of symbolism in Jane Eyre is to foretell the events that occur in the book. The reader may observe that the author continuously interlinks symbolism with foreshadowing. Symbolism and foreshadowing are both constant themes in the novel. The symbol usually hints at what’s going to happen later in the book. For example, Bronte uses birds to represent freedom, which is what Jane has always wished for and finally finds by the end of the novel.


Although there is no one dominant symbol in the novel, the most significant (and the most noticeable) symbol would have to be fire. Fire is constantly reoccurring along the course of events. Fire is often associated with human vitality, while damp and cold are associated with death. A lot of narration is spent on the fire in Miss Temple’s room. The stress isn’t only on the physical comfort of fire, but also on fire as a symbol of friendship, kindness, acceptance, and comfort. “How we longed for the light and heat of a blazing fire when we got back…” (Pg.7 Vol.1) Fire can also signify passion and emotions, (like Jane and Mr. Rochester’s passion and feelings for each other).


The chestnut tree struck by lightning into two halves symbolizes the fact that Jane and Mr. Rochester are to separate. The incident in which Bertha rips apart Jan’s wedding veil symbolizes Mr. Rochester’s betrayal of his wife and Jane; and it also suggests that something may go wrong at their wedding and that the wedding was doomed.


Custom Essays on Jane Eyre


The moon can be seen as a symbol of mystery and deception. In the scene of Mr. Rochester’s proposal to Jane, Jane becomes a victim to deception. Mr. Rochester asks Jane if she would be his beloved. Jane wants to see him, and so she asks him to turn to the moonlight so that she can read his face.


“‘You, Jane. I must have you for my own � entirely my own. Will you be mine? Say yes, quickly.’ ‘Mr. Rochester, let me look at your face turn to the moonlight,’”


(Bronte, Pg.�Vol.)


Here, the moonlight becomes a symbol of deception, mystery and evil.


There are symbolic events in the book that hint at the doomed marriage of Jane and Mr. Rochester. For instance, after Jane accepted Mr. Rochester’s proposal, they sit down under a chestnut tree, which seems to ‘be in pain,’ and the weather suddenly changes into a storm…


“But what had befallen the night? The moon was not yet set, and we were all in shadow I could scarcely see my master’s face, near as I was. And what ailed the chestnut tree? It writhed and groaned; while wind roared in the laurel walk, and came sweeping over us.”(Bronte, Pg.1 Vol.)


The fact that she could not see Mr. Rochester’s face signifies that she can’t see that he’s hiding something from her. The chestnut tree and the sudden gloomy turn of weather might symbolize their doomed marriage. Also, the next day, Jane is told that the chestnut tree had been struck by lightning during the night, and split it in half. This foretells that Mr. Rochester and Jane are to be split apart.


“It was not without a certain wild pleasure I ran before the wind delivering my trouble of mind to the measureless air-torrent thundering through space. Descending the laurel walk, I faced the wreck of the chestnut-tree; it stood up, black and riven the trunk, split down the centre, gasped ghastly. The cloven halves were not broken from each other, for the firm base and strong roots kept them unsundered below; though community of vitality was destroyed � the sap could flow no more their great boughs on each side were dead, and next winter’s tempests would be sure to fell one or both to earth as yet, however, they might be said to form one tree � a ruin; but an entire ruin.” (Bronte, Pg. 4 Vol.)


The sundered tree is a foreshadow of Mr. Rochester and Jane’s ‘soon to be sundered’ love; yet they ‘form one ruin…’


“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning, but since dinner…the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so somber, and rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question. I was glad of it; I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.”


(Bronte, Pg. 1 Vol.1)


Bronte seems to associate the weather with a character’s thoughts and emotions. The dreary winter coincides with Jane’s lonely, detached and abandoned feelings. The “leafless shrubbery” implies the desolation felt by Jane. This is also symbolic of her being an orphan. Leaves cover and shelter a shrub like what parents would do for their children. Jane has no living parents and lives with a cold, uncaring guardian, her Aunt Reed. At her aunt’s house, Jane was unhappy because she didn’t have anyone who loved her. “Clouds so somber” are symbolic of her downhearted feelings due to loneliness, need of affection, and lack of love. All the time that Jane stayed with her relatives, they had never shown her any affection, while all she wanted was to be loved and cared for.


“…the last sound I expected to hear in so still a region, a laugh, struck my ear. It was a curious laugh; distinct, formal, mirthless. I stopped the sound ceased, only for an instant, it began again, louder for at first, though distinct, it was very low.” (Pg.15 Vol.1) The manical laughter that Jane hears and continues to hear represents the deception and mystery throughout the book. She hears it, but the other servants hide what it is from her, as does Mr. Rochester. They allow her to believe that it’s just one of the servants…


“ ‘But you heard an odd laugh? You have heard that laugh before, I should think, or something like it?’ ‘Yes, sir there is a woman who sews here, called Grace Poole, - she laughs that way. She is a singular person.’ ‘Just so. Grace Poole � you have guessed it. She is, as you say, singular, - very…’”





Symbolism can be found throughout the story linked with foreshadowing. The symbols practically show the reader what might happen next. Bronte effectively uses foreshadowing and symbolism together in her novel.





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