Get help from the best in academic writing.

Fire and Water Imagery in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Fire and Water Imagery in Jane Eyre

In Jane Eyre, the use of water and fire imagery is very much related to the character and/or mood of the protagonists (i.e. Jane and Rochester, and to a certain extent St. John Rivers) — and it also serves to show Jane in a sort of intermediate position between the two men. However, it should also be noted that the characteristics attributed to fire and water have alternately positive and negative implications — to cite an example among many, near the beginning of the novel, reference is made to the devastating effects of water (“ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly”, “death-white realm” [i.e. of snow]), and fire is represented by a “terrible red glare”; later, fire is represented as being comforting in Miss Temple’s room, and it is water that saves Rochester from the first fire. These literal associations with fire and water become increasingly symbolic, however, as the novel progresses, where the fire / water / (ice) imagery becomes a representation of the emotional and moral dialectic of the characters, and it also becomes increasingly evident that the positive and negative potentialities of fire and water also show the positive and negative potentialities of the characters whom they represent.

Rochester is very much associated with fire, with the “strange fire[s] in his look”, and particularly with his “flaming and flashing eyes”. By extension, so is everything associated with him (i.e. his first wife and Thornfield). Jane’s first reaction to Thornfield itself, destined to fall victim to fire, is to be “dazzled” by the “double illumination of fire and candle”, just as she is later to be “dazzled” by the fire of Rochester himself. On one level, this “fire” is the Romantic fir…

… middle of paper …

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Dodd, Mead

Brains before Beauty in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Brains before Beauty in Jane Erye

Beauty is generally classified into two main categories: physical and mental. In the Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Erye, the protagonist rejects by choice and submission, her own physical beauty in favor of her mental intelligence and humility, and her choice becomes her greatest benefit by allowing her to win the hand of the man of her desires, a man who has the values Jane herself believes in. She values her knowledge and thinking before any of her physical appearances because of her desire as a child to read, the lessons she is taught and the reinforcements of the idea appearing in her adulthood. During the course of the novel she lives at five homes. In each of these places, the idea of inner beauty conquering exterior appearance becomes a lesson, and in her last home she gains her reward, a man who loves her solely for her mind. She reads against her cousins wishes as a child at Gateshead, learns to value her intelligence as a child at the Lowood Institution, her mind and humility win the heart of Mr. Rochester at Thornfield Manor, she earns St. John’s marriage proposal at Marsh’s End, and in the end she wins her prize of Mr. Rochester’s hand in marriage at Ferndean Manor.

Jane Erye spent the beginning of her childhood at her Aunt’s house, where she struggles to become more intelligent by reading books. Jane wants to learn, even though her cousin insists: “You have no business to read our books; you are a dependent” (pg. 42). Shortly after being struck for reading, she lays in bed and requests: “Gulliver’s Travels from the library. This book I had again and again perused with delight” (pg. 53). Her ambition to read and better herself meets opposition from her cousins, yet she continu…

… middle of paper …

…f Love in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

David Lodge, Fire and Eyre: Charlotte Brontë’s War of Earthly Elements

Fraser, Rebecca. The Brontes. 1st ed. New York: Crown Publishers, 1988.

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. 3rd ed. New York: The Modern Library.

Bronte, Charlotte. “Charlotte Bronte’s Letters”. New York: W. W. Norton

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.