Comparing Fire and Ice as Recurring Images in Charlotte Brontë's Novel Jane Eyre

Topics: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, Zelah Clarke Pages: 4 (1499 words) Published: April 16, 2013
Choose two contrasting recurring images and demonstrate how Charlotte Brontë uses them in Jane Eyre.

One of the most interesting aspects in the story of Jane Eyre is Charlotte Brontë's ability to use metaphors in order to convey Jane's feelings towards the world around her, and her feelings for it. The most frequently appearing example of this is the use of water and fire imagery, which is displayed through the emotions and actions of the main characters, Jane Mr. Rochester, and to a certain extent St. John Rivers.

The characteristics attributed to fire and water have can have positive or negative implications. For example, in the beginning of the novel, "ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly" refers to waters as a destructive force, and fire is represented as a "terrible red glare". Later, fire is described as being comforting in Miss Temple's room, and it is water that saves Mr. Rochester from the first fire. This fire and water imagery becomes increasingly symbolic as the novel progresses, where the fire and water, or ice, become the representation of the emotional and moral battles of the characters.

During the time that Jane spends at Gateshead there are many uses of imagery, especially of ice and coldness that indicate Jane's feelings towards her home and relatives, and also the poor treatment and isolation she must endure in there. This is really shown when Jane is reading the History of British Birds. She takes an obvious interest on the arctic climate described in it, as she relates the rugged landscape to the images made up in her mind: "I formed an idea of my own...these introductory pages...gave significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking".

At Gateshead, Brontë used ice more to describe melancholy feelings that Jane had, whereas in the next location, Lowood school, ice can be seen...
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