Survey of British Literature II
December 13, 2012
Hidden Meanings in Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is the story of an underprivileged, orphaned girl's pursue for love. However, the plot of Jane Eyre is very obscured. Suspense plays a great role in the story. In each chapter, Jane discovers an answer to one question only to be perplexed with another mystery or dilemma. Through the use of similes, metaphors, and other literary devices, Charlotte Bronte conveys many hidden meanings throughout this text to keep readers interested, thinking, and full of suspense. The first strong indicators of hidden meanings lie when readers first learn of Jane’s personality when she begins to describe her artwork to Mr. Rochester. (Bronte 12 T7-129) Her first painting is of a turbulent sea over which dark, clouds hang. The sea is a representation of Jane’s passionate nature. There is a boat struggling within the waves also in the painting which can symbolize her constant struggle for happiness and acceptance. The second picture represents a calmer landscape with only a hill with grass and leaves on it, which blow to the side with the breeze. The tranquil breeze is a representation of Jane’s calmer and more humble side. However, in the dark blue sky there is a bust of a woman in the painting as well with dark and wild eyes. Just like the split personalities of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this woman can literally represent Jane’s strong temper and rage. The final painting is a painting of a chilly arctic landscape. This cold environment can represent Mr. Rochester’s cold and distant nature. There is also a large iceberg in the picture the rips through the cold skyline of the painting. Jane can be represented by the iceberg for she is the only one who can get through Rochester’s cold demeanor. These paintings of landscapes and different setting give the readers a glimpse into the main characters’ personalities and a slight glimpse into the upcoming events in the plot.
Setting plays a vital role in this novel because the setting hides many different meanings that add drama to the plot. One example would be the different locations throughout the novel. Each of the places where Jane lives represents a certain stage in her life and the hidden meanings lie within the names of each location. In Gateshead, where most of her childhood takes place, she learns to turn her feelings to power. In the name "Gateshead" it is clear that this place functions as her "gateway” to the rest of the world and the "head" of all her other problems. She learns self control and endurance in Lowood where she focuses on her education. The name “Lowood” not only literally means that it is located in a low valley besides a wood but it also represents a low point in Jane’s life. Most of the novel takes place in Thornfield. Here Jane discovers love and matures as a woman. The darker parts of the novel take place in Thornfield and it becomes apparent that this location is representative of mystery and secrecy. Jane says, "strange, indeed, by the pallid gleam of moonlight." (Brontë 92) when describing the house she lived in. The name “Thornfield” can literally be translated into “a field of thorns”. Finally in Ferndean, Jane returns to Rochester and can no longer go back to Thornfield because it has been burnt down and where it once stood a “ferny” hillside or slope now lies.
Within one of the locations – Thornfield, Jane comes face to face with one of her demons known as the “red room”. The red room is a representation in the novel that exemplifies of the obstacles and the confinement that Jane must overcome in order to find independence and bliss. Jane says, “Alas, yes! No jail was ever more secure” (Brontë 9). The late Mr. Reed died in that room, and Jane envisions that his spirit now haunts the room. The red-room is dark like blood and produces strange noises and has a large mirror that alters Jane's appearance. The mirror...
References: ❖ Harold Bloom declared Eyre a "classic of Gothic and Victorian literature." Bloom, Harold (July 2007). "Charlotte Bronte’s "Jane Eyre"". Midwest Book Review (Chelsea House Publishers): 245.
❖ "Jane Eyre | Movie Synopsis Available, Read the Plot of the Film Online". VH1.com. Retrieved 2012 – 15- 11
❖ A classic feminist discussion of Jane Eyre is the book The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar (Yale University Press, 1979) See also Martin, Robert B. Charlotte Brontë 's Novels: The Accents of Persuasion. NY: Norton, 1966
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