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Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte makes use of nature imagery throughout “Jane Eyre,” and comments on both the human relationship with the outdoors and human nature. The Oxford Reference Dictionary defines “nature” as “1. the phenomena of the physical world as a whole . . . 2. a thing’s essential qualities; a person’s or animal’s innate character . . . 4. vital force, functions, or needs. ” We will see how “Jane Eyre” comments on all of these. Several natural themes run through the novel, one of which is the image of a stormy sea.

After Jane saves Rochester’s life, she gives us the ollowing metaphor of their relationship: “Till morning dawned I was tossed on a buoyant but unquiet sea . . . I thought sometimes I saw beyond its wild waters a shore . . . now and then a freshening gale, wakened by hope, bore my spirit triumphantly towards the bourne: but . . . a counteracting breeze blew off land, and continually drove me back. ” The gale is all the forces that prevent Jane’s union with Rochester.

Later, Bront, whether it be intentional or not, conjures up the image of a buoyant sea when Rochester says of Jane: “Your habitual expression in those days, Jane, was . not buoyant. ” In fact, it is this buoyancy of Jane’s relationship with Rochester that keeps Jane afloat at her time of crisis in the heath: “Why do I struggle to retain a valueless life? Because I know, or believe, Mr. Rochester is living. ” Another recurrent image is Bront’s treatment of Birds. We first witness Jane’s fascination when she reads Bewick’s History of British Birds as a child. She reads of “death-white realms” and “‘the solitary rocks and promontories'” of sea-fowl. We quickly see how Jane identifies with the bird.

For her it is a form of escape, the idea of flying above the toils f every day life. Several times the narrator talks of feeding birds crumbs. Perhaps Bront is telling us that this idea of escape is no more than a fantasy — one cannot escape when one must return for basic sustenance. The link between Jane and birds is strengthened by the way Bront adumbrates poor nutrition at Lowood through a bird who is described as “a little hungry robin. ” Bront brings the buoyant sea theme and the bird theme together in the passage describing the first painting of Jane’s that Rochester examines.

This painting depicts a turbulent sea with a sunken ship, and on he mast perches a cormorant with a gold bracelet in its mouth, apparently taken from a drowning body. While the imagery is perhaps too imprecise to afford an exact interpretation, a possible explanation can be derived from the context of previous treatments of these themes. The sea is surely a metaphor for Rochester and Jane’s relationship, as we have already seen. Rochester is often described as a “dark” and dangerous man, which fits the likeness of a cormorant; it is therefore likely that Bront sees him as the sea bird.

As we shall see later, Jane goes through a sort of symbolic eath, so it makes sense for her to represent the drowned corpse. The gold bracelet can be the purity and innocence of the old Jane that Rochester managed to capture before she left him. Having established some of the nature themes in “Jane Eyre,” we can now look at the natural cornerstone of the novel: the passage between her flight from Thornfield and her acceptance into Morton. In leaving Thornfield, Jane has severed all her connections; she has cut through any umbilical cord. She narrates: “Not a tie holds me to human society at this moment.

After only taking a small parcel with her rom Thornfield, she leaves even that in the coach she rents. Gone are all references to Rochester, or even her past life. A “sensible” heroine might have gone to find her uncle, but Jane needed to leave her old life behind. Jane is seeking a return to the womb of mother nature: “I have no relative but the universal mother, Nature: I will seek her breast and ask repose. ” We see how she seeks protection as she searches for a resting place: “I struck straight into the heath; I held on to a hollow I saw deeply furrowing the brown moorside; I waded knee-deep in its dark growth;

I turned with its turnings, and finding a moss-blackened granite crag in a hidden angle, I sat down under it. High banks of moor were about me; the crag protected my head: the sky was over that. ” In fact, the entire countryside around Whitecross is a sort of encompassing womb: “a north-midland shire . . . ridged with mountain: this I see. There are great moors behind and on each hand of me; there are waves of mountains far beyond that deep valley at my feet. ” It is the moon, part of nature, that sends Jane away from Thornfield.

Jane narrates: “birds were faithful to their mates. Seeing erself as unfaithful, Jane is seeking an existence in nature where everything is simpler. Bront was surely not aware of the large number of species of bird that practice polygamy. While this fact is intrinsically wholly irrelevant to the novel, it makes one ponder whether nature is really so simple and perfect. The concept of nature in “Jane Eyre” is reminiscent of Hegel’s view of the world: the instantiation of God. “The Lord is My Rock” is a popular Christian saying. A rock implies a sense of strength, of support. Yet a rock is also cold, inflexible, and unfeeling.

The second definition listed bove for “nature” mentions a thing’s “essential qualities,” and this very definition implies a sense of inflexibility. Jane’s granite crag protects her without caring; the wild cattle that she fears are also part of nature. The hard strength of a rock is the very thing that makes it inflexible. Similarly, the precipitation that makes Jane happy as she leaves Thornfield, and the rain that is the life-force of everything in the heath, is the same precipitation that led her to narrate this passage: “But my night was wretched, my rest broken: the ground was damp . . . owards orning it rained; the whole of the following day was wet. ”

Just like a benevolent God, nature will accept Jane no matter what: “Nature seemed to me benign and good; I thought she loved me, outcast as I was. ” Praying in the heather on her knees, Jane realizes that God is great: “Sure was I of His efficiency to save what He had made: convinced I grew that neither earth should perish, nor one of the souls it treasured. ” Unsurprisingly, given Bront’s strongly anti-Church of England stance, Jane realizes at some level that this reliance on God is unsubstantiated: “But next day, Want came to me, pale and bare.

Nature and God have protected her from harm, providing meager shelter, warding off bulls and hunters, and giving her enough sustenance in the form of wild berries to keep her alive. It is Jane’s “nature,” defined above as “vital force, functions, or needs,” that drives her out of the heath. In the end, it is towards humanity that she must turn. Nature is an unsatisfactory solution to Jane’s travails. It is neither kind nor unkind, just nor unjust. Nature does not care about Jane. She was attracted to the heath because it would not turn her away; it was strong enough to keep her without needing anything in return.

But this isn’t enough, and Jane is forced to seek sustenance in the town. Here she encounters a different sort of nature: human nature. As the shopkeeper and others coldly turn her away, we discover that human nature is weaker than nature. However, there is one crucial advantage in human nature: it is flexible. It is St. John and his sisters that finally provide the charity Jane so desperately needs. They have bent what is established as human nature to help her. Making this claim raises the issue of the nature of St. John — has he a human nature, or is he so close to God that his nature is God-like? The answer is a bit of both.

St. John is filled with the same dispassionate caring that God’s nature provided Jane in the heath: he will provide, a little, but he doesn’t really care for her. We get the feeling on the heath, as Jane stares into the vastness of space, that she is just one small part of nature, and that God will not pay attention to that level of detail. Similarly, she says of St. John: “he forgets, pitilessly, the feelings and claims of little people, in pursuing his own large views. ” On the other hand, St. John exhibits definitely human characteristics, most bvious being the way he treats Jane after she refuses to marry him.

He claims not to be treating her badly, but he’s lying to himself: “That night, after he had kissed his sisters, he thought proper to forget even to shake hands with me, but left the room in silence. ” What is important here is that St. John is more human than God, and thus he and his sisters are able to help Jane. From the womb, Jane is reborn. She sees the future as an “awful blank: something like the world when the deluge was gone by. ” She takes a new name, Jane Elliott. With a new family, new friends, and a new job, she s a new person. And the changes go deeper than that.

The time she spent in the heath and the moors purged her, both physically and mentally. Jane needed to purge, to destroy the old foundations before she could build anew. It is necessary to examine these scenes of nature in the context of the early to mid nineteenth-century. This was of course the time of the Industrial Revolution, when as Robert Ferneaux Jordan put it, there was “a shift from the oolite, the lias and the sand to the coal measures. What had been the wooded hills of Yorkshire or Wales became, almost overnight, a and of squalid villages and black, roaring, crowded cities.

Villages and small country markets became the Birminghams and Glasgows that we know. ” They were draining the fens and the flats. For Bront, this posits the heath in “Jane Eyre” as something dated, the past more than the future. Jane therefore must leave it in order to remake herself. Another aspect of nineteenth-century England relevant to nature in “Jane Eyre” was the debate over evolution versus Creationism. Though Darwin didn’t release “On the Origin of Species” until 1859, the seeds were already being sown; indeed, there’s speculation that Charles Darwin’s randfather adumbrated some of Charles’ theories.

Lamark was the principle predecessor of Darwin in terms of evolutionary theory. Though he turned out to be completely wrong, he and others provided opposition for the Creationists of the first half of the nineteenth century. One of evolution’s principles is “survival of the fittest,” and this is exactly what happens to Jane in the heath. Her old self is not strong enough, and must die. The new Jane she is forging is a product of natural selection. In fact, Jane is echoing the victory of evolution over Creation by the fact that it is humans who save her, and not God.

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Home » Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte’s, Jane Eyre

In Charlotte Bronte’s, Jane Eyre, Jane goes through numerous self-discoveries, herself-realization and discipline leads her to a life she chooses to make her happy. Jane Eyre has a rough life from the start. Forced to stay with people who despise her, Jane can only help herself. Jane must overcome the odds against her, which add to many. Jane is a woman with no voice, until she changes her destiny. The novel Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte consists of continuous journeys through Jane’s life towards her final happiness and freedom.

From the beginning, Jane possesses a sense of her self-confidence and contentment. Her integrity is continually tested over the course of the novel, and Jane must learn to balance the frequently conflicting aspects of her so as to find contentment. There are many ways in which Bronte shows Jane’s tribulations, through irony, honor, and tone. Charlotte Bronte includes many different aspects to this novel. ” One of the keys to power of Jane Eyre is Bronte’s deployment of multiple genres” (Clarke 2).

Clarke says that there are many levels to the book; the book can have a greater depth than a love story, but as a tale of strength and endurance. Jane Eyre has a rough start to her foundation, to begin she is orphaned at a young age. This sets up many problems for the young girl and her fragile identity. The people around worsen the situation as Jane grows. They challenge her patience, integrity, and intelligence. As a female Jane must deal with the caste system of her time as a threat, and as an orphaned child she must deal with the cast system as an obstacle.

The family of Reeds that she lives with reminds her everyday of her low position. “She suffers precisely because she knows the value of caste; She may be poor, but she does not want to belong to the poor” (Bell 2). This makes Jane want to thrive more because she realizes the odds against her. Originally, Jane comes from a middle-class family but when her father dies she is left to the pity of the Reeds. The Reeds mistreat Jane and she grows to long the outside world.

Jane clearly shows her position when she says, ” It is as natural as that I should love those who show me affection, as submit to punishment when I feel it is deserved”. (54) Jane says much in this statement, such as how Jane longs for a family or a close loving relationship- that reflects later on to Jane’s love interests, or how she disapproves of her punishments because they are unjustified. Jane cares for the Reeds as people because of Jane’s loving natural way but won’t show affection to those who mistreat her.

Jane’s childhood can be looked at as severe in many instances. Jane grows up with no family to love or no family to love her. She is looked down upon at by society because she is an orphan and a woman. Jane has to counter- Balance her family and society at the same time, she says, ” Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you” (Bronte 54). Although, people are insensitive to Jane she turns the other cheek’ and dreams of a time when she can get away and better her life.

Jane Eyre’s family is essentially like Cinderella’s but as this is a novel and not a fairytale, Bronte is able to use the novels realism to explore the social an psychological forces that destroy women’s integrity” (Clarke 7) By drawing a parallelism from both stories Bronte can use the seriousness of the real story to make it more dramatic. Bronte also uses the realism to bring up other aspects of how Jane’s character is tried to be destroyed through temptation and deceit. “She suffers not only from the weakness of female-hood but from the further insecurity of the poor person always threatened with a pauper’s helplessness” (Bell 2).

Jane must ascend to help herself and make her life better. Because of Jane’s upbringing she longs an escape, Jane reflects back to this time. ” I desired liberty, for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing” (Bronte 83). Jane desires this freedom but she fears it will never come. Then one day her wish is granted and she will be sent to school. Jane is exhilarated, this her only chance of becoming more that a poor woman, all alone with no family and no money. The theme of Jane Eyre is self-discovery and dependence.

Jane’s first chance to become closer to herself and farther from the Reeds happens when she goes off to school. The Reeds see this as them getting rid of Jane, but for Jane’s future it is a stepping stone. Jane also sees this opportunity as a releasement from her horrid family. Jane does not see how much school will help her truly gain her own independence. At first Jane has excitement for going to school, until Mrs. Reed tells Mr. Brocklehurst lies about Jane. These malicious things affect Jane’s new entry into Lowood, but Jane has to make the choice to move on from the last of the Reed’s influence over her.

Her next nemesis becomes Mr. Brocklehurst due to the lies, he also tries to gain control over her with embarrassment. Mr. Brocklehurst makes Jane be the dunce and says that no one will be allowed to talk to her for the rest of the day. This makes Jane feel down and out about herself, until Jane meets Helen and Miss Temple. Helen and Miss Temple disobey Mr. Brocklehust and talk to Jane, they try to make her feel better. Jane explains how she feels that nobody will talk to her now that they think about lies, and about her destroyed reputation.

Miss Temple says, ” We shall think of you what you prove yourself to be my child. ” (Bronte 67) This statement helps Jane very much it makes her self-esteem rise. None of the teachers or students knew Jane, so Jane could make herself what she wanted to. Breaking another barrier of self-humiliation, Jane has another chance to move on and begin her life. “Miss Temple’s hearth provides the first home for Jane’s intellect and spirit. ” (Clarke 4). Miss Temple helps Jane see how things really should be in a loving, nurturing relationship.

This new understanding helps Jane grow and think of what she wants for her life to be happy. Jane grows from the first experiences at Lowood and decides to stay there many years. ” She finds at Lowood at least one admirable teacher as a model and begins her own career as a teacher. ” (Bell 2). Miss Temple has a magnificent influence on Jane, not only does she help Jane set into Lowood, she gives Jane a path to follow for the future. Jane teaches at Lowood for many years and then she begins to long for that exciting freedom again.

During the eight years [at Lowood] my life was uniform: but unhappy, because it was inactive” (Bronte 81). Jane likes uniformity and structure, but desires excitement. Jane spends all of her time at Lowood wishing and hoping for more in her life. Then Jane makes the decision to leave and find a job as a Governess. “Such education at Lowood provides makes possible a of independence through self-support” (Bell 2). Jane’s only key to self-dependence equaled education. Education became more than a job to Jane, it released Jane from the Reeds and now it helps her create her own life and support system.

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