6 July 2016

Jane Eyre - Symbolism, gaps between classes and romance

Symbolism:

The Red Room

The red room is a symbol of Jane’s struggle to achieve freedom and happiness. The room is a clear example of a home prison, and even after she is freed from it, she is still socially unwanted and separated from the love and care of the family.
In fact, the impact of the red room can be seen throughout the whole novel. It acts as a comparison in Jane’s head. This means whenever she is subjected to a current situation, she thinks of the room as a symbol of oppression and the cruel moments in the past. An example of this comparison is shown in Lowood, where she is humiliated. Another example is when she leaves Thornfield, because Rochester convinces her to become undignified wife. This also applies to St. John’s marriage proposal to her. In all these situations, she is reminded of the red room. To sum it up, whenever Jan suffers in the future, her thoughts will take her, emotionally, back to the red room. In conclusion, the red room also symbolizes how the society can be unfair because it traps Jan by limiting her freedom because of her class and gender.

Fire and Ice


Fire and ice both represent Jane Eyre’s emotions towards people. Fire is a symbol for Jan’s happiness, positivity and anger, on the other hand, ice symbolizes the oppressive people who want to extinguish the fire which is shown in her vitality. It can also mean sadness, isolation, depression and even death. In the novel Jane has a warm personality, which is represented by fire in chapter 4: "a ridge of lighted heath, alive, glancing, devouring." Another example of the Fire symbolism can be found in chapter 26, where Mr Rochester’s eyes are described as being “flaming and flashing.” This means he is a fiery personality. The use of the Ice symbolism is clear in the novel as well. When Jan first came to Lowood Institute, she feels cold and desolate, and when wakes up every morning to a frozen pitcher of water. This symbolism of ice describes Jane’s loneliness and coldness. St John is another example of the Ice symbolism as his emotions are cold and stiff. He wants to force Jane into an unfulfilling marriage. This way both fire and ice have their own meaningful symbolisms.

Bertha Mason

Bertha Mason represents Jan’s emotions in many ways such as her rage against social and gender oppression and how she hinders Jane’s happiness. Bertha also encourages Jane’s self-understanding. In fact, Jane loves Mr Rochester, but she fears that such marriage could lead to her confinement like what happens to Bertha Mason, therefore, Bertha symbolizes Jane’s fear of marriage imprisonment. Bertha can reveal and express her anger and fear, but Jan is not able to do the same. In another context, Bertha mason is a representation of the type of the Victorian wife who is trapped by her husband and who is expected to never travel and work outside the house. She even can’t find an outlet to for her frustration and anxiety. Indeed, it is worth to say that Bertha’s insanity is a warning to Jan not to surrender to Rochester. In conclusion, some critics claim that Bertha Mason is a symbol of the way Britain feared other cultures from appearing at the peak of its imperialism at the time.

The Moon
The moon is a symbol of Jane’s comfort. After Jane and Rochester’s wedding is cancelled, Jane finds herself comfortable in the presence of the moon, which appears to her in a dream as a symbol of the motherly spirit. Jane often looks upon the moon for guidance. She lacks mother figure in her life, so she counts on the moon because it gives light in the darkness. This is also expressed in the short quotation in the novel where the moon “looked in at me through the unveiled panes.” Another example of the moon symbolism is that it wakes her up right before the incident so that she will be available to help Mr Rochester when he needs her. The moon also reflects her mood. To conclude, the hope that comes from the description of the moon and the positive impact it has on Jane makes it a very important factor as a symbol that appears and disappears throughout the entire novel.


Gaps between classes:

There are social issues classes in Jane Eyre, which is also a feature of Victorian novels. The novel deals with the growing middle class, the occupation of the governess and the issue of servitude. Jane experiences the first negative effects of the class structure in Gateshead Hall. John Reed mistreats her badly. He tells her that she is an orphan with no money and that she is worthless. "Now, I'll teach you to rummage my book-shelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me.” John clearly tells Jane Eyre that she is low in social class and he uses this as a justification of his cruelty towards her. Jane is single, educated and of the middle class. She wants to become a governess to earn a wage. This makes her feel independent, but being a governess is like being a servant. At the time, middle class is increasing in number and on its way to become a major class. People have no idea what it means to be part of the middle class. Jane is isolated between the upper class and the lower class. When she is at Thornfield Hall, she realizes the gap between classes when Mrs Fairfax tells her, “Gentlemen in his station are not accustomed to marrying their governesses.” Mr Rochester represents the upper class. He wants to defy convention and marry Jane as a governess. The fall of Mr Rochester is the fall of social class and loses everything in fire. At the end, Both Jane and Rochester become independent. The whole story is about their struggle to reach that point. In conclusion, although there are economic issues between classes of Victorian England, Charlotte Bronte makes it possible that the gap between classes can be bridged. She uses Jane Eyre as an example that class boundaries are limitless and that individuals can cross them.


Romance:

Jane Eyre is a romantic novel as it emphasizes love and passion, and represents the way lovers are destined for each other. In fact, the word “romantic” does not only mean typical love, but it is more than that. The novel is filled with emotion, freedom and struggles of the characters. Throughout the novel, romance can be described in many ways such as Bertha’s acts of arson. She is known as the “madwoman in the attic” who makes Mr Rochester’s life full of pain and agony. This madness causes Jane to save Mr Rochester, and when Jane extinguishes the fire, it is an example of the new flames she will have with Mr Rochester. It is worth to say that the destruction of Mr Rochester’s home by Bertha, opens a new chapter of love in his life, brings him and Jane closer and causes Mr Rochester’s romantic feelings towards Jane to grow. He finally proposes to Jane adding to the romantic element of the plot. Another example is that when Jane learns that Mr Rochester is already married. She has to make the difficult decision of whether to leave him and her life at Thornfield behind or not. Mrs Fairfax clearly warns Jane of the disagreement she will have with Rochester when she explains to her, “Gentlemen in his station are not accustomed to marrying their governesses.” Being a governess does not make her hate Mr Rochester or decrease her love towards him, but it creates tensions between them. However, she returns to him at the end and stays with him even though he is half blind. When Mr Rochester says to Jane, “I have for the first time found what I can truly love - I have found you. You are my sympathy - my better self - my good angel - I am bound to you with a strong attachment,” This is a great declaration Mr Rochester’s love for Jane. The quotation takes place the evening before Jane runs away, the evening of what should have been their wedding day. In conclusion, the romantic element of the novel is clear through the passionate relationship between Mr Rochester and Jane, along with the development of the plot.

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