Elemental Imagery In Jane Eyre Essay, Research Paper
The use of elemental imagery in Jane Eyre, revealed throughout the novel both literally and metaphorically, is one of Charlotte Bronte s key stylistic devices. The opposition of the two elements, fire and water, highlights the need for the characters to find equilibrium between the two. Fire can describe passion and warmth, but it can also burn. Water can describe coolness and comfort, but it can also chill. Because of Charlotte Bronte s use of elemental imagery in her book, Jane Eyre, the reader can better comprehend what the characters of Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester, St. John Rivers, and Bertha Mason are feeling and thinking.
Fire imagery helps the reader understand the strong feeling of passion in the character of Jane Eyre. At Gateshead, Jane is unable to control her passions and hits John Reed after he bullies her. As her punishment, Jane is locked up in the red-room. Fire imagery here, in the form of the red room, is Bronte s way of representing Jane s passion and fury. A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask (20) is used by Bronte to represent, through physical manifestation, Jane s overly passionate nature. Also very significant is the direct use of fire. This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire (20) is Bronte s way of saying that Jane is the fire in the room. There was not a fire until Jane inhabited the room. This key symbolism generates a horrific image in the reader s mind of what Jane looks like and is acting like in this scene due to Bronte s significant use of elemental imagery. Another instance of fire describing Jane is when she sees Mr. Rochester s bed torched. It is ironic that Jane happens to find Rochester s bed torched. The reason, illustrated by Bronte, is because they share passion with each other. They have feelings for each other in a way that Bronte can only describe with the fire imagery. The scene s sheer coincidence makes that hard not to believe. Because Bronte used fire to describe Jane s passion in that scene, the reader can really grasp how Jane is feeling.
On the contrary, that scene extinguishes the fire, thus the passion. Later in that scene, Jane extinguishes the fire in Rochester s room with water. The water that Jane uses to put out the passion flame in that scene is metaphorically telling the reader that she needs to relinquish her passion. The flame between Jane and Rochester is too hot. They need to find equilibrium. The reader can see the amount of passion that Jane feels, and the amount needed to extinguish her passion. Another instance of water imagery describing Jane s feelings is when Jane shows Rochester one of her paintings. This painting tells the reader much about Jane s concerns and values through the rich sense of imagery in them. The first painting is described as having a drowned corpse in its swollen seas of green water (143). Jane, because of her passionate nature, sees water, representing a locking out of passion and emotion, as death itself. Given that Jane has hot, fiery passion, water imagery is…
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