Jane Eyre Essay, Research Paper
Analysis of Nature Charlotte Bronte makes use of nature imagery throughout
"Jane Eyre," and comments on both the human relationship with the
outdoors and human nature. The following are examples from the novel that
exhibit the importance of nature during that time period. 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 following 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"(Bront? 159). The gale is all the forces that prevent Jane’s union
with Rochester. Bront? implies that Jane’s feelings about the sea driving her
back remind her of her heart felt emotions of a rocky relationship with
Rochester and still being drawn back to him. 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. One can see
how Jane identifies with the bird. For her it is a form of escape, the idea of
flying above the toils of 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 the 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 death, 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"(Bront?
340). After only taking a small parcel with her from 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"(Bront? 340). 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" (Bront?
340). It is the moon part of nature that sends Jane away from Thornfield. Jane
believes that birds are faithful to their mates. Seeing herself 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 the majority’s view of the world: the
instantiation of God. "The Lord is My Rock"…
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Page Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Oxford World Classics. Oxford New York,