The novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë reveals a first-person protagonist and narrator who has unhappy childhood experience with relatives and later gets a blissful marriage to Rochester. Jane loves reading, creativity and education and contributes positively to her success in life. Charlotte Brontë uses point of view, writing style, tone, plot motif, symbolism, imagery and allegory among others to enrich the content of the novel hence makes the readers engaged throughout the piece of work.
Point of view
Jane Eyre novel by Charlotte Brontë is a point of view narration whereby the narrator uses the first person voice and the narrator participates in all the events with limited knowledge and vision. In the novel, Jane is the protagonist who is the protagonist and much of the themes and events surround her (Pearson, 2017). For example:
Charlotte Brontë uses the theme of gender relations to show the struggles that female child goes through to achieve equality as well as to fight the oppression in the society. Jane and a girl in a male-dominated society realize that she has no option but to fight against such patriarchal domination. In most cases, she is under oppression and threats when she fights for her dignity and equality (Brontë, 2001). For example, Mr Brocklehurst and Edward Rochester maintain Jane in an oppressive and submissive position and do not allow her to express her opinion, thoughts and feelings. Therefore, Jane decides to escape from Brocklehurst as well as leave St. John and goes to Rochester to seek for independence and self-knowledge. Jane was able to reach the decision after learning and able to function as well as not independent from Rochester for love as well as for finance. On a separate note, women in the novel should be calm hence they suffer from numerous restraints and stagnation from development from men. However, they need to be equal to men in terms of feeling and should develop their careers just as men do (Brontë, 2001).
Social class is another theme that surrounds Jane as a protagonist in Jane Eyre novel. The people of England live in a social hierarchy classes. The novel reveals Jane is tangled up in ambiguous class that lead to tension in the novel. Jane as a character has behaviors and manners that develop in an aristocratic society (Brontë, 2001). In the novel, children are taught etiquette and academic and are supposed to show aristocracy culture. Later on, as they become employees, they are treated as servants. For example, Jane as an employee has no penny at Thornfield. Besides, she hesitates to give her hand in marriage to Rochester her lover since she will have no freedom to make her own decisions in the marriage. Later on, the protagonist dislikes the prejudiced behavior due to social class. For example, she tasks to Rochester in first person narration and cautions Rochester who perceives her as a poor, little, plain and obscure woman who is heartless. Instead, she has a soul and has much compassion besides being beautiful and would have made it difficult for her love to leave (Brontë, 2001).
Charlotte as an author provides recurring elements and contrasts that inform the main theme. Fire and ice are the major motifs that Charlotte Brontë uses to exhibit the feeling of characters. Fire represents the anger, passion and the spirit in Jane as a character. On the other hand, ice represents forces diminish her vitality. In addition, fire is a metaphor in the novel. Jane associates herself with fire images, warmth and brightness. For example, Jane sees her mind to be consuming, glancing, and alive and a heath. Therefore, she has a spirit that is fierce like a fire. Similarly, Rochester has “flaming and flashing” eyes. However, he has a look on his face that is like a lamp that has no light (Pearson, 2017).
On a separate note, ice appears in bare landscapes and seascapes that show desolation in emotions, death and loneliness. Such motif parallels both the spiritual and physical isolation of characters especially Jane when she was in Gateshead. In addition, the girls’ psychological desolation is mirrored through the use of freezing temperatures in Lowood and the ice water that the girls use early in the day (Pearson, 2017). During her wedding, the protagonist describes her emotional desolation and notes that she faces many problems with minimal happiness in all the seasons (Brontë, 2016).
Separately, Charlotte Brontë uses a motif of substitute mothers to nurture characters as well as a source of comfort amidst an oppressive life. For example, Jane meets Bessie who comforts her after trauma and ordeal in the red-room besides teaching her about reading stories and songs for comfort. Also, Jane meets Miss Temple at Lowood who has spiritual strength and charm. Miss Temple is able to shelter Jane and encourages her intellectually. Charlotte is able to reveal the sympathy and compassion in Jane when she reminded herself of Miss Temple at Lowood who took care of her with compassion (Brontë, 2016).
Symbolism, Imagery and Allegory
The symbolism, allegory and imagery in Jane Eyre novel represent concepts and abstract ideas via characters, objects and colours. Bertha Mason as a character in the novel usually stagnates Jane’s happiness as well as promoting Jane to realize herself understanding. Bertha reveals terror and suspense within the plot as well as revealing the youthful libertinism in Rochester. She is also a symbol of Britain’s psychological block to other cultures in the peak of imperialism. Besides, it reveals the lifestyle of Victorian women who do not work outside the boundaries of the house as she is constantly frustrated and anxious due to her trapped status in the novel(Brontë, 2016).
On a separate note, Bertha symbolizes a manifestation of feelings in characters such as Jane especially her anger against social oppression and gender norms. In addition, Jane is afraid of imprisonment in marriage even though she loves Rochester. At the wedding, Berth bursts in rage and tears the bridal veil which halts the wedding. Therefore, Berth symbolizes the outward manifestation of anger and rage in Jane who has an interior fire and expression (Brontë, 2016).
The red-room is also a symbol of the struggle that Jane has to go through to earn her freedom, independence and happiness. At the place, Jane has an exile position and imprisonment. Also, she is financially broke, has no love, stays in constant threat and no freedom as well as feel loneliness. Therefore, the red-room is used as a symbol of memory that Jane compares with her current state and feeling (Brontë, 2016).
Separately, the gross porridge in the novel is a symbol of malnutrition. The first porridge is mentioned in Lowood. Upon their arrival with other girls in Lowood, they are served burned porridge for the breakfast which cannot be eaten. Therefore, Miss Temple offers the girls another meal during the day to cover the gross porridge. Elsewhere, another woman who tenders a pig offers Jane a bowl of congealed porridge that the pig could not eat. Such foods in the novel reveal the extent to which the characters are underfed as well as a sense of humility in hardship circumstances (Brontë, 2016).
The splinted chestnut tree is a symbol of separation between Rochester and Jane. The same day that Rochester proposed to Jane, they were under a chestnut tree of the orchard. Lightning struck the chestnut and divided it into two. The action symbolizes a bad omen in the relationship between the two characters and the half that moves away represents Rochester. Rochester sees himself as the chestnut branch in orchard farm (Brontë, 2016).
In conclusion, Charlotte Brontë uses different literary work in Jane Eyre novel such as point of view, motif, symbol, allegory and imagery to describe the feeling of the character, elaborate on the plot and enrich the novel. Also, Charlotte reveals the reason and specific choices of literary work such as the oppression of social class, the effects of patriarchy on the girl child in the Victorian society. Besides, clinging to the reasoning of the author, the analysis reveals a personal perspective on other elements such as symbolism in the novel. As a result, the essay is able to reveal the major contents of themes.
- Brontë, C. (2001). Jane Eyre. 1847. Ed. Richard J. Dunn. New York: WW Norton & Company.
- Brontë, C. (2016). Jane Eyre (Third International Student Edition)(Norton Critical Editions). WW Norton & Company.
- Pearson, S. L. (2017). Critical Insights: Jane Eyre.