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Symbolism in Jane Eyre Research Papers

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Symbolism in Jane EyreWhile books are written with specific intentions, often times there are more to the words on the page. In some cases, a reader can read in-between the lines and gather additional information; such is the case in Jane Eyre. While there is a general plot in the novel, there are also several instances of symbolism; the words have deeper meaning, many times representing something different entirely. As mentioned before, there is a large amount of symbolism in Jane Eyre; however, some of the more commonly discussed examples include:

  • The red room
  • The splintered chestnut tree
  • Jane’s drawings

The red room can be interpreted as representing anger or fear, considering this is the space where Jane experienced moments of hysteria. The splintered chestnut tree where Jane was proposed to could be construed as a representation of the relationship between Jane and Rochester; shortly after the proposal, the tree was struck by lightning and split in half – the couple eventually split as well. Jane draws several portraits throughout the novel, one of which is of a fantasy landscape composed primarily of ice. The ice can be interpreted as representing a quality Jane wished she had – the ability to be cold and cruel, particularly to Rochester when she realized she needed to leave him. All of the symbolism in Jane Eyre created exciting layers to an already compelling novel.

Throughout the book, Jane the protagonist emerges as more equal both in spirit and in morals of Rochester.  The situation begins to change when Rochester secures her betrothal.  He begins to treat her as inferior because he now believes that he has societal control over her.  Another area in which the equality between the two is challenged is the sexuality.  Jane is a virgin and does not understand or has not experienced what Rochester has.  This inexperience allows Rochester to in someway deem himself superior to Jane. We see though that the equality is balanced out by Jane’s threat of “going to be a missionary” and how she uses sex to manipulate him.

Throughout the book, the character of Jane grows stronger and becomes a woman who learns how to use the power which she has in context with the social restraints of the time.  Her audacity at the beginning is replaced by her moral compass and also the lessons she learns in how to control the men in her life. 

From the beginning, Bronte acknowledges that this book was written to communicate her views of the society in which she lived.  In her preface, she expresses these ideas:

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them; they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is—I repeat it—a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them”. These views are shown throughout the novel. Bronte uses this book to step out of her primary role as woman in the society and to criticize the suppression of the women within it.  It became a literary success and forced many to look at the position which women were in at the time.  It showed how much power women actually had in Victorian life and how they could assert that power.  The role of women would not change by Bronte’s book but it helped others to understand the problems which presented themselves in Victorian society

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