Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte: Literary Analysis Essay
The Reconciliation of Fire, Ice, and Eyre
Jane Eyre Literary ANalysis: Symbolism with St. John Rivers and Jane Eyre
Through Jane’s internal struggle with St. John, Bronte utilizes an ice motif to examine the surrender of passion to cold rational piety and the consequential unhealthy depravity of the individual’s condition.Observing St. John, Jane notes the “cold cumbrous” aurathat he possesses yet strongly asserts that he is “a good man,” doing “what was good and great, certainly” (393). Through passionate judgment, Jane recognizes the “cumbrous” coldness that underlies St. John’s character. However, her reason, influenced and almost inculcated by St. John, overpowers her emotional examination. She rationally yet too simply connects that St. John’s unwavering Christian devotion makes him “a good man,” and thus concludes that he is only capable of doing the “good and great,” the moral.Through Jane’s early disregard of her instinctual passion of fire and embrace of logic and – unknowingly – rhetorical fallacy, Brontë utilizes the initial “cold cumbrous” imagery of ice to foreshadow the impending snowstorm of anguish that Jane obliviously enters.
As Jane endures St. John’s tasks of learning Hindustani and rationally obeys, she experiences “icy kisses…freezing spells” and ignores the turbulent passion that inwardly shouts of the inequities of “disowning half my nature, stifling half my faculties” (397-398). By employing the ice motifs of “icy kisses” and “freezing spells” that “[stifle] half [of Jane’s] faculties,” Bronte evokes a sense of arctic frigidity that barricades and internally pains Jane in an icy prison of control. Brontë further suggests that without passion, “half my nature,” Jane is semi-aware of the patriarchal dominance that St. John exerts through his “spell” of control and Divine Providence.His freezing spells “appear to cloud and obscure [Eyre’s] judgment” (La Monaca 3).Subduing emotional passion for the logical follow of St. John and thus God’s will, Jane continues to wish to please him, but eventually “[awakes]…trembling and quivering…the convulsion of despair” (Brontë 367) and exclaiming that “to burn inwardly…would be unendurable!” (408). Through Jane’s “convulsion of despair,” Bronte uses her boiling anguish right after the usage of the ice motif to illuminate the extreme degree of Jane’s depravity and highlight the unhealthiness of an unbalance between passionate self-indulgence and cold rational self-restraint. Additionally, Jane’s suppressed passion “awakes,” empowering her to emotionally melt the “unendurable” dehumanizing ice of frigid female oppression imposed by St. John. Thus, Bronte uses the ice motif and Jane’s internal boiling conflict with St. John to examine that passion rekindles the flames of spiritual healthiness and ultimately feminism strength.
Jane Eyre Literary Analysis Essay: Symbolic Conclusion
As Jane returns to the debilitated Rochester as a new enlightened woman, Bronte uses Jane’s strengthened individuality of independence and compassion to lastly exemplify reconciliation of blazing passion and frozen rationality as an enhancement to the human identity. Blind and crippled, Rochester is moved by Jane’s “affectionate heart and generous spirit…[of] sacrifices” and more than ever attracted to his little “fairy” and her newfound “independence” (434-435). Emerging from her various previous internal conflicts, Jane has learned to balance the “heart” or passion with “spirit of sacrifices” or principled rationality, metaphorically transforming into Rochester’s true “fairy.”As a “fairy,” Jane symbolically carries wings of freedom. As Gilbert suggests, Jane is freed from the chains of Rochester and St. John, no longer the “slave of passion” or the oppressed under the “iron shroud of principle” (6). It is through the reconciliation of elemental passion of fire and rationality of ice that Jane breaks the confinements of St. John’s and Rochester’s patriarchal control and ultimately discovers “independence” and compassion without losing spiritual morality, unlike Bertha. Yet, despite Jane’s retained autonomy and her decision to remain with Rochester, ambiguities of their relationship continue to pervade even at the ending. By choosing Rochester and her overly sentimental pleasure for him, Jane leans more to passion than rationality, and as Jane reads St. John’s letter, she cries “human tears…filled with “Divine joy” (452). Brontë uses Jane’s tears to show that dissonance in Jane’s ‘balance’ between the Byronic fire Rochester and “Divine” ice St. John still continues. However, even so, Bronte utilizes Jane’s unity with Rochester to show the empowerment of a balance between passion and reason, even though not entirely perfect.
Thus, Bronte uses a dichotomy of fire and ice motifs to not only portray the internal conflicts that Jane faces with Rochester, Bertha, and St. John but also further explore Jane’s ultimate development of her psyche through the reconciliation of passion and rationality. Through Jane’s convergence of rationality and passion into a healthy but not completely perfect balance, Bronte examines the overarching equilibrium of the two as an enhancement for the human condition, where passion instills compassion, and rationality unfolds spiritual morality. Jane Eyre’s ultimate development of individuality and identity illuminates humanity’s possible path of empowerment through the balanced preservation of passion and rationality.
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Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975. Print.
Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. “A Dialogue of Self and Soul: Plain Jane’s Progress.”
The Madwoman in the Attic. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976. Print.
Lamonaca, Maria. “Jane’s Crown of Thorns: Feminism and Christianity in Jane Eyre.” Studies in the Novel. 34.3 (2002): 245-263.
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Very helpful article, thank you!
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Thank you so much, Athena!
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You’re welcome! 😀
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Excellent essay on Jane Eyre. This is really helpful and I shared it with my class!
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