The Reconciliation of Fire, Ice, and Eyre
Jane Eyre Novel: Symbolic Conclusion and Relationship with Edward Rochester & St. John Rivers
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.
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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