Symbolism is a poetic device that a writer or poet uses to elucidate something in hidden meanings. It was a movement, wherein the poets and writers used to illustrate images to make indirect suggestions. It started in the 19th century. Jane Eyre is a novel that contains many significant symbols. Charlotte Bronte uses them to draw readers’ intentions towards important issues of the society; therefore, the novel has more than its literal meanings.
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At Thornfield, Rochester makes every possible effort to make Jane agree to be a respectless mistress. Jane’s situation becomes so poor that she was desperately in need of help from others to get her worse days better; especially upon her self-expulsion from Thornfield. It creates purgation of feelings of pity. In addition, it receives emotional response from the readers; particularly at that time when St. John offers Jane to be a life partner.
However, ultimately Jane becomes able enough to believe in herself and when she develops the capacity to create enough fortune for making her own decisions through efforts, she finds a loyal family, which finally turns out to be her true family. She then realises that she may wed Rochester. Jane in this way symbolises a typical woman of the author’s era when women were not financially independent; rather, they were dependent on men. Thus, the society in which Janes lives is a male-dominated society because males earn. Women are not allowed to make decisions until and unless they earn for themselves; hence, financial independence is one of the main symbols that is associated to Jane Eyre.
Bartha Mason and Symbols of Shadow and Innersole of Jane Eyre
Bertha Mason is a psychological combination of emotions and feelings. She represents spiritual presence in Jane Eyre. She deliberately creates time and again such situations that ruin Jane’s joys. She always tries to bring down her good mood. That is not the only harm that she does to her. Apart from that, she increases doubts and develops fear in her mind. It is the only reason that the process of gradual change in Jane’s self-understanding is affected. The unexplained stories about dread and death completely haunt Jane at every occasion.
In the story, Bertha lays the groundwork for excitement regarding an approaching climax. There is a very troublesome catharsis of fear and anxiety to the sequence of events that happen throughout the novel. All these events left a particular influence on the mind of the protagonist of the play. Besides, to a considerable degree, Bertha contributes a small portion to help us to make acquittance with Rochester’s early days of life. Hence, indirectly she is a symbol of female mirror of Rochester’s youth in the novel Jane Eyre.
Apart from this, Bertha leaves an image on the minds of readers through arbitrary hidden meanings. Numbers of literature students and doctors of analysis and interpretations associate a particular meaning with Bertha by reading about her role in the novel. She, in hidden meanings, conveys many vital messages. She indirectly represents a theme regarding the way a monarchy in north-western Europe acts in a particular situation.
On the other hand, other critics have sighted Bertha as an invisible depiction of a traditional embarrassed woman of that era. The author, in writing, creates a pen picture of a woman who looks forward to doing something for her welfare with a wish to go outside of her home. However, not in any circumstances, she is self-propelled to move. She is not allowed to do mental or physical work neither for the purpose of necessity nor in case she desires.
Furthermore, the narrative description of past events illustrates Bertha’s mental illness. These events are also symbols of the unpleasantness of Jane Eyre. Bertha shares feelings of Jane as Jane becomes an enslaved person in the hands of Rochester along with his other employees. Apart from this, Bertha is a sketch of Jane’s psychic feelings, specifically, of her extreme, violent and exaggerated zeal.
The author also creates Bertha’s character to show the severity of a so-called friendly organized group. Along with other themes of Jane Eyre, gender discrimination is also another important theme of this novel and the author very successfully portrays it through symbols and all of them are associated with Bertha as well as the main character of the novel Jane Eyre. Jane shows her strong positive emotions and affection for Rochester but she is not bold enough to make a bond with him. On the other hand, Bertha always expresses her desires. Hence, in this way, she is contrary to the protagonist.
Thus, Jane not in any circumstances reveals her unbearable mental condition. She always suppresses her grievance but in the case of Bertha, she has the courage to express her feelings. It is evident from the incident when Bertha shatters the innocent and beautiful disguise of a bride. Thus, if Jane Eyre is a symbol of a typical Victorian woman, then Bertha is also its copy with some sceptical behaviour.
It is also noteworthy that when Thornfield approaches to map a state of forced labour, Jane surrenders but Bertha completely rejects it. From the start to the climax of the plot, Jane considers her psychological behaviour intense. She thinks that her psychological imagination is fierce.
Bertha perhaps has been sketched to be Jane’s inner-sole darkness. Jane wants to do some bold actions in real life but she cannot; however, Bertha does those without any hurdle. In this way, Bertha is a symbol of those suppressed desires and emotions that Jane Eyre wants to express in real life but could not for the reasons mentioned earlier.
The red room mentioned at the very beginning of the novel, can be summarized as a literary representation of how Jane must control her emotions in her strenuous efforts to achieve immunity from false dogmas with an addition of her own happiness, intense joy as well as natural appreciation to secure her relationship. In the red room, Jane’s miserable condition of spiritual aloofness along with punishment at the very beginning has been made apparent by the novelist. Although in the end Jane gets rid of the enclosed walls yet she still struggles to be a part of a respectable vicinity; especially, in terms of money.
At the very beginning of the novel, Jane has been thrown into the red room. She has been punished for a sin that she never commits. A time comes when she achieves so much independence that she can take her own financial decisions even then she is thrown out from, love, respect, relationships and affection. In this way, the red room is such a dread that does not leave her, no matter wherever she goes and whatever she does to get rid of it, so much so, that her natural appreciation and ability to make her own decisions, her struggle to find protection from false dogmas and to do something good for herself are time and again put at stake in the novel. It symbolises her mental brawl with her own soul. Thus, the dread of the red room follows her everywhere even when she becomes independent which is one of the most significant symbols of the novel Jane Eyre.
The red room’s frequent reference as a literary representation in every part of the book shows the condition of a woman that has been deprived of her ethical, legal and moral rights. It is referenced again and again as a past experience every time Jane links a relation between previous events and her going-on condition. At the start of the novel, she has been criticised by Mrs Reed’s son without any reason; therefore, the same responds every time she makes a decision. Her dread of being condemned does not leave her alone. As a result, she repeatedly imagines the enclosed dreadful walls when she was considered lower in status at Lowood.
Most importantly, Jane creates an image of the red room in her mind at that time when the moon raises high. She remembers when her punishment was to spend time in a creepy atmosphere where she gazes at her uncle’s ghost; therefore, she never forgets it. Hence, the red room is one of the most important symbols of Jane Eyre accordingly.