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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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AUTHOR'S STYLE

Thackeray (the nineteenth-century novelist and the author of Vanity Fair) described Charlotte Brontë's writing as "noble English." In Jane Eyre she writes in a style which expresses precisely what she wishes to convey. She dislikes ornamentation and the use of too many words. Her style is plain and straightforward. Mrs. Gaskell (the biographer) remarked that her "care makes her style present the finish of a piece of mosaic."

Because of this "care," the pictures she draws of both people and scenes are unforgettable. Charlotte Brontë's style at its best is vivid and powerful. For example, the moor lands over which Jane wanders, Hay Lane (where she first meets Mr. Rochester) and the candle-lit room at Moor House into which the homeless Jane gazes, are all described so vividly that they are difficult to forget.


At the same time it is true that Charlotte Brontë's style sometimes resorts to words and turns of expression that are not those of actual speech. For example, she describes John Reed's "spacious visage." What she really means is fat face. At another place she has used the expression, "evacuating the refectory" for "leaving the dining room."

SYMBOLISM

There are many poetic symbols in Jane Eyre. Fire is the most dominant symbol in the novel. Fire can be destructive, as seen in Bertha's burning of Thornfield Hall. The domestic fire is associated with human vitality, while cold and damp are associated with death. A great deal of narration is spent on the fire in Miss Temple's room. The stress is not only on the physical comfort of fire, but also on fire as a symbol of kindness, friendship and acceptance.

The chestnut tree stuck by lightning into two halves symbolizes the fact that Jane and Mr. Rochester are to separate. The incident in which Bertha rips apart the wedding veil symbolizes Mr. Rochester's betrayal of his wife and also that of his now beloved Jane.

The fire becomes a symbol at times for a life of sacrifice and self- abnegation. St. John suppresses his passion for the charming Rosamond because of his call to the missionary life. It is almost as if his "heart is already laid on a sacred altar: the fire is arranged around it."

The moon is a symbol of deception. In the scene of Mr. Rochester's proposal to Jane, Jane is a victim of deception. Mr. Rochester asks Jane if she would be his beloved. Jane wants to see him, and so she asks him to turn to the moonlight because she wants to read his face. The moonlight becomes here a symbol of deception, mystery and evil.

The repetition of certain symbols in the novel contributes to its poetic quality. The novelist's persistent return to these symbols enriches the novel's meaning, poetic beauty and sense of unity.

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