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What is an example of how a symbol is used in Jane Eyre?

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hozaien | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:26 PM via web

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What is an example of how a symbol is used in Jane Eyre?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 30, 2013 at 10:14 PM (Answer #1)

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An example of a symbol in Jane Eyre is fire, which represents rebirth.

Fire has many meanings in literature.  It can often symbolize rebirth, such as a phoenix rising from the ashes.  In this case, it is more than just one of the spooky gothic elements.

One of the first uses of fire is in the red-room.  Red is a common color in gothic novels, developing a dreary and gloomy mood.  In this case though, interestingly enough the red-room has no fire.

This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire; it was silent, because remote from the nursery and kitchens; solemn, because it was known to be so seldom entered. (ch 2)

In the very beginning Mrs. Reed is sitting by the fireside with her children, but does not allow Jane to be there.  In this chapter we see a room described as devoid of love, represented through the lack of fire.  This is also the scene where we learn Jane is going to be sent away.  She is about to be reborn, and start a new life.

Jane even compares herself to fire.

“Come, Miss Jane, don't cry,” said Bessie as she finished. She might as well have said to the fire, “don't burn!” but how could she divine the morbid suffering to which I was a prey? (ch 3)

When the doctor asks her why she is crying, she says she is miserable.

Other important examples of rebirth by fire are when Jane pours water over Mr. Rochester when his crazy wife tries to kill him and when Mr. Rochester almost dies.  In each case, the relationship is brought to a new level.  They realize they love each other in the first fire, and that they are meant to be together (and can be) in the second one.

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