In the novel Jane Eyre, it says it's November and the shrubbery has no leaves.Why are these details appropiate to Jane's emotional state and situation?

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mshargaden eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brontë uses setting masterfully at the beginning of the novel to quickly show the reader Jane's emotional and mental state.  Two important themes of the novel are shown right in the first scene: Jane’s isolation and survival in harsh conditions and her search for love

Brontë uses literary device called the “pathetic fallacy" when describing the setting in the first chapter.  "Pathetic fallacy" creates moods in setting and nature to depict the characters' feelings. The cold, grey November weather and the bare wintry branches outside show a glimpse into Jane's state of mind on the first page.  She says that “the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so somber, and a rain so penetrating.” (Emphasis added by me)

in the window seat in the library, Jane describes that

“to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting but not separating me from the drear November day. . . . I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.”(Emphasis added by me)

In the pathetic fallacy, the outside weather is reflecting Jane’s feelings, and also introducing the theme of isolation and loneliness.  It is interesting that Jane is separated from her "family" (which is just in-laws at this point, as her uncle was the one who was related to her, and he is long since dead by this time) though they are in the room, and yet not separated from the outside wintry, desolate day.