In Ch. 23 of Jane Eyre, ''A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel walk'' after Rochester proposes. What does the wind symbolize?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Mr. Rochester proposes to Jane, he is taking a huge-and potentially risky-step in his life.  For a long time, his life has been stagnant-motionless, stale.  He has felt trapped by his unfortunate marriage to his first wife, suffocating, fighting for each breath in each day.  So, his proposal to Jane could symbolize the breath of fresh air, the possibility of joy again in his life.  However, sweeping wind also is often the omen of a coming storm.  This is true also; the moment that he proposes, it sets forth a dangerous storm of events that eventually leads to Jane leaving him in turmoil, and the fire and resulting tragedies at his home.  

Wind also becomes symbolic later in the story as Jane hears Rochester's pleas in the wind. Just as he called her to him in the proposal, and wind was present, wind brought his call to her across the miles later on.  It is his call on the later wind that brings her back to him.  For the Bronte sisters, wind was often a symbolic and haunting literary tool that they used in their stories, and that is seen here too.

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Jane Eyre

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