In Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre, how does the weather at Thornfield, Moor House, and Ferndean reflect Jane's internal struggle to develop mentally and emotionally?
Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre makes use of the literary device sometimes known as the "pathetic fallacy" of projecting human emotions onto inanimate phenomena such as the weather. In particular, Brontë has the weather reflect the interior state of the protagonist.
The first major association of Jane Eyre's moods with the weather actually occurs in the opening chapter of the book, in Gateshead Hall, where we see Jane viewing the November weather and associating its gray, gloomy aspect with her own mood. This creates for the reader the sense that Jane herself is abnormally sensitive to weather and scenery, something typical of the protagonists of Romantic literature.
At Lowood, pleasant Spring weather has a major effect on Jane's mood, giving her a degree of emotional strength, as we see in the following passage:
Spring drew on: ... and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.
The weather when Jane Eyre goes for her first walk in the morning at Thornfield is described as follows:
It was a fine autumn morning; the early sun shone serenely ... Farther off were hills: not so lofty as those round Lowood, nor so craggy, nor so like barriers of separation from the living world; ...
Here, the serenity of the weather and moderation of the hills suggest that we will see Jane develop from a rebellious and impulsive child into a more mature and self-controlled woman. Where in Lowood the hills were "craggy" and Jane's struggles with anger and depression intense, we see that Jane in this new environment is developing strength and calm, in an environment which accurately gives her a "promise of a smooth career", an impression confirmed in her first meeting with Rochester, when her developing inner strength is paralleled by an outer strength that lets her enjoy a long winter walk and help Rochester back on his horse.
Although the weather at Moor House is initially harsh, and Jane almost dies from it, we see again a quiet strength and Christian faith strengthening in Jane that allows her to not only adapt to her conditions but thrive in them. Jane's contentment, except for her longing for Rochester, in the environs of manor house is expressed in terms of a weather metaphor:
To live amidst general regard, though it be but the regard of working people, is like "sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet;" serene inward feelings bud and bloom under the ray.
When Jane arrives at Ferndean, the weather is dark and rainy, and the scenery gloomy, mirroring the "dark night of the soul", that reflects her misery at missing Rochester and Rochester's despair. Unlike the younger Jane, she does not react by being fearful or depressed or hesitant, but simply proceeds on her way undaunted by the exterior aspect of the place, having found the sort of inner strength that no longer can be overcome by weather.