Pathetic fallacy is a term invented by John Ruskin, an English thinker, to ascribe strong feelings and emotions to inanimate things. According to Ruskin, this was an artistic mistake as it might impose erroneous judgments on the reader. However, this term has been assimilated in Literature as a more allusive case of personification and authors like Dickens and Bronte have largely used it in their writings. The opening of Jane Eyre is a good example of this:
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.
The allusive cold and unpleasant weather allows the readers envisage Jane’s loneliness. Hence, the sombre wind and the penetrating rain are details that express discomfort and emphasize Jane’s gloomy state of mind. In fact, Jane feels as uncomfortable outdoors as she does indoors because if the bad weather prevents her from walking, her relatives’ hostility also causes discomfort to her. In other words, Jane feels the “cold” both inside and outside.