What details does Brontë provide about the weather in the opening chapter of Jane Eyre?

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Bronte uses the pathetic fallacy in the opening chapter, which assigns human feelings to non-human entities. For example, the northern islands Jane reads about are made "melancholy" or sad by the bad weather there. Further, the weather Jane experiences, looking out the window of the Reed home, is "sombre," windy, and relentlessly rainy, reflecting the emotionally dark and desolate conditions in which Jane lives with her aunt and cousins. The violence of the weather, such as the winds and pelting rains, also reflect the howling storm of fear and rage rising in Jane's soul.

The rain and wind on a November day function more prosaically as a plot device, explaining why all the children are indoors. Jane writes:

I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes

The bleak weather is Gothic: the dark and rainy day becomes a dark and rainy night, setting the scene for what will soon, at least to the frightened young Jane, become a seemingly supernatural horror story. She is locked up in the red-room after defending herself against John Reed's abuse and has a fit when she thinks a gleam of light is a ghost.

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Descriptions of weather in a story like Jane Eyre often help to set the mood, or tone, for the story. Brontë includes descriptions of the weather in the very first paragraph of her novel. She writes,

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 beginning of the novel is set in the winter, in cold, cloudy, and rainy weather.

In the following paragraphs we get some more descriptive words like chilly and drear November day. Relaying to us how Jane thinks about her own environment and how our narrator describes the weather, Brontë writes,

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.

There is even a description of the weather in the book that Jane is reading as she sits on the window-seat. The mention of the weather in the book mirrors the weather in Jane's own vicinity:

"Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls, Boils round the naked, melancholy isles Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge Pours in among the stormy Hebrides...."

Perhaps it is the description of the weather in the book that is informing how Jane describes the weather to us, her readers. She is a child here and is learning how to use language to describe her surroundings, and perhaps the book's contents are feeding her imagination. There are certainly more interpretations of the role of the weather in this chapter, too.

Another analysis of what these descriptions of the weather mean or add to the story might consider, for example, how the tension and intensity Jane feels in John's presence is reflected in the "ceaselessness" of the rain outside. The rain is falling relentlessly, intensely, and without pause, just as John's abuse of Jane is continuous, anxiety-producing, and frightening.

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