Fire and Ice

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Charlotte Bronte, in writing the novel Jane Eyre uses a great deal of symbolic imagery to convey various themes throughout the novel. The most interesting type of imagery is Bronte's use of fire and ice imagery to develop the characters of the novel and show the struggle the character of Jane Eyre goes through. Fire most commonly represents passions. While fire and passion can provide warmth and comfort, they can also burn. Ice, or water, symbolizes calm reason, devoid of passion. Ice and reason can provide calm and soothing comfort, but they to can also burn. Throughout the novel, Jane goes back and forth between these two temptations, trying to achieve the right balance between the two, while still preserving her own self.

To develop the character of Jane, Bronte uses a great deal of fire imagery. This is most evident at Gateshead. The novel opens with Jane seating herself at the window-seat.

She draws shut the red curtains around her, effectively closing herself off. Jane sees through the window the cold and gloomy outside world. The winter landscape represents society, cold and emotionless. The curtains, representing Jane's passionate nature, symbolize how Jane's fiery personality alienate her from society. A short while later, John Reed, representing a male-dominated society, enters the room in search of Jane. When John attempts to assert his dominance over Jane, she is unable to control her passionate nature and retaliates. As punishment for giving in to her fiery side, Jane is locked inside the red-room. Obviously, the color red is of importance here. Red is the color of fire and heat, and represents passion and fury. Jane describes the red room's, "massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask"(15), which represents her very passionate nature. At the same time, Jane also...