Charlotte Bronte makes use of nature imagery throughout "Jane
Eyre," and comments on both the human relationship with the outdoors
and human nature. The Oxford Reference Dictionary defines "nature" as
"1. the phenomena of the physical world as a whole . . . 2. a thing's
essential qualities; a person's or animal's innate character . . . 4.
vital force, functions, or needs." We will see how "Jane Eyre"
comments on all of these.
Several natural themes run through the novel, one of which is the
image of a stormy sea. After Jane saves Rochester's life, she gives us
the following metaphor of their relationship: "Till morning dawned I
was tossed on a buoyant but unquiet sea . . . I thought sometimes I
saw beyond its wild waters a shore . . . now and then a freshening
gale, wakened by hope, bore my spirit triumphantly towards the bourne:
. . a counteracting breeze blew off land, and continually drove
me back." The gale is all the forces that prevent Jane's union with
Rochester. Later, BrontÃÂ«, whether it be intentional or not, conjures
up the image of a buoyant sea when Rochester says of Jane: "Your
habitual expression in those days, Jane, was . . . not buoyant." In
fact, it is this buoyancy of Jane's relationship with Rochester that
keeps Jane afloat at her time of crisis in the heath:
"Why do I struggle to retain a valueless life? Because I know, or
believe, Mr. Rochester is living."
Another recurrent image is Bronte's treatment of Birds. We first
witness Jane's fascination when she reads Bewick's History of British
Birds as a child. She reads of "death-white realms" and "'the solitary
rocks and promontories'" of sea-fowl. We quickly see how Jane
identifies with the bird. For her...