Fire and Ice in "Jane Eyre"

Essay by niki113090 September 2007

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In "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte, there is much reference to the imagery of both fire and ice. Bronte uses these two conflicting substances for various reasons. For instance, they are alluding to depending on a character's mood, their current situations, and their actions. Fire and ice, though each other's anti-thesis, have alternatively positive and negative implications and connotations. The author makes it extremely evident that both fire and ice become important symbols throughout the novel.

Fire has multiple connotations to it. Some relate fire to lust, passion, sexual desire, and romance, while others view it as a warm and comforting sensation. It also can be thought of as a dangerous thing that can burn, such as with a conflagration. The orangey-red color of fire itself is often seen as an alarming warning of some sort. All of these different views of fire are touched based upon in Jane Eyre.

The story opens up at the house of the cruel-hearted Mrs. Reed (Jane's Aunt). Chapter IV begins with Jane seeking comfort from the fire that was burning in thenursery right before she departed from Gateshead. Jane recalls that she "then sat with my doll on my knee till the fire got low." (23) Upon her arrival at Lowood, Jane also refers to fire as something of comfort. She explains thatthe servant led me through a passage into a room with a fire, where she left me alone. I stood and warmed my numbed fingers over the blaze, then I looked round; there was no candle, but the uncertain light from the hearth showed, by intervals, papered walls, carpet, curtains, shining mahogany furniture: it was a parlour, not so spacious or splendid as the drawing-room at Gateshead, but comfortable enough. (35)Jane calms herself with the warmth of the...