Bird Imagery in Jane Eyre

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In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte uses many types of imagery to provide understanding of the characters and also to express reoccurring themes in the novel. Through bird imagery specifically, we are able to see Jane develop from a small, unhappy child into a mature and satisfied young woman. "The familiarity and transcendence of birds have given them a wider range of meaning and symbol in literature than any other animal. The resemblance of their activities to common patterns of human behavior makes them exceptionally suitable for anthropomorphic imagery that links man to the common forms of nature" (Lutwack xii). Through the use of birds such as doves and sparrows Bronte enables the audience to gain insight into the type of person that Jane…show more content…
She has no connection with any of the Reeds, and therefore she finds refuge in the secluded seat, a place where she can escape from the tortures of the Reeds, and become transported into a world all her own. Furthermore, for Jane the window seat is a form of tranquility the idea of flying above the toils of everyday life appeals to her, much more than taking abuse from John Reed, the oldest of the Reed children, and Mrs. Reed. Through the images of isolated seafowl in Bewick’s book and the "solitary" window seat we are able to see the loneliness that encompasses Jane while at Gateshead, and her longing to be separated from the Reeds. The link between Jane and birds is strengthened after she leaves Gateshead and moves to Lowood Institution. Bronte foreshadows poor nutrition at the school through a hungry bird whom Jane gives the remains of her breakfast. "My vacant attention soon found livelier attraction in the spectacle of a little hungry robin, which came and chirruped on the twigs of the leafless cherry-tree" (41; ch. 4). This description of a hungry bird allows the reader to understand Jane’s compassion for others, and her willingness to give. It also seems to foreshadow Jane’s struggle at Lowood with poor nutrition and moreover how she is forced to share her meals with other students:

Many a time I have shared between two claimants the precious morsel of brown bread distributed at
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