Fire and Heat Imagery in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre Essay

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Fire and Heat Imagery in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

The essence of any true magnificent piece of literature is not what one can see in words. It is what one can see behind the words. It is through the symbolism and imagery found in works of literature that a reader can truly connect with the writer. Charlotte Bronte epitomizes the spirit of the "unread but understood" in her Victorian work Jane Eyre. There have been numerous essays and theories presented examining the complex symbolism and imagery used by Bronte in Jane Eyre. Much of the imagery she uses concentrates on passion, fantasy, and the supernatural. In this essay I will examine Bronte’s use of fire and heat imagery pertaining to Mr. Rochester and Jane’s love relationship.
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When Jane informed Mr. Rochester that she must leave him for the sake of both their souls, his reaction was almost devil like, "his voice and hand quivered: his large nostrils dilated; his eyes blazed." These images of dilating nostrils and blazing eyes are typical of a devil like figure. Rochester, the devil, attempts to convince Jane, the weak human, of going against God and sinning their soul to hell.

To further convince Jane of staying with him, Rochester tells her than he’ll put Adele in a boarding school and get rid of Thornfield. He calls Thornfield "this accursed place--This tent of Achan." In Joshua vii Achan "took of the accursed thing", i.e., he took spoils of war from the conquered city of Jericho, and concealed them in his tent. He and his family were ritually stoned to death at the Lord’s command as a result. Rochester’s situation parallels that of Achan. He, like Achan, wants to claim what is not his. He wants to lay hold on something that he has no right too—essentially Jane Eyre. Also, it is interesting that he refers to Thornfield as an "accursed place." This symbolizes a foreshadowing of the destruction of Thornfield later on in the novel.

Despite all this, Jane, as all humans, falls weak to matters of the heart. Fortunately, whenever her resolve quivers, Bronte uses imagery of cleansing fire to strengthened her. For example, when Jane was leaving for bed after Rochester
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