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Essay on Jane Eyre and the Burning Bed

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In Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, fire appears both as a figurative and a very real, physical entity that wreaks havoc upon Jane Eyre’s consciousness and physical being. The depictions of fire found in Jane Eyre demand attention and exact a powerful and inescapable control over those they affect. Fire appears in a multiplicity of manifestations--as a small kindle that warms a cold room, as a candle, which illuminates the darkness, a blaze that burns, or as a consuming entity that exists in Jane's inner self. Both the alluring and destructive forces of fire likewise make it an overwhelming entity that can give life but also destroy. In Jane Eyre fire both entices, and challenges Jane, as she wrestles not only with external fires that might seek to destroy her, but also as she wrangles with those metaphorical fires that rage within her which too seek to harm her. Fire in Charlotte Brontë's novel is a complex signifier underscoring external forces and internal forces such as desire, fury, greed, sin and passion. But just fire comes to symbolize these concepts so too does it give insight into Jane’s burning inner nature which oscillates, just as her name might serve to indicate, between practicality, and airiness, lightness and dark, ice and fire—she can be both reserved and tempestuous, timid and bold, much like the nature of fire. Moreover, it is through the destructive and powerful conceit of fire that Jane’s character becomes strengthened and in struggling through fire she reveals pieces of her own wants and desires which might have henceforth remained hidden. In effect, Jane not only battles through the fire but is herself a force that burns and rages from within which she must wrangle with throughout the novel. Thus, through fire...


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...must re-direct her internal destructive qualities to other more productive outlets, transforming her internal self-hatred into external, industrious passions, as she does with of teaching and by loving Mr. Rochester. It is through the crucible and eventual transformation revealed through Jane's encounters with physical fires and her own internal burning, that she grows to find self-assuredness, and reconciliation in herself as an impassioned, yet not self-destructive force. Of the many forms fire takes, divergent and complimentary—all work to try Jane, plunging her into a crucible through which she must prevail. It is only in surviving such fires that Jane grows as a heroine as she gains fortitude; metamorphosing into an autonomous character who can battle not only those forces beyond her, but perhaps more importantly those internal demons that seek to cripple her.



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