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Importance of Setting in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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The Importance of Setting in Jane Eyre


Jane Eyre is a novel, written in the Victorian era by the author Charlotte Bronte.  Bronte uses different setting in order to show what the characters are feeling.  The setting is often a reflection of human emotion.  The setting also foreshadows certain events that are going to occur. 

A use of setting to portray a character's emotion is essential to a novel.  It gives the reader more of a feel for what is going on. An example of this is when Rochester proposes to Jane.  Jane is dazzled and excited about the idea.  The setting echoes her excitement.  "A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel-walk and trembled through the boughs of the chestnut..."  Another instance is when Jane is walking through the Eden-like garden on "a splendid Midsummer, skies so pure, suns so radiant...".  The perfection of the day reflects Jane's return to Thornfield where she feels acceptance, contentment, and love.

The setting can also show the gloom and despair of the character's emotion.  Jane is looking for a place to stay, is refused and made to stay outside in the weather. She weeps with anguish, feels despair, and rejection.  The setting echoes her in that it is "such a wild night".  There is a driving rain and it is cold. The setting can be a reflection of just about any human emotion.

The setting plays a big part in the novel when the author uses foreshadowing.  After Rochester proposes to Jane, the weather turns and the horse-chestnut tree, is split in half.  "...the great horse-chestnut at the bottom of the orchard had been struck by lightning in the night, and half of it split away."
This displays the coming of tragedy and the separation of Jane and Rochester.

Another instance is on the eve of their wedding day. The setting is a cloudy windy night with a red moon,  "her disk was blood-red, and half-overcast..."
This night prefigures what's going to happen the following day: Jane's going to find out the truth about Rochester.  Rochester's description of how he sees Thornfield, "that house is a mere dungeon... filled with slime... cobwebs... sordid slate... and refuse chips", is another.  This setting prepares the reader for its destruction.  It tells the reader what is going to happen before it does.

The setting plays a vital role in the novel.  It is a reflection of the emotions the character express.  The setting can show happiness or despair depending on how the character feels at the moment. The setting is also used as foreshadowing.  Little things that happen prefigure what's going to happen soon.  The setting helps the reader to understand what is happening and what is going to happen. 
   

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