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Use of Weather in Jane Eyre


In the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, good weather is Bronte’s tool to foreshadow positive events or moods and poor weather is her tool for setting the tone for negative events or moods.  This technique is exercised throughout the entire novel, alerting the readers of the upcoming atmosphere.

In the novel, Jane’s mood is, to a degree, determined by the weather mentioned. For example, after Jane was publicly and falsely accused of being a liar by Mr. Brocklehurst, an upcoming positive event was predicted when Jane described her surroundings, “Some heavy clouds swept from the sky by a rising wind, had left the moon bare; and her light streaming in through a window near, shone full both on us and on the approaching figure, which we at once recognize as Miss Temple” (62).  Surely enough, Miss Temple invited the two girls to her room and treated them with cake and tea, which brought Jane comfort from the public humiliation.  “We feasted that evening as on our nectar and ambrosia; and not the least delight of the entertainment was the smile of gratification of our hostess regarded us, as we satisfied our famished appetites on the delicate fare she liberally supplied” (65).  Another example of this is Jane’s first morning at Thornfield.  A positive mood was foreshadowed when Jane described the weather as such: “The chamber looked such a bright little place to me as the sun shone in between the gay blue chintz window and carpeted floor, so unlike the bare planks and strained plaster of Lowood, that my spirit rose at the view” (90). This not only foreshadowed the positive mood of Jane, but also the experience she would have in the near future living in Thornfield.  She would soon discover her husband to be Mr. Rochester and appreciate her companies such as Mrs. Fairfax and Adele, who for the first time in her life treat her as an equal.  All positive weather described in the novel foreshadowed either a positive mood or event, sometimes both.  Bronte was consistent with this use of the weather.

On the other hand, poor weather in the novel was used to foreshadow negative events or moods.  In the opening of the novel, when Jane was living in Gateshead, she was reading while an unpleasant visit of John Reed was foreshadowed:  “After it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud: hear, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub” (2).  Jane confronted John Reed and was sent to the red room that she dreaded.  Later in the novel, when Mr. Rochester proposed to Jane, the departing of the two was strongly foreshadowed when “[the tree] had been struck by lighting… half of it split away” (244). Following this description, the truth of Mrs. Rochester was later revealed and Jane forced herself to leave Mr. Rochester. This once again assures the accuracy of the predicting weather. 

Charlotte Bronte was clever with her use of the weather to foreshadow upcoming moods and events.  Although this strategy followed a strict rule, the scenes in the novel were not expected or plain.  She gave the readers hints of what was to be expected, but only in the way to encourage the readers to read on.



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