Cold Imagery in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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Cold Imagery in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

Cold imagery is everywhere in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. There are various forms of cold imagery found in each character's personality and life experiences. Cold images take on various forms, such as Jane's descriptions of pictures in a book displaying the Arctic, and figurative language including ice, water, rain, and sleet. The descriptive imagery of coldness symbolizes both the repression of passion, physical and emotional, and the tribulations endured throughout the course of the novel.

Jane Eyre is a fiercely passionate, vivacious, imaginative individual who expresses her emotions and events through vivid imagery. Jane suffers turmoil from the opening paragraph and narrates her early life experiences with cold images. Charlotte Bronte quickly advises the reader of the turmoil awaiting Jane through the use of a dreary cold winter setting. For example, in the novel Jane says:

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner . . . the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question. I was glad of it; I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John and Georgiana Reed. (39; ch. 1)

The dreary winter setting coincides with the lonely, detached, and abandoned feelings of Jane Eyre. The "leafless shrubbery" implies the desolation felt by Jane. This is also sy...

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...n's degree of repression, which is blatantly obvious as he chastises his sexual urges. Shown explicitly when he says, "When I before Miss Oliver, I do not pity myself, I scorn the weakness. . . . Reason not feeling is my guide" (400; ch. 32). The conscious act of repression and its association with cold imagery is exhibited by many of the characters. Cold imagery is shown through Charlotte Bronte's use of figurative language as she describes the negative feelings of sorrow, fear, heartache, and repressed passion. The coldness of weather is also widely used by Bronte to foreshadow the tribulations soon to be endured by the characters. Imagery of the cold is widespread in Jane Eyre and significantly contributes to the novel.

Works Cited:

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. London, Penguin Books Ltd.: 1996. (Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Michael Mason).
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