External and Internal Forces in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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External and Internal Forces in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

In Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, the eventual goal of Jane Eyre’s journeys and struggles as a character is for Jane to be strong enough within herself to stand on her own. It is not until she finds this internal strength that she can live as a content individual and weather the distracting demands put on her by the external forces that surround her. Throughout most of the novel, Jane makes the mistake of looking for this internal peace through external forces like Mrs. Reed, Mr. Rochester and St. John. To convey this tendency, Charlotte Brontë constructs her narrative so that, rather than looking within herself to find internal solace, Jane turns away from cold, alien internal imagery, and looks instead to fickle external imagery that is at times a friend, and at times a foe. The internal imagery is reflective of Jane’s own internal state, and the external imagery is reflective of the state of the external forces that surround her; until Jane realizes that she cannot find solace in the ever-changing external forces around her, and must instead look inside herself for this solace, the internal imagery must remain cold and alien, and the external imagery must remain unpredictable in its ability to comfort.

For the purposes of this paper, the external world is defined as any force, whether this force is human or of the natural world, that is outside of Jane Eyre, and thus threatens to distract Jane from her essential journey as a character. The internal self is within Jane, and must be strong in order for Jane to stand on her own and able to withstand the external forces of the narrative. From the very first scenes of the novel, Jane looks to the external wor...

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...the wood symbolizes and find their way home, toward the internal happiness that “home” represents.

The novel Jane Eyre details one woman’s journey to find a place for herself in a world that does not want her. In order to do this, she must find internal strength and solace. For a large portion of the novel, she seeks and fails to find this through external forces. For every two steps forward, she takes one step back because of external forces that draw her away from this internal self. However, Jane does manage to progress and eventually find internal happiness. Her journey and her turn to the external, battle with the internal, and eventual acceptance of her internal self in spite of external forces is embodied in the external and internal imagery that Bronte uses throughout the course of the novel. Such imagery is inherently necessary to Jane’s evolution.

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