There are many symbols of fire in Jane Eyre, which can be seen as a representation of the passionate and intense emotions that Jane experiences throughout the novel. Fire is first introduced in the book when Jane is locked in the red-room at Gateshead Hall, and it becomes a significant motif during her time at Lowood School and Thornfield Manor.
At Gateshead Hall, Jane is locked in the red-room, where her Uncle Reed died, as punishment for striking her cousin Georgiana. The room is described as being full of “gloomy furniture” and Jane feels like she is “suffocating”. The symbol of fire is used here to represent Jane’s feelings of anger and frustration at being locked away and treated like a prisoner.
At Lowood School, Jane and the other students are forced to endure cold winters with little food or warmth. The girls often dream of being rescued by a “knight in shining armour”, which represents their hope for a better future. Jane eventually meets Mr. Rochester, who symbolises the knight in shining armour, and they fall in love. However, their relationship is soon threatened by the secret that Mr. Rochester is hiding…
The secret is that Mr. Rochester already has a wife, Bertha Mason, who is locked away in Thornfield Manor. Bertha is described as being “mad” and “fiery”, and she frequently sets fire to the Manor. The symbol of fire is used here to represent the destructive power of Bertha’s madness, which threatens to destroy Jane and Mr. Rochester’s relationship.
In the end, Jane Eyre overcomes all the obstacles in her life and is finally reunited with Mr. Rochester. Their love for each other is stronger than ever, and it is represented by the symbol of fire, which burns brightly throughout the novel.
The burning of the two girls symbolizes uncontrollable passion in the poems by Charlotte Brontë. Jane’s upbringing with the Reeds is responsible for this first display of passion. Mrs. Reed considers Jane to be a “volatile combination” of “virulent passions, mean spirit, and dangerous duplicity.” (13)
Jane is locked away in the “red-room” where Mr. Reed died because her aunt believes that Jane is just as passionate and dangerous as he was. However, Jane maintains her innocence and passion only burns brighter because of the way she is being treated.
When Jane finally leaves Thornfield, she does so in the middle of the night. She feels as if she is running away from something, but she doesn’t know what it is. All she knows is that she has to get away. This passion continues to grow when Jane takes a job at Moor House with St. John Rivers. St. John tells Jane that he can see the passion burning within her, but he urges her to control it. Jane is able to do this, but only for a short time.
The passion finally boils over when Jane returns to Thornfield and discovers that Rochester has married another woman. Jane is heartbroken and she feels as if her life is over. She runs away from Thornfield and into the woods. She is so consumed by her passion that she doesn’t realize that she is being followed by Rochester. When he finally catches up to her, Jane faints into his arms.
It is only when Jane comes face-to-face with her passion that she is able to control it. After she regains consciousness, she tells Rochester that she will never be his mistress and she leaves Thornfield for good. This time, she is in control of her passion and she is able to walk away from the man she loves.
While Jane is able to control her passion, it still consumes her. After she leaves Thornfield, she spends months wandering the moors. She is so consumed by her passion for Rochester that she doesn’t realize that she is starving herself. Jane’s passion is finally extinguished when she hears that Rochester has been blinded and maimed in a fire. Jane feels as if her own life has been put out and she no longer has any reason to live.
Jane’s passion for Rochester is finally extinguished when he dies. This allows Jane to move on with her life and find happiness with St. John Rivers. While Jane’s passion for Rochester was ultimately destructive, it was also what made her who she is. Without her passion, Jane would not be the strong and independent woman that she is at the end of the novel.
Helen Burns, Jane’s hyperreligious friend, fuels her zeal with passion in the dreary setting of Lowood. Despite Helen’s “cold and thin” description, she is burning with faith in God while dying. (96) Helen is the one who piques Jane’s interest in religion. After Jane arrives at Thornfield, fire is reintroduced—in a literal sense—for the first time since before her grandmother died.
Jane awakens in the night to see a “strange light” shining in her room and soon realizes that Thornfield is on fire. (154) Jane saves Rochester’s life by going back into the burning building to retrieve him. Fire also consumes Mr. Rochester’s sight and destroys Thornfield, but it is through this destruction that Jane and Rochester are finally able to be together.
Romanticism was a literary movement that Jane Eyre helped to popularize. It emphasized emotion, nature, and individualism—all of which are represented by fire in the novel. The first time we see fire is when Jane lights the candles in her bedroom at Gateshead. She is described as feeling “as if something flamed up in me with a quick intensity” when she does so. (7) This is Jane’s first act of defiance against her aunt and cousins, and it foreshadows the many times Jane will have to fight for what she wants.
When Rochester tells Jane that he is going to be married, she reacts by setting fire to his bed curtains. (239) This time, fire represents Jane’s anger and frustration. She is unable to express her feelings directly to Rochester, so she vents them in this destructive way. Thankfully, Rochester is not hurt—but the same cannot be said for Thornfield.
Fire also symbolizes Jane’s independence and strength. After Thornfield burns down, Jane inherits money from her Uncle John and is able to buy her own home. (369) She no longer has to depend on a man for her livelihood. Jane Eyre is a progressive novel in many ways, and it is clear that Charlotte Bronte intended for Jane to be a strong, independent woman.
The symbolism of fire in Jane Eyre is complex and multi-faceted. It can represent anything from passion and religion to anger and strength. Charlotte Bronte uses fire to create a vivid, Romantic picture of Jane’s life.