Jane Eyre is one of Charlotte Bronte’s most famous novels, and it is loved by many for its strong heroine and passionate love story. But Jane’s relationship with nature is also an important part of the novel, and it plays a significant role in her life.
Jane grows up mostly indoors, as a student at Lowood School and later as a governess at Thornfield Hall. However, she always feels a strong connection to the outdoors, and nature seems to have a calming effect on her. This is evident when she goes for walks in the woods around Lowood and Thornfield, or when she gazes out at the moors from her bedroom window. Even during her time at Lowood, when conditions were often harsh, Jane found solace in nature. She would often go to the woods to sit and think, and the fresh air and peace of the outdoors always made her feel better.
At Thornfield, Jane meets Mr. Rochester, and they soon fall in love. However, their happiness is short-lived when Mr. Rochester’s dark secret is revealed. Jane is forced to leave Thornfield, and she ends up wandering the moors for days, lost and alone. She is finally rescued by some of Mr. Rochester’s servants, but she is so traumatized by her experience that she becomes blind and loses the use of her left hand.
During her time at Moor House, Jane begins to recover from her ordeal, and she regains her sight and the use of her hand. She also comes to realize that nature played a big role in her healing process. Whenever she feels down, she goes for walks in the countryside, and the fresh air always makes her feel better. Jane also comes to understand that nature can be both calming and frightening, but it is always there for her, no matter what happens.
I couldn’t help but notice how the author deliberately used nature in many of his tales. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been having a horrible day, with the weather outside being particularly dreary. Days began as bright, then grew cloudy, and my mood followed suit. Nature spoke to Jane; it confirmed beliefs and emotions for her, as well as providing insights to the reader about characters. When little Jane was younger, she was treated harshly by Mrs. Reed (who cared little for her). This sense was often reflected in Mrs. Reed’s actions when she was caring little for Jane.
Jane was told that she could not play with her cousins because they were “too good” for her. She was made to sit in the nursery by herself and was only allowed out when it was deemed necessary. Jane grew to love nature because it was one of the few things that showed her any sort of affection. The one time Jane felt happy at Gateshead was when she watched the fire burn in the grate and felt the warmth on her face.
Nature also played a role in Jane’s meeting with Mr. Rochester. Jane had ran away from Thornfield after discovering Mr. Rochester’s secret and she ended up getting lost in the woods. She would have died if it weren’t for Mr. Rochester finding her. In this instance, Jane realized that she couldn’t live without Mr. Rochester and nature played a part in bringing them back together. Charlotte Bronte uses nature to show how important Jane Eyre is to the story and how much JaneEyre means to her.
Rather of chastising her own challenging kids, Mrs. Reed blamed Jane for everything. One day, while reading a book in the red chamber, Jane curled up. While browsing through Bewick’s History of British Birds , Jane took particular note of “the solitary rocks and headlands.” (Bronte 2) Miss Eyre’s melancholy and isolation were apparent to the reader. After spending a restless night in the room, Jane looked out at daylight to notice “it was still raining hard outside.”
Jane’s feelings of abandonment are felt by the reader. There is a sense that nature is representative of Jane’s life. While at Lowood Jane finds some comfort in nature, particularly during her walks with Miss Temple. The walks allowed Jane to “enjoy the fresh air… under the bright blue sky.” (Bronte 37) These moments in nature allow Jane to feel free and happy, if only for a short while. When she is finally able to leave Lowood, Jane feels as though she has escaped not only the school, but also the bleakness of the moors.
When Jane arrives at Thornfield she is again greeted by dreary weather, however she is also able to find some solace in nature. Jane often walks in the gardens, and eventually finds her way to a clearing in the woods. It is here that Jane has her first encounter with Mr. Rochester. Jane describes the scene as “one of those heavenly evenings which occur sometimes during our English summer” (Bronte 153) Jane feels comfortable and at ease in nature, and this allows her to open up to Mr. Rochester.
Throughout Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte makes use of nature to reflect Jane’s mood and emotional state. When Jane is feeling lost and alone, the weather is dreary and foreboding. However, when Jane is happy or content, the sun is shining and the sky is blue. Nature mirrors Jane’s inner turmoil, and ultimately plays a significant role in her life.
When such dark conditions prevailed, her “habitual mood of humiliation, self-doubt, and forlorn sadness” was exacerbated. (Bronte 9-10) Jane’s home in Gateshead, like the beast’s castle in “Beauty and the Beast,” emanated an evil spell that prevented the days from being sprinkled with sunshine and happiness. When Jane was admitted to Lowood Institution after enduring Gateshead’s horrible days, it marked the end of Jane’s terrible misery there. Despite the fact that Lowood was a happier home for Jane, she never considered it her home. While washing on a wintery morning when the pitchers were frozen, Jane enjoyed herself immensely.
Jane’s stay at Lowood gave her a new perspective and “wider experience of life” which Jane greatly needed. (Bronte 79) Jane left Lowood after eight years to take on the role as a governess at Thornfield. Jane found true happiness when she fell in love with Mr. Rochester and nature seemed to follow Jane’s lead by being pleasant as well.
One evening, Jane and Rochester ventured out on a horseback ride and ended up getting caught in a thunderstorm. Despite the unfortunate weather, Jane found herself having the time of her life. It wasn’t until Jane was forced to leave Thornfield, that she realized how much nature meant to her.
When Jane is finally reunited with Rochester, they are both content with living a simple life in the country. Jane’s love for nature is further emphasized when she states, “I would not exchange Lowood school and Mr. Brocklehurst’s regime for Gateshead Hall and Mrs. Reed’s tenderness. I would rather be a servant at Gateshead than a queen on the throne.” (Bronte 309) Jane has come to find that true happiness does not lie in materialistic items or power, but in nature, simplicity, and most importantly, love.
Nature played a significant role in Jane Eyre’s life because it helped Jane to develop her character and appreciate the simple things in life. Jane went through many hardships throughout her life, but it was nature that always managed to provide Jane with some sort of comfort. Whenever Jane felt lost or alone, she would find solace in nature.
Charlotte Bronte uses nature to parallel Jane’s mood throughout the novel. When Jane is unhappy, so is the weather. However, when Jane begins to find happiness, the sun starts shining and the birds start singing. By the end of the novel, Jane has come to appreciate the role nature plays in her life and is content with living a simple life in the country with the man she loves.