Charlotte Bronte’s use of symbolism in Jane Eyre is one of the best examples of the use of symbolism in a book because it offers the richest chance for writers as well as students of literary and linguistic disciplines to best understand and expand on themes that one might want to write about.
When used correctly they transport readers into a subconscious state that they can relate to as well as spark an emotional connection deep in their cores that makes it have a personal touch as the pages turn. Symbolism can be a difficult concept for aspiring authors to grasp. This is because there are questions that need to be answered before they are used in the next sentence or in a context to explain an idea. Such questions include: how does one create the right symbols to begin with? Secondly, what subject should they be symbolic about? Lastly, how does one use them in telling their stories without making them so discernible that they lose all their symbolic value as the reader can depict them straight away without them having a sense of mystery in them? To help answer these questions, there are five methods in which symbolism is employed to enhance a story and what way is better than to learn at Bronte’s feet as she uses it expertly to mold her story which is one of the all-time classics. To illustrate further, we will look into the types of symbolism available:
a) Symbolism type one: Minute details
It is common for writers to exclude the use of symbolism even when explaining the smallest features found in a story. These include things such as the colors that characters wear, the pictures that are used to decorate the walls of their apartments. All of which provide an essential opportunity for the writer to apply some symbolic resonance to. For instance, in the first chapter in Bronte’s story, we find Jane Eyre immersed in a book known as Bewick’s History of British Birds which contains desolate as well as bleak descriptions that paint a picture of the English landscape. At face value, these descriptions have no importance in Jane’s world except that they do. Since the author uses the descriptions to symbolize Jane’s life as an orphan under the care of her cruel aunt (25).
b) Symbolism type two: Motifs
A motif can be described as something that is continuously repeated throughout a particular narrative to give it a common effect. For example, the element of orphanhood is essential as Bronte reinforces this by having it being repeated severally in a few places such as when a servant sings a song including Adele (31), the child being looked after by Jane is also an orphan(37).
c) Symbolism type three: Metaphors
Birds are the primary metaphoric symbol in the book as they represent captivity as well as freedom. They are used for almost every character in the book as they symbolize the relativity associated with the role. For instance, Jane’s sanctuary is associated with being a bird’s cage (154).
d) Symbolism type four: Universal symbols
In this case, weather is a good example, and it is seen when Jane agrees to Rochester’s proposal lightning strikes a tree that is found in the garden (347).
e) Symbolism type five: Hidden Symbolism
The use of it is seen when talking about Rochester’s horse which is named Mesrour. It is hidden because the name is that of the executioner found in the Arabian Nights (356).
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Vintage Books, 2011.
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