Cinderella has a slipper, Sleeping Beauty has a spinning wheel, and Pocahontas has the wind. Symbols are everywhere and can have deeper meaning or foreshadow what is coming. Jane Eyre had many symbols that improved her for the better, and took her on a journey of growth. in Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, she incorporated the symbols of the moon, weather, and birds to show how Jane grows and becomes more independent.
Just as Sleeping Beauty was drawn to the spinning wheel, Jane was drawn to the moon. Bronte used the symbol of the moon to symbolize guidance and light into Jane’s life. Jane is lost and she needs guidance, the moon gave her the guidance and was compared to her mother. The moon was “a white human form” that “whispered in [Jane’s] heart” and said, “daughter, flee temptation” (325). She trusts the moon and doing so by trusting its wisdom and following the path it gives. The guidance Jane felt from the moon helped her grow and feel like she could go and break social boundaries. The extra “push” was what she needed to go and receive her fairy-tale like ending. In Jane’s emotional journey/growth towards independence, she was metaphorically represented by the moon. The moon was “pale as a cloud” and at times could be “brightening momentarily.” (117). The moon is a symbol towards Jane’s emotions. Jane is a woman who is bright at times, but normally pale and very introverted. Her independence is changing, just as the moon. This movement the moon symbolized is necessary in her growth because without going through the tough times in her journey, Jane must go through them to become independent. Through the moon, Jane recieved guidance leading her to her journey of growth.
Like Cinderella, Jane flew from her troubles. Another symbol Bronte used is the symbols of birds, representing freedom. Jane saw birds as privileged because they have the freedom that she does not have. Jane received some of that independence as she grew and “felt like a messenger pigeon” that is “flying home.” (470). Jane finally felt a freedom to choose her path, that she gained from growing. She took her freedom, forgetting how her past self was as fragile as a glass slipper. Jane is a woman; a woman who grew as a person by opening her wings and flying for her independence. “No net ensures” Jane and she has become “a free human being”. and finally, she receives “independent will.” (283). Jane is free-willed, breaking from the shell that is holding her back. Jane has received the privilege of being free that she used to desire. Through the symbol of a bird, it shows Jane has become free and independent.
The wind tells Pocahontas what to follow, like the wind and rain tell Jane to go on her own path. Bronte uses the symbols of weather to foreshadow and show the emotion Jane is feeling. Jane is going to Lowood school, where Mr. Brocklehurst treats the students horribly. On the way to Lowood there is “rain” which means fresh start/something bad with “wind and darkness” (52). Through the symbols of rain and wind, it foreshadowed the hardships to come at Lowood. Jane did not really want to go to Lowood, and she feels like Mrs. Reed betrayed Mr. Reed, and another aspect of her receiving a fresh start. The “wind” told her that something new is brewing. Another time when weather foreshadowed Jane’s life, is about her relationship with Rochester. After Rochester proposes, “the great horse-chestnut” when Jane and Rochester shared a moment by, “had been struck by lightning” and “half of it split away.” (261). The quotation is representing the relationship between Jane and Rochester, splitting away from the other, also showing the pain Jane felt from Rochester betraying her. The lightning foreshadowed Jane’s heart being torn by the decision of fight or flight, as well as Jane finding out about Bertha Mason. Jane did not think about the symbols or the “wind” talking to her because she is so lost in love. With the symbols of weather, Bronte foreshadows and emphasizes Jane’s emotions.
Throughout the novel, we could grasp more of what Jane is feeling and going through by the symbol of the moon, birds and weather. The world is full of symbols, and with symbols there comes a better understanding of the situation. Cinderella and the glass slipper, Pocahontas and the wind, and Sleeping Beauty with the spinning wheel. As humans, we tend to see these symbols and signs to guide us through life, just as Bronte uses them to guide us through the novel.
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Penguin Books, 1996.