When it comes to classic literature, few works are as well-loved or as widely read as Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. And for good reason – the story is a timeless tale of love and loss, hope and heartbreak. But what many readers don’t realize is that the novel is also filled with references to art and paintings.
In fact, some scholars believe that art plays a major role in Jane’s development as a character. For example, one scene in the novel features Jane looking at a painting of a young woman who has been jilted by her lover. The painting makes Jane feel sympathy for the woman, and she begins to see herself in the same situation.
This experience leads Jane to reflect on her own life and relationship with Mr. Rochester. She begins to see that she, too, has been jilted by someone she loves, and that she is in a similar position as the woman in the painting. This realization helps Jane to come to terms with her own feelings and to start moving on with her life.
Art plays a significant role in Jane’s development as a character, and it is also used as a tool to further the plot of the novel. For example, another painting Jane looks at is a portrait of Mr. Rochester’s first wife, Bertha Mason. The portrait is said to be very lifelike, and it scares Jane when she first sees it. However, looking at the portrait later helps Jane to understand Bertha and to feel sympathy for her.
Without the paintings, Jane may never have come to these realizations about herself and her relationships. The art in the novel Jane Eyre is used as a tool to further the plot and to develop the characters. It is an important part of the story and should not be overlooked.
The painting of Jane, as a representation of her inner thoughts and feelings, serves to connect her with others who see it; it functions as a link between her wish for solitude and her need for social contact. Despite her difficulties with internal conflict and the people in her life, Jane’s art aids in the discovery of personal strength, revealing her true self as a woman.
The paintings Jane creates throughout Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre not only provide a window into her soul, but also act as a means of connection between Jane and the other characters in the novel. art is one of the few things that Jane has complete control over in her life; it is something that she can turn to when she feels powerless and alone.
In the early part of the novel, when Jane is living with her aunt and cousins at Gateshead, she is constantly reminded of her low status in the family. She is treated as a servant and made to wear ugly clothes, and she is not allowed to mix with her cousins. The only time Jane feels happy is when she is drawing or painting; in these moments, she can forget her troubles and lose herself in her art.
Jane’s paintings also serve as a way to connect with other characters in the novel. For example, when Jane is working as a governess at Thornfield, she paints a picture of Mr. Rochester’s dog, Pilot. Rochester is so impressed by Jane’s work that he hangs the painting in his room, and the two of them bond over their shared love of art.
Later on, after Jane has left Thornfield and is living in Marsh End (later renamed Ferndean), she paints a picture of the moors. This painting helps her to remember her happy times at Thornfield and to feel connected to Rochester, even though they are living apart.
Through her paintings, Jane Eyre is able to express her innermost thoughts and feelings, and to connect with the people and places that are important to her. Her art is a true reflection of her identity, and it is through her art that Jane is finally able to find peace within herself.
Art has given Jane a mechanism for action and a way to survive the terrible circumstances in which she was raised, allowing her to become a wealthy, self-sufficient social equal. One of the first activities in the story is when Jane demonstrates her resourcefulness and mental escape for the first time.
When Jane is locked in the Red Room as punishment, she looks to the art around her for distraction by studying every minute detail of a painting of a shipwreck. This scene allows readers to see how Jane’s imagination can take her away from her dreary reality into a world of beauty and hope.
The paintings Jane sees on her travels also provide strength and comfort when she needs it most. After being rejected by Rochester and fleeing Thornfield, Jane spends many days wandering aimlessly in the moors. She becomes severely ill and is finally taken in by St. John Rivers and his sisters. While staying with them, Jane often gazes upon a portrait of their deceased mother that hangs above the fireplace. The women in the painting have an “expression of almost supernatural benignity” (Bronte 399) that Jane finds comforting.
Later in the novel, after Jane has married Rochester and they are living at Ferndean Manor, Rochester shows Jane a portrait he had commissioned of her. She is pleased with the painting, but Rochester says that it does not do her justice. He says that the artist “caught the effect, but not the cause” (Bronte 430). Jane is moved by this statement, because it shows that Rochester sees her inner strength and beauty, even more so than her outer appearance.
The artwork in Jane Eyre not only provides comfort and escape for the protagonist, but also serves as a means of self-discovery and empowerment. Jane is able to find beauty in the world around her, even in the darkest of times, which helps her to persevere through difficult situations. The paintings also help Jane to see herself in a new light, as someone who is strong and capable, worthy of love and happiness.
Meg re-establishes her power by escaping into a book “with the goal that it should be one with pictures” (2). She goes to a solitary window-seat, “having drawn the crimson moren curtain nearly closed… shrined in double retirement,” and disappears behind Berwick’s History of British Birds (2).
The red curtain and Jane’s “double retirement” suggest that she is hiding from the world, and the book with pictures provides an escape into another world. The fact that it is a history book also suggests that Jane is looking for a way to connect to her own past and to understand her place in the world.
When Jane returns to Gateshead Hall as a governess, she again turns to art as a form of escape. After her students go to bed, Jane often goes to the portrait gallery, where she gazes at the paintings and imagines herself in their lives. She is particularly drawn to a painting of a young woman, who Jane imagines is unhappy in her life and is reaching out to Jane for help.
The paintings in Jane Eyre play a significant role in Jane’s life, providing her with a form of escape from her difficult reality. They also offer Jane a way to connect with her own past and to understand her place in the world. Charlotte Bronte uses the paintings to add another layer of meaning to the novel and to further explore Jane’s character.