Jane Eyre

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Fire and Ice Symbol Analysis

Fire and Ice Symbol Icon
Fire is a symbol of emotion in the novel. Mr. Rochester has a fiery personality, while St. John is associated with ice and snow, symbolizing his dispassionate character. Jane draws arctic scenes in her portfolio that symbolize death. She wants the vitality that fire brings, but also to keep it under control. On the other hand, Bertha Mason, who has no control over her feelings, is a pyromaniac. The inferno at Thornfield illustrates the danger of letting the passions run wild.

Fire and Ice Quotes in Jane Eyre

The Jane Eyre quotes below all refer to the symbol of Fire and Ice. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Jane Eyre published in 2006.
Chapter 25 Quotes
I faced the wreck of the chestnut-tree; it stood up black and riven: the trunk, split down the centre, gaped ghastly … their great boughs on each side were dead, and next winter's tempests would be sure to fell one or both to earth: as yet, however, they might be said to form one tree—a ruin, but an entire ruin.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire and Ice
Page Number: 318
Explanation and Analysis:

On the day of the wedding, Jane wanders outside and sees a chestnut tree that has been struck by lightning. Turning all her powers of observation on the tree, Jane finds it to be a powerful image, though at the same time ominous and troubling. The tree is in a vulnerable, delicate state at the moment: its many boughs are dead, but have not yet fallen to earth, though it is inevitable that they will do so. Trees struck by lightning are sometimes used in the Bible as a sign for the power and will of God. Jane, cognizant of this history, most likely is troubled by the thought that, on a day that should be joyful and carefree, there is such a frightening symbol of what may lie ahead. The "ruin" of the tree, for a reader who has finished Jane Eyre, also foreshadows the ruin of the place that she and Rochester call home. Although the novel ends up revealing certain supernatural-seeming elements as based in reality (though still disturbing), in other ways it continues to stress the possibility of connecting natural, supernatural, and social affairs symbolically.


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Fire and Ice Symbol Timeline in Jane Eyre

The timeline below shows where the symbol Fire and Ice appears in Jane Eyre. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
Feeling vs. Judgment Theme Icon
The Spiritual and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...and sees smoke coming from Rochester's bedroom—Rochester is asleep, but his bed curtains are on fire. She douses the curtains with water, putting out the fire and saving his life. (full context)
Chapter 33
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
Social Class and Social Rules Theme Icon
Feeling vs. Judgment Theme Icon
The following night, St. John fights through the snow to visit Jane. He tells her a story which, to Jane's astonishment, is her own... (full context)
Chapter 36
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
Social Class and Social Rules Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Spiritual and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...from the proprietor of a local inn. Bertha escaped and set Jane's old bedroom on fire. As the inferno spread, Rochester helped all the servants get out safely. But he could... (full context)