Jane Eyre

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The Red-Room Symbol Analysis

The Red-Room Symbol Icon
The red-room symbolizes how society traps Jane by limiting her freedom due to her class, gender, and independent streak.

The Red-Room Quotes in Jane Eyre

The Jane Eyre quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Red-Room. 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 2 Quotes
Returning, I had to cross before the looking-glass; my fascinated glance involuntarily explored the depth it revealed. All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: … the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the effect of a real spirit.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Red-Room, Portraits and Pictures
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Locked in the red-room after her outburst against John Reed, Jane Eyre looks into the mirror and thinks about the dire straits in which she finds herself, now that her kindly uncle has died and she is a ward of a family that hates her. Here Jane looks at herself as if at a stranger - and, what's more, as if at a ghost. In some ways, this effect of estrangement, or making the familiar strange, underlines how isolated and alone Jane feels. She cannot feel herself a part of this family, but has nowhere else to turn, no one else to love her; and as a child, she must continue to rely on others. 

This passage also sets up an interest in the otherworldly that will characterize the rest of the book. Even the most realistic, bodily characters can slip into and out of a feeling of grounded reality - one that can easily feel not so real when the circumstances become strange enough.


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The Red-Room Symbol Timeline in Jane Eyre

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Red-Room appears in Jane Eyre. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
Social Class and Social Rules Theme Icon
...of starting the fight. As punishment, Mrs. Reed orders Jane to be locked in the red-room. The red-room is a lavishly furnished and rarely used bedroom where, nine years previous, Mrs.... (full context)
Chapter 2
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
Social Class and Social Rules Theme Icon
They lock Jane alone in the red-room. Jane catches sight of her gaunt reflection in the mirror and broods on the injustice... (full context)