Jane Eyre

by

Charlotte Brontë

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Jane Eyre can help.

Jane Eyre: Personification 1 key example

Definition of Personification
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down on the wedding guests, indifferent... read full definition
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down... read full definition
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the... read full definition
Chapter 9
Explanation and Analysis—Hope's Steps:

The narrator personifies the concept of hope in Chapter 9, when she describes the Lowood gardens in spring:

[A] greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshing daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.

Jane describes not simply the feeling of being hopeful, but furthermore imagines Hope as a being who walks through the gardens at night. This personification emphasizes that Jane often looks to her surroundings for emotional cues and also projects her own emotions onto her surroundings. Rather than allow a feeling to spring up within herself, she looks for outside reflections and manifestations of that feeling to confirm that it is warranted. An earlier instance of this same tendency occurs at Gateshead, when she imagines a lantern outside the Red Room as the approach of Mr. Reed's ghost. When she looks at the Lowood gardens, she is imagining their verdure as a signal that Hope has dropped into her life to tell her that her circumstances are finally turning around.

Jane's vision of Hope as an independent being that might choose to pay her a visit or abandon her demonstrates that Jane, when she is young, struggles to feel in control of her circumstances or her happiness. She relies on outside forces to determine her happiness. As she gets older, she gradually takes charge of her own destiny. For instance, she chooses not to marry St. John because she cannot see marriage to him as a hopeful path. She begins cultivating her own hope instead of looking for telltale signs of it in whatever situation the world has offered her.

Jane's imagined vision of Hope in the gardens also belies the narrator's tendency to describe her environment through the subjective lens of her own feelings. The gardens may look hopeful to Jane, but there is also a typhoid outbreak at Lowood during this same period of time. To the sick children, the gardens may look utterly devoid of hope. The narrator's version of events is not necessarily false or deceitful, but it is just one version of the truth that is highly colored by Jane's emotional reality.