The Romantic Era was defined by a newfound freedom in art, music, and life in general. Unlike the Classical Era before it, the era of Shakespeare and The Scarlett Letter, Romanticism gave birth to novels like Wuthering Heights, Dracula, and Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is the quintessential Romantic Novel. It exhibits themes of love, nature, and the ideal Romantic, otherwise known as the Byronic, Hero. Bronte uses these themes to describe intricate settings, passionate love, and the dark, brooding, Byronic Hero. The first theme, and one of the most artfully crafted, exhibited in Jane Eyre is the theme of nature.
Bronte uses colorful and descriptive language to show the reader the setting of the book. Instead of just saying “It was a cold day”, Bronte describes every detail of the scenery, saying instead: Folds of the scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the clear November day… Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast. (p. 2)
It could be argued that this was just the talk of the time, but Bronte goes above and beyond the normal, albeit elegant, speak of the Romantic Era. She brings the theme of nature into her work often, and it plays a large role in setting the tone of the book. The descriptive words demonstrate the importance that nature played in the Romantic Era. Another important theme in the Romantic Era displayed in Jane Eyre is the theme of love. This theme, although obvious in the scheme of the book- after all, this is a love story- is very important as well.
There is not only love between Jane and Mr. Rochester, but also a love shown between Jane and Bessie, and Jane and her friend. For a girl whose house-life was loveless, there are a lot of examples of love in Jane Eyre. The first, and arguably the most important love shown is the love between Jane and Bessie. Without the ounces of love given to Jane through Bessie, her home-life would have been intolerable, and who knows what would have happened. Bessie was the mother figure that Mrs.
Reed couldn’t be. Her only real friend at school, Helen Burns, also loved Jane. Helen was Jane’s first, and only, real friend. Because her “siblings” John, Eliza, and Georgiana were so cruel to her, Helen filled the hole in her heart as her sibling. Jane’s final love connection was with Mr. Rochester, the owner of the house she works at, and, ultimately, her husband. Jane finally found out what real love feels like and this is where the theme of love is the most prevalent.
The final theme shown in Jane Eyre is the theme of the Romantic, or Byronic, Hero. In all Romantic novels, there is a Byronic hero. The Byronic hero is “Aristocratic, cosmopolitan, brilliant, cynical, suave, and moody” (Beach). In Jane Eyre, the Byronic Hero is Mr. Rochester. Rochester is all of the aforementioned things, as well as sarcastic, selfish, and rude. He treats his employees a little bit like slaves, and is not very kind to Jane when she first comes to his home.
He shuts himself up in his room for days, not coming out or socializing. Mr. Rochester’s behavior is the behavior of an ideal Byronic Hero. The themes presented in Jane Eyre truly show that it is the ideal Romantic Novel. It captures the main ideas and themes used in the writing of this time. Nature, love, and the idea of the Byronic Hero, named after Lord Byron himself, are seen throughout the entire novel, making it exemplary of the Romantic Era.