ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Jane Eyre and Frankenstein Use Symbols of Ice and Fire

Updated on September 6, 2019
Asteriaa profile image

Working towards a Bachelor of Arts, Simran writes articles on modern history, art theory, religion, mythology, and analyses of texts.


In Jane Eyre, fire is used to signify Jane’s spirit, passion, and rage since she associates her emotions with images of fire, warmth, and light. For instance, she compares her mind to, “a ridge of lighted heath, alive, glancing, devouring” (Bronte 1847, p. 65). Those who she recognises a harbourers passion like hers include Rochester.

For example, she described Rochester’s passion as being in a "fury" and glowing like a furnace, with eyes as “flaming and flashing (Bronte 1847, p. 549)”. This describes fire as being both passionate but also has the potential to be dangerous and out of control.

Fire is also used a foreshadowing device. For example, Bertha sets fire to Rochester’s bedsheets, foreshadowing the house fire that would later happen. This expresses fire as also being a warning of danger, similar to Frankenstein’s imagery of fire.

Unlike Jane Eyre, fire in Frankenstein strictly symbolises destruction and damnation. It is important to note that Frankenstein is referred as the “Modern Prometheus” by Shelly (Shelly 1818, p. 1), which is an allusion to Prometheus Unbound (Shelley 1904, p. 4). In the text, Prometheus seeks to give humans knowledge of fire, however, Zeus tortures him for doing so.

In the similar vein, Frankenstein attempts to bring fire to humans through technological advancement, as shown through the symbolization of light used when his creation comes to life,

I paused, examining and analysing all the minutiae of causation, as exemplified in the change from life to death, and death to life, until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me—a light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple…

— Shelly 1818, p. 63

Prometheus defies Zeus and suffers, parallel to the way Frankenstein defies the laws of mother nature and committed an act that would have been condemned by the Judeo-Christian god. It is the power to animate corpses where his inner torture begins and mirrors that of Prometheus; undying and eternal.

This use of intertextuality foreshadows the long-lasting pain that comes with Frankenstein’s creations. Furthermore, fire is caused by the creature’s anger. For instance, when the creature is rejected by the villagers, he sets their cottages on fire "The cottage was quickly enveloped by the flames, which clung to it and licked it with their forked and destroying tongues" (Shelly 1818, p. 206).

The “forked and destroying tongues” gives the flames a demonic appearance that signifies the physical chaos that comes from the creature’s internal emotional chaos and self-destruction. Rage being manifested into a fire is similar to the way imagery of fire is used to express Eyre’s emotions. However, the flames also express her passion, lust, and love, which the Frankenstein does not include.

Video SparkNotes: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Summary

In Jane Eyre, ice and cold are used to describe Eyre’s emotional state. After she learns Mr. Rochester is married, she writes, "I looked at my love: that feeling which was my master's-- which he had created; it shivered in my heart, like a suffering child in a cold cradle” (Bronte 1847, p. 565).

In relation to how she describes herself as a "half-frozen bird" (Bronte 1847, p. 666), she expresses her heartbreak and emotional anguish through cold. The imagery of birds is seen as a motif throughout the text to emphasize Eyre’s emotions (Whiteman 1954, p. 2).

The allusion to the bird in this instance shows Eyre wants to fly away from the isolation she feels from the other characters. As a “half-frozen bird”, she wants to fly and feel the passion she had during the moments where imagery of fire was used. Yet, she is also tempted by the thought of death. As Whiteman states, Jane is “separated from the one she loves, and suffering mental anguish, Jane desires a release in death” (Whiteman 1954, p. 12). Nonetheless, it is her resilience and hope that keeps her going.

Reader, it's Jane Eyre - Crash Course Literature 207

Ice and cold are also physically shown through with barren landscapes or seascapes to symbolize emotional isolation and death. She compares herself being in the extreme climate of the birds' homes in the Arctic, "that reservoir of frost and snow," and the "death-white realms," (Bronte 1847, p. 9).

The description of the “death-white realms” corresponds with Frankenstein’s use of ice and cold imagery. For example, Frankenstein’s chase of his creation was taken in the Arctic, where he commits suicide (Shelly 1818, p. 335-345). It is in the Arctic where he recounts his story with tones of despair and regret, where his scientific endeavours have left him; in a cold, isolated landscape.

The icy landscape symbolises the emotional isolation Frankenstein faces, since his creation has caused the loss of his relationships, his passions, and drive for scientific advancement. Like the imagery of fire in Frankenstein, the ice also symbolises death, loss, and isolation.

The symbolism of ice in the arctic then symbolises the melancholy his actions have taken him. However, unlike Jane Eyre, physical death is present since Frankenstein commits suicide.


Therefore, Jane Eyre utilizes fire and ice with a balance of positive and negative connotations. While ice is used to signify isolation, it gives room for circumstances to get better. The imagery of a “half-frozen bird” shows the reader while Eyre is feeling hopeless, she has not given up (Bronte 1847, p. 666). This showcases the resilience in her characterisation.

This is also shown through the way imagery of fire is implemented as warnings of danger. Despite the danger, Eyre is able to adapt and survive in her circumstances. In contrast, Frankenstein and the Creature lack this ability. In Frankenstein, the fire and ice foreshadow a deterministic fate of torment for the characters. The characters lack the ability to change their tragic fate.

This is because, instead of having the resilient characteristic Eyre has, Frankenstein has a defeatist attitude that prevents him from adapting to his choices.

Penny Dreadful's Depiction of Frankenstein's Monster



Bronte, Charlotte 1847, Jane Eyre, Smith, Elder & Co., England. Viewed 13 November 2017, from Planet PDF.

Henrietta, Whiteman 1954, ‘A study of Charlotte Bronte's use of bird imagery in Jane Eyre,’ PhD thesis, Southwestern State College, Weatherford.

Shelley, Mary 1818, Frankenstein Or the Modern Prometheus, Oxford University Press, New York. Viewed 18 October 2017, from Planet PDF.

Shelley, Percy 1904, Prometheus Unbound: A lyrical drama, Essex House Press, London.

© 2018 Simran Singh


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)