Imagine a crowded street in a busy American city. Horns honk as crazed taxi drivers swerve to avoid hitting pedestrians. The stench of pollution and garbage fills the air. This scene, though not the most appealing, leaves a strong impression upon the mind, as well as sets a tone. Throughout the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, several contrasting places are used to create desired moods and to intertwine different stages of Jane's life. Thornfield and Ferndean, while contrasting in many ways, succeed in coming together to contribute to the story's meaning and symbolism through diction and detail.
The most obvious use of symbolic diction is in the names of two of the manors that Jane inhabits. Thornfield and Ferndean are almost complete opposites in their literal meanings as well as in their metaphoric meanings. The word "thorn- used in "Thornfield,"" creates many negative assumptions about the place; one seldom comes across a thorn that brings pleasure. Nevertheless, Thornfield, being a change of pace, was appealing to Jane at first. On her arrival at the mansion, she states that she was "roused by the change of scene, the new field offered to hope - (109) but in the end, Thornfield did not turn out to be Jane's sanctuary. In this aspect, Thornfield is much like a thorn. Jane admires the beautiful rose. It intrigues her and traps her in its beauty as she reaches out to touch it. In the next moment, however, she draws back, realizing that the thorns have pricked her finger.
On the other hand, Ferndean is the complete opposite of Thornfield. A fern often symbolizes a new beginning. Life at Ferndean is just that. The rebirth of Rochester and Jane's love and the start of a new life seem very promising. She is offered a new chance, a blank slate to start over again. "Ferndean then remained uninhabited and unfurnished- (497). As shown in the quote, Ferndean is much like an artist's blank easel.