There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question. I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.
– Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre, Chapter 1. The novel’s opening paragraph sets the tone wonderfully and gives us our first glimpse into the characters of Jane and the Reed family. The child Jane’s loneliness and isolation while living at Gateshead are starkly spelled out. Her position of inferiority among her cousins is immediately evident. The poor weather and leafless shrubs combine to create a melancholic mood, foreshadowing a cold and dreary future for Jane. Throughout the novel Bronte uses nature as a sympathetic background to reflect Jane’s situation and mood.