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A Critical Analysis On Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

1060 words - 4 pages

Jane Eyre is a novel that presents many views on religion through its various characters. Charlotte Bronte successfully employs several characters throughout the novel, who each have a distinct view on religion, specifically Christianity. These characters include Mr. Brocklehurst, Eliza Reed, Helen Burns, St. John Rivers, Jane, and Mr. Rochester. Some of these characters practice the strictness aspect of Christianity, while others believe in duty and works, and the remaining few are actual true Christians. There are many people in this world who take verses from the Bible out of context, and abide by strict rules, that they interpret as the right thing to do. A prime example of this kind of person is Mr. Brocklehurst in Jane Eyre. He wishes his girls to be "the children of grace", and wants their appearance as plain and simple as can be. On page 76, he says, "I have a master to serve whose kingdom is not of this world: my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh; to teach them to clothe themselves with shame-facedness and sobriety," However, just as he was lecturing the girls about this, his own daughters walked in, in velvet and silk, and wearing furs. This shows that he was a hypocrite, as he was ordering his students to dress plainly, in accordance with what he thought God said, while his own daughters came in, dressed fashionably, with an appearance that was entirely opposite to what he was preaching. Somewhat related to the strictness issue, is the issue of duty and works. This characteristic is displayed by St. John Rivers, as he is willing to sacrifice others as well as himself. For example, he gave up the woman he loved, Rosamond Oliver, because he thought she would not make a good missionary's wife. This is shown on page 408, when St. John refused to go with Rosamond: "Not to-night, Miss Rosamond, not to-night", and it went on to say, "Mr. St John spoke almost like an automaton: himself only knew the effort it cost him thus to refuse." To St John, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice are his main priorities, and does not really feel any compassion. Even though he didn't love at all, he wanted to enter the covenant of marriage with Jane, simply because he thought that she would make a good missionary's wife. He was even willing to sacrifice Jane's life, as he insisted on her coming with him to India, not taking into consideration that she would have to leave everything behind just to follow his dreams. This is all shown on page 448 when he says, "Jane, come with me to India: come as my helpmeet and fellow-labourer." After much pleading, he then says to her, "You are formed for labour, not for love. A missionary's wife you must-shall be." Another character that was consumed with devotion to duty and works was Jane's cousin, Eliza Reed. As an adult, she had become an Anglo-Catholic, attending church three times on Sundays, and often spent much time studying a...

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