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Religious Foreshadowing In Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte

1079 words - 4 pages

Religious Foreshadowing in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Brontë uses several different symbols to foretell events that occur in Jane Eyre. For example, Brontë uses birds to
represent freedom, for which Jane longs and finally finds by the end of the novel. Fire is another symbol used by Brontë: When
Bertha sets Rochester's bed on fire, "The image of fire might symbolize signifying first sinfulness, then rebirth" (Vaughon). The
symbolism most fascinating, however, is the way in which Brontë uses religion throughout the novel. Indeed, Jane's world
revolves around religion, and it foreshadows her life.

Charlotte Brontë's own religious background is meaningful to the text. She was raised in a religious home where daily scripture
reading and devotions were an essential part of Brontë's existence. Charlotte's father, Patrick Brontë, was a clergyman for the
Church of England; therefore, Charlotte could not escape the influence of a religious upbringing. Two important books
contribute to the religious foreshadowing in Jane Eyre: The Book of Common Prayer and the Bible.

The importance of The Book of Common Prayer is in the calendar dates given in Jane Eyre. January 15th is the first
important day in Jane's life because it is the day Jane meets the Reverend Brocklehurst. It is here we learn that Jane, at ten
years of age, has considerable knowledge of the Bible already. Jane states that she likes Revelation and several books from
the Old Testament, but she does not like the Psalms. The morning and evening lessons given from The Book of Common
Prayer, respectively, are Genesis XXI, verse 33 to Genesis XXII verse 20, and Genesis XXII (Bolt 3). The scripture tells
about Abraham staying in the land of the Philistines for a period of time. The scripture also tells about the testing of Abraham's
faith in God: "Some time later God tested Abraham ..." (Gen. 22). The foreshadowing is clearly seen when Jane travels to
Lowood Institution, where Jane lives for a period of time. The land of the Philistines is a hostile environment for Abraham,
much like Lowood Institution is a hostile environment for Jane. The living conditions that Jane has to endure during her early
years at Lowood are deplorable. The cheap quality of the clothes, the small quantity of food served, and the physical and
emotional abuse Jane receives would be enough to cause anyone to lose his or her faith in God. Mr. Brocklehurst will test
Jane's faith in God when he has Jane stand on a stool in the middle of the schoolroom, and proclaims: "Teachers, you must
watch her: keep your eyes on her movements, weigh well her words, scrutinise her actions, punish her body to save her soul:
if, indeed such salvation be possible, the girl, this child, the native of a Christian land, worse than many a little heathen who says
its prayers to Brahma and kneels before Juggernaut--this girl is--a lair!" (Brontë 58). Abraham did not lose his faith in God,
nor did Jane lose...

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