Religious Beliefs in Jane Eyre

ThroughJane Eyre,Charlotte Bronte expresses legion issues of the Victorian Era. Class and gender inequality, race biass, colonialism, and spiritual beliefs are all but few of the jobs addressed. Throughout the novel, Jane struggles with her quandary, viz. the pick between moral responsibility and earthly pleasances, and the duty to her spirit and attending to her organic structure. Despite Jane’s simple life, Bronte frequently presents Jane assorted characters that offer contrasting spiritual beliefs, and in so making, Bronte shows her disapproval of the Evangelical Movement.

Possibly no character in the novel other than Mr. Brocklehurst best demonstrates the danger and sanctimoniousness of this nineteenth-century church motion. Superficially, he is a devoted Christian who adopts the rhetoric of Evangelicalism by prophesying puritanical morality to his pupils.

A brief reference on those occasions would non be mistimed, wherein a wise teacher would take the chance of mentioning to the agonies of the crude Christians ; to the tortures of sufferer ; to the exhortations of our blest Lord himself, naming upon His adherents to take up their cross and follow Him ; to His warnings that adult male shall non populate by bread entirely, but by every word that proceedeth out of the oral cavity of God ; to his Godhead solaces, ‘if ye suffers hunger or thirst for my interest, happy are ye.’ Oh, dame, when you put bread and cheese, alternatively of burned porridge, into these children’s oral cavities, you may so feed their vile organic structures, but you little think how you starve their immortal psyches! ” ( 63 ; ch.7 )

Clearly, he is declaiming an Evangelical idea—the corruptness of the human organic structure and the demand of Christ to salvage them—that is popular during this clip. Mr. Brocklehurst takes this thought to the extreme by stressing the enrichment of the psyche by hungering the organic structure. This way of making redemption may be acceptable at the clip. However, his method of subjecting his pupil to follow such rules is obviously unbearable and un-Christian-like. The film editing of Julia Severn’s of course curly hair and the hapless nutrition he provides for Lowood’s pupils are illustration of such utmost cruel methods. He furthers contradicts his beliefs by back uping his ain luxuriously affluent household at the disbursal of the Lowood pupils. By exposing Mr. Brocklehurst hypocrisy, Bronte shows her concerns for the new motion.

Not merely does Bronte reprobate Brocklehurst’s spiritual philosophy, but she besides undermines Helen Burn’s absolute and renunciant beliefs. The Christ-like Helen adopts a longanimous manner of Christianity that is excessively inactive for the froward Jane to grok and to accept. When Helen comforts Jane,

Hush, Jane! You think excessively much of the love of human existences ; you are excessively unprompted, excessively fierce: the autonomous manus that created your frame, and set life into it, has provided you with other resources than your lame ego, or than animals lame as you. Besides this Earth, and besides the race of work forces, there is an unseeable universe and a land of liquors ; that universe is circular us, for it is everyplace ; and those liquors watch us, for they are commissioned to guard us ; and if we were deceasing in hurting and shame, if scorn smote us on all sides and hatred crushed us, angels see our anguishs, recognize our artlessness. . . Why, so, should we of all time sink overwhelmed with hurt, when life is shortly over, and decease is so certain an entryway to happiness — to glorification? ” ( 70 ; ch.8 )

Jane feels an “inexpressible sadness” from those words. Helen consoles Jane by offering the thought that decease is the ultimate “entrance to happiness.” However, Jane is more concern about the life on Earth instead than the life after. She can non accept Helen’s submissive attitudes toward unfairness and the belief that justness will be found in God’s ultimate judgment—reward the good and penalize the immorality. Jane is overwhelmed by Helen’s blind religion ; she thirsts for love and felicity in this universe instead than the ageless life that Helen seeks. Therefore, at Helen’s deathbed, Jane continuously inquiries about Helen’s corruption and her deep affinity with God.

“By deceasing immature, I shall get away great agonies. I had non qualities or endowments to do my manner really good in the universe: I should hold been continually at fault.”

“But where are you traveling to, Helen? Can you see? Make you cognize? ”

“I believe ; I have faith: I am traveling to God.”

“Where is God? What is God? ”

“My Maker and yours, who will ne’er destruct what he created. I rely implicitly on his power, and confide entirely in his goodness: I count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall reconstruct me to him, reveal him to me.”

“You are certain, so Helen, that there is such a topographic point as Eden ; and that our psyches can acquire to it when dice? ” ( 83 ; ch.9 )

Even with Helen’s reassurance that there is truly heaven, Jane still inquiries her ego with the ideas: “Where is that part? Does it be? ” ( 83 ; ch.9 ) These inquiries may non impact Helen’s religion at any rate, but her decease finally make Bronte’s point clear—one can non trust on religion for endurance but can depend on it for counsel.

Although St. John Rivers portions many Christian beliefs with Helen Burns, he presents another spectrum of the spiritual motion that Bronte dissuades. It is clear that St. John is a spiritual Zealot who devotes “a big part of his time…visiting the sick and hapless among the scattered population of his parish.” ( 357 ; ch.30 ) However, his devotedness to God does non do him a saint.

“Zealous in his ministerial labor, blameless in his life and wonts, he yet did non look to bask that mental repose, that inward content, which should be the wages of every sincere Christian and practical philanthropist.” ( 357 ; ch.30 )

Bronte makes this point clear when Jane observes at one of his discourses.

“Throughout there was a unusual resentment ; an absence of consolatory gradualness ; austere allusions…I was certain St. John Rivers—pure-lived, painstaking, avid as he was—had non yet found that peace of God which passeth all apprehension: he had no more found it, I thought, than had I…” ( 358 ; ch.30 )

Bronte non merely inquiries St. John’s saintliness but besides doubts his devotedness to Christianity. As a reverend, he should bask his occupation and love his enemies, instead he “did non look to enjoy” his plants and ignores Jane, avoids her, and treats her differently after she rejected his proposal. He like Mr. Brocklehurst preaches to function but does non ever pattern this himself. He believes the words that he speaks are those of Go talking through him:

“Do you think God will be satisfied with half an offering? Will he accept a maimed forfeit? It is the cause of God I advocate: it is under His criterion I enlist you. I cannon accept on His behalf a divided commitment: it must be entire.” ( 413 ; ch.34 )

He believes that he knows what God thinks and wants others to make. The haughtiness nature of his, together with his cold, cold-eyed attitude toward functioning God deviates St. John from a true Christian. Unlike Helen Burns, he is a faulty person. By uncovering St. John’s defects, Bronte shows that making God’s work on Earth does non intend complete Christian piousness.

Jane finally finds a comfy spiritual middle-ground that is non oppressive like Mr. Brocklehurst’s, that is non submissive like Helen Burn’s, and that is non cold-eyed like St. John’s. For Jane or instead for Bronte, faith non merely helps them find ageless felicity in Eden, but besides assist them happen the indispensable demands of human life—love.