The Significance Of Jane Eyre

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Religion is one of the most polarizing subjects to talk about in literature, if not of all time. When these themes are brought up in books and stories, religion tends to be a focal point in the story. In some instances, the theme of religion finds its way into the story due to social or political conflict and, in others, it just fits in with the setting. Charlotte Bronson uses religion in the novel Jane Eyre to talk about gender roles and social constructs in society.

Charlotte Bronte’s use of religious imagery and symbolism is primarily used to balance the moral upsides and lustful desires throughout the novel to give conflict during a specific time period to the protagonist, Jane Eyre. This theme is represented in its character St. John, who both make contributions to the decisions that end the novel. St. John has religion written into his character and that characteristic affects his relationship with Jane and makes her question her morals. When we first meet he comes off as a perfect figure in Jane’s eyes, he comes off as a contrast to Rochester with his looks and intellectual superiority. She soon realizes that his looks are a subversion of his actual personality which is cold and heartless. An example of religion playing a role in Jane Eyre through the character St. John is the confrontation between him and Jane refuses to marry him and how he “wars” against it the same way he considers the missionary work a form of “warfare”. He asks her to marry him on a mission to India. The purpose for him doing this would be that he wants a wife that’s committed and her character is something to be admired as a missionary’s wife. The reason she refuses is that she knows John doesn’t love her. This interaction is noteworthy not only because of his position of power in the context of the situation but also because of what John is representing in the story. Jane is neglecting the chance of contributing something to society so that she can find someone that will support her emotionally (i.e. Mr. Rochester).

Bronte also uses Rochester to affect Jane and the feelings and thoughts she emits that lead to the final events of the story through the social class. In chapter 18, Jane talks about Mr. Rochester’s and Miss Ingram’s potential marriage, “I have not yet said anything condemnatory of Mr. Rochester’s project of marrying for interest and connections. It surprised me when I first discovered that such was his intention; I had thought him a man unlikely to be influenced by motives so commonplace in his choice of a wife; but the longer I considered the position, education, . . . Of the parties, the less I felt justified in judging and blaming either him or Miss Ingram, for acting in conformity to ideas and principles instilled into them, doubtless, from their childhood. All their class held these principles; I supposed, then, they had reasons for holding them such as I could not fathom.” (Bronte 221). Being that Jane has feelings for Mr. Rochester, she has to come to terms with this potential marriage. Not only does she love Rochester, but she also doesn’t believe that Ingram can get Rochester to conform to their social constructs. Jane’s thoughts and emotions featured the very strict social conformity of Victorian England at the time and how engraved it was in society at the time.

In short, St. John represents the conservative view that women are doing what they’re told, so when Jane refuses to marry Jane for the reason that she states it leaves John with a far more progressive viewpoint which is unheard of her to do. The announcement of Rochester’s engagement was a moment in time for Jane to explore how two people of different social classes would not mesh together well. The struggle of Jane being able to express herself can only be understood with several topics that have different stigmas regarding what people should believe and adhere to, that being a religion, gender roles, and social class.     


Read more