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Discuss the Role of Religion in Jane Eyre

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Discuss the Role and Function of Religion in Jane Eyre Religion undeniably plays a critical role and function in the novel Jane Eyre. Religion and the characters it presents are used by Bront� throughout the piece to raise poignant questions regarding moral boundaries, the exact nature of religion as well as the guidelines we importance of such a moral code as to guide us to independence and eventual self-fulfillment. In this dissertation, I will evaluate the role and function of religion in Jane Eyre as a whole and develop some of the ideas it helps to present in the process. Before we proceed, it is important that a clear distinction be made between the "role" and "function" of religion in this novel. For purposes of this essay, the "role" of this device may refer to the effect of Religion on the novel's readership; "function" may be defined as the effect intended by Bront� in the inclusion of this critical theme. In Jane Eyre, we are presented with three different religious viewpoints through three distinct religious role models: Mr. Brocklehurst, Helen Burns and St John Rivers. The inclusion of these three characters may be viewed as Bront�'s means of presenting the flaws she sees in other people's assessment of what religion is, followed by a conclusion that presents what religion means to Jane and implicitly to Bront� herself. ...read more.


His is a Chrisitanity of ambition, glory and extreme self-importance. He urges Jane to sacrifice her emotional deeds for the filfillment of her moral duty, offering her a way of life that would require her to be disloyal to her own self. Through her rejection of his marriage proposal, Jane shows she does not believe God wishes her to sacrifice her happiness on Earth for the sake of religious fulfillment. Bront� may be seen to use St. John in order to illustrate her belief that happiness on Earth is necessary to fulfill God's will and to bring harmony and understanding between man and God. Ultimately, Jane finds this happiness on Earth through her love of Mr. Rochester, which is an intellectual, physical and spiritual love that is implicit of the real existence of a world "beyond". Bront� also uses Jane's relationship with St. John to present a turning point where she must finally choose to submit to the "will of God" or maintain her autonomy. Arguably, because she turns away from St. John and towards a relationship where she can be held as an equal and maintain her agency to some degree, this is evidence to refute the idea that Christianity drives her moral core. ...read more.


This sentence foreshadows what will be an important theme of the rest of the book, that of female independence or rebelliousness. Jane is here resisting unfair punishment, but throughout the novel, she expresses her opinions of the state of women. Jane not only shows the reader her beliefs of female independence through her actions, but also through her actions, but also through her thoughts. Religion serves to support her in her quest for autonomy, while providing her with the moral guidelines to keep herself within the realm of acceptable female conduct. Through religious discovery, Jane ultimately finds a comfortable middle ground. Her spiritual understanding is not hateful and oppressive like Mr. Brocklehurst's, nor does it require retreat from the everyday world as Helen's and St. John's religions do. For Jane, Religion helps curb immoderate passions, and it spurs on worldly efforts and achievements. These achievements include full self-knowledge, independence and complete faith in God. It is also important to note that Bront� uses religion as a tool, but suggests that it must be balanced with a self-love and a love of others that may guide you to happiness and selflessness, as well as equality and independence. Word count: 1,544 Anja Young 31/01/11 ...read more.

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