Type: Proposal Essays
Sample donated: Maggie Johnson
Last updated: September 26, 2019
From her time at Lowood to her experiences at Thornfield and Moor House, Jane is frequently exposed to the religious views of others as she struggles to develop her own ideas on religion. Mr. Brocklehurst, Helen and St. John, in particular, shed light on their personal approach.
Additionally, Jane stumbles upon events that test her faith and religious consciousness, and she is forced to make difficult decisions between earthly pleasure and moral duty.Mr. Brocklehurst believes in an oppressive form of religion, as he punishes his students for un-Christian reasons. For example, he berates a girl for her naturally curly hair and orders it to be cut off immediately. He scolds, “Why, in defiance of every precept and principle of this house, does she conform to the world so openly – here in an evangelical, charitable establishment – as to wear her hair one mass of curls?” (Brontë 64). He uses the Bible to justify his harsh rules for the girls at Lowood, but is hypocritical, as he himself does not act with goodness nor live the way that he teaches.
For example, Brocklehurst lives in a fancy residence away from Lowood while the girls are underfed, overworked, and maltreated. His wife and relative flaunt not only expensive clothing and jewelry but also curly hair, the very feature the girls are forced to get rid of. Brocklehurst is a religious hypocrite and does not use religion to lead a good life; he instead uses it to assert dominance and feel like a god himself.Helen holds a more forgiving approach to Christianity, believing that people should love their enemies and bless those that curse them. She accepts all of the punishments given to her with no complaints, as she believes that “it is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but oneself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with one” (55).
For example, she withstands Miss Scatcherd’s flogging when she could not clean her nails and tells Jane that a person should be able to bear his or her fate (55). However, she does not speak up for her beliefs. Even though the water is frozen, which makes it impossible for her to clean her nails, Helen does not defend herself and succumbs to punishment instead. Contrary to Mr. Brocklehurst, Helen acts as a martyr and is a devout Christian with unwavering faith.St.
John believes in the ambitious nature of Christianity and is depicted as a religious zealot who devotes “a large proportion of his time…visiting the sick and poor among the scattered population of his parish” (380). However, during one of his sermons, Jane notices that St. John does not seem to enjoy helping the poor and doing good. She observes that “throughout there is a strange bitterness; an absence of consolatory gentleness” (381) and that he does not seem to feel inner joy from preaching God’s Word or helping others. Although he is a clergyman, St. John possesses a superficial attitude to religion and is dispassionate about the work he does in serving God. In the end, Jane rejects all three ideas of Christianity. She does not believe in the cruel and hypocritical religious notion of Brocklehurst.
Unlike Helen, she speaks up for her beliefs, such as the time she is dragged into the red-room by the Reed family, and believes that “loving your enemy” is a ridiculous doctrine. Finally, she does not have a fake passion toward religion like St. John. Instead, Jane discovers her own standing on religion while still believing in morality and in God. For example, she puts her trust in God while she is wandering and starving, certain that “neither earth should perish, nor one of the souls it treasured” because of God’s “efficiency to save what He had made” (350-351). When her wedding with Rochester is interrupted, she prays to God for comfort.
Rather than following a single, existing belief of Christianity that is held by those around her, Jane finds herself at a comfortable position where religion serves to deliver happiness to her here on Earth. The journey in discovering her own approach to religion does not come easy, however. Thrown at her are several hurdles which test her faith in God and force her to choose between earthly values and her religious consciousness. For example, when Mr.
Rochester asks Jane to be his wife, she has to decide whether she should follow her inner emotions and accept the proposal or follow her moral values and reject a married man. Although she loves Rochester and deeply wishes to be with him, she knows that it would be against God’s will to live with a man still tied to his wife through church and state. Jane learns to resist the temptation of immorality and hold fast to the values in which she believes. In this way, religion also serves as a way of escaping an immoral life.
The Bible contains several characters who also undergo events that test their faith in God. Job, for example, is the richest man among all of the people of the East. He has seven sons and three daughters, seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred oxen, and the largest number of servants. More importantly, he is blameless and righteous, fearing God and shunning evil.
However, one day, Satan appears before God in heaven. When God boasts about how good Job is, Satan argues that it is only because Job has been blessed profusely. He then challenges God, “Stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (AGES 1174). In order to test Job’s faith, God allows Satan to torture him as long as he spares his life. However, even when all of his children, servants and livestock are wiped out by invaders or natural catastrophes, Job remains loyal to God and blesses Him in his prayers.
Similarly, Daniel’s loyalty to God is tested when King Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon, invades Jerusalem and forces the Israelites to bow down to a statue. Since God forbids them to bow down to any other idol, Daniel and his friends – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – refuse to do so, even when they are aware of the punishment: being thrown into the fiery furnace. They believe in God regardless and argue to the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (1927). Despite the harshness of the punishment, Daniel and his friends hold fast to their faith and remain loyal to God.Like Job and Daniel, Jane overcomes obstacles that tempt her to follow the earthly route. She remains steadfast to her beliefs and chooses God over her emotional wants.
Although she is not a completely devout Christian, Jane still uses religion to stay away from immorality and be happy in life.