Religious Foreshadowing In Jane Eyre Essay Research

Religious Foreshadowing In Jane Eyre Essay, Research Paper

Charlotte Bront? uses several different symbols to foretell events that occur in Jane Eyre. For example, Bront? uses birds to

represent freedom, for which Jane longs and finally finds by the end of the novel. Fire is another symbol used by Bront?: 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 Bront? uses religion throughout the novel. Indeed, Jane’s world

revolves around religion, and it foreshadows her life.

Charlotte Bront?’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 Bront?’s existence. Charlotte’s father, Patrick Bront?, 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!” (Bront? 58). Abraham did not lose his faith in God,

nor did Jane lose her faith in God: “I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer …” (Bront? 74).

Bront? also uses the scripture to foreshadow another event that occured while Jane was away at Lowood Institution. Mrs.

Reed received a letter from Jane’s Uncle John stating that he wished to make Jane his heir. Mrs. Reed tells him that Jane is

dead, thus causing Jane to be…

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