Jane Eyre Essay

Submitted By dillebar2234
Words: 1473
Pages: 6

In the preface, Charlotte Bronte states, "Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion" (preface v). Bronte stresses the fact that many people tend to misinterpret religion and mistake it for self- righteousness. Bronte also stresses that even if the majority is taking part in something that it does not make it right or moral. Bronte addresses the theme of religion throughout the novel Jane Eyre using many characters as symbols. In Jane Eyre, Bronte supports the theme that routine actions are not always moral through the conventional personalities of Mrs. Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst, and St. John Rivers. The novel begins in Gateshead where Jane must avoid her aunt and cousins because she does not know how to speak politely to them and please them. Mrs. Reed possesses a higher standing in society and due to Jane's lower class standing, Mrs. Reed treats Jane as an outcast. As Bessie and Miss Abbot drag Jane to the "red room", she is told by Miss Abbot: "No; you are less than a servant for you do nothing for your keep"(14). She must stay in the red room after she retaliates to the attack John Reed makes upon her, her obnoxious cousin. John tells Jane "mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not live here with gentlemen's children like us and eat the same meals that we do, and wear clothes at our mama's expense"(12). She receives no love or approval from her family. The only form of love that she does have is the doll she clings to at night when she sleeps. Mrs. Reed is a conventional woman who believes that her class standing sets her to be superior, and therefore better than a member of her own family. As a result of
Jane's tantrums, quick temper, and lack of self-control, society classifies her as an immoral person. She speaks up for herself when she knows she is not supposed to, and her family believes that she acts more like a "rebel" than a young woman. Her spontaneous and violent actions go against conventionality and she must suffer for being so free-spirited. Miss Abbot believes: "God will punish her: He might strike her in the midst of her tantrums"; (15). Jane's tantrums are not acceptable, so during her tantrums, she is especially vulnerable to God's punishment. Miss Abbot constantly reminds Jane that she is wicked, she needs to repent, and she is especially dependent on prayer. The Reed children, in contrast, are treated completely opposite. Although John Reed is cruel and vicious to Jane, he receives no type of warning that God will punish him. Bronte shows the wrongful actions that Jane is faced with that wrongfully display the ideas of morality and religion.
Jane’s next stage of her life takes place at Lowood Institution where she is faced with people mistaking self-righteousness for religion.
Janes arrives at Lowood and observes the plaque on the front of the institution stating, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (pg. 51). Jane finds this contradicting to what she perceives as Christian like behavior. Bronte begins to show how people are more worried about their image rather than their morality and are willing to compromise one for the other. The plaque on the front of the school also demonstrates the principle that self-righteousness is not religious. Although, the school encourages religious acts they care about the recognition instead of the good deeds they complete. If no one witnesses these actions they are considered not important or irrelevant. Jane also observes, “ behavior of the students. They are "all with plain locks combed from their faces, not a curl visible; in brown dresses, made high, and surrounded by a narrow tucker about the throat"(49). The day is long and all students must wake up at dawn and read the Bible for hours at a time. Their lives consist of little to no luxury but instead the same monotonous routines. One day, Miss