Jane Eyre: The Balance between Belonging and Freedom
In the whole novel, Jane strives to come into a balance between belonging and freedom. She dislikes the Mr Brocklehurst’s hypocrisy whereby he displays a lot of dishonesty in St. John River’s church. This goes against his devotion to Christian duty. All over her childhood she looked up to Helen Burns, who forgave all who had wronged her and even in some instances turned the other cheek. This enabled her to make peace with the Reed cousins and also Aunt Reed. She does not affiliate herself with any modern day Christian denomination but she is very cautious in breaking any traditional moral laws. For this reason, although she was fondly in love with Rochester she does not agree to be married by him until the time his wife unfortunately passes away and therefore becomes a widower. Although religion is a big part of her life she does not let this be a hindrance of her enjoying her life and living it to the fullest.
Throughout the novel the relationship between belonging and freedom is vividly portrayed. She brings out a notion of belonging and freedom through the religious world whereby the leaders of religious groups and churches are taking advantage of the church to enrich them and fulfill their selfish desires. She believes that by the fact that one is self righteous does not mean that they are religious. She also believed that by the fact that someone is conventional does not make him morally upright. All through the novel Jane rebukes the behavior of Mr. Brocklehurst, who supervises Lowood Institution. She believes him to be dishonest and hypocritical whereby he hides his true self behind the church. He is seen to promote and call for charity from the people but at the same time he justifies carrying out punishment to wrong doers with the same religion.
When Jane experiences some trouble with Rochester we see her making an innovation to God to keep him safe. A certain house help from Rivers shuns Jane away as she begs and Jane responds by telling her that if she claimed to be a Christian who obeys the law of God she ought not to consider poverty a crime. St. John Rivers is a clergyman who is a religious figure in the community. Jane sees him as an honest and good person although her experience with him later prompts Jane to see him as being cold and controversial. St. John fails to perceive Jane as a complete person, but only perceives her as a person who only assists him in his religious activities or as a servant of the church.
Mr. Rochester is portrayed as being an unchristian man. This is due to the fact that he falls in love with Jane and therefore courts her. He then tries to convince her to enter into a bigamous marriage with him. Jane who is very keen not to break any traditional or religious laws and ethics refuses to go through with the marriage. Mr. Rochester in desperation tries to convince Jane to become his mistress. Mr. Rochester is also seen to have had previous mistresses which he admits to Jane. Nevertheless, at the end of the novel Mr. Rochester with the help of Jane reforms. He goes back to church, repents all his sins and he is also seen to give God credit for finally bringing together with Jane and therefore thanks Him for it. He also prays to God to provide him with the will and power to live a more honest life with Jane.
Brontë, Charlotte. “ Jane Eyre.” London. Smith, Elder & Co. 1847