JANE EYRE ESSAY.docx - Aubri Skinner Dr Simmons HNRS-411 7...

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Aubri SkinnerDr. SimmonsHNRS-4117 May 2018The Relationship between Feminism and Christianity in Jane EyreHaving been raised in a Christian household herself, Charlotte Brontë grew up surrounded by no shortage of religious discourse. As a preacher’s daughter, Brontë was brought up with accurate theological knowledge and a personal faith that, as she matured, she often exposed in her writing. A particular novel that reveals Brontë’s personal beliefs is her 1847 novelJane Eyre.As a novel that has had tremendous global impact for over a century, Jane Eyrehas been widely received as either a feminist novel or an ode to religion: a novel centered around Jane’s development as an independent woman, or Jane’s spiritual journey as a Christian. However, the complexity of the novel prohibits simple classification. Brontë crafted Jane, a strong-willed woman living amidst a male-dominated society, as a deeply spiritual practitioner ofChristianity, making both her gender and her faith crucial to her development as a character. It is Jane’s spirituality as a Christian that empowers her individuality as a woman. As Jane is guided by her faith-driven personal convictions, she often finds her religious beliefs prohibiting her fromsubmitting to certain male figures with inaccurate perceptions of God’s teachings. Brontë utilizesJane’s Christian faith as a means to challenge concepts of male superiority, female expectations towards compliance, and antiquated, misinterpreted theology.In making Jane’s individuality and spirituality equally crucial to her growth, working together toshape the bildungsroman, Brontë challenges both sexist and misguided religious ideals alike.
Charlotte Brontë’s iconic Jane Eyreconfronts Victorian era ideals—specifically targeting women and religion. Over the course of her life, readers witness Jane as she strikes down overtlymasculine, often misconstrued religious teachings in fact of religious truth she discerns for herself. As a matter of fact, she is so direct and so ruthless in doing so that the novel itself has often been criticized as being anti-Christian. In Vanity Fair—And Jane Eyre, published December 1848, critic Elizabeth Rigby labeled Jane Eyreas “an anti-Christian composition” written by an author with “a great coarseness of taste and a heathenish doctrine of religion” (Rigby). Brontë, however, was intentional in her depiction of Jane as a woman of judgement and sound religious doctrine. Jane Eyre is not an attack on Christianity, as Brontë was ultimately a practitioner herself. Jane reveres the Creator; she strikes down the misconstructions of his teachings. As Charlotte defends in the preface to the second edition of Jane Eyre, “To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns” (Brontë). Jane consistently finds herself facing off with theologically false doctrine, namely at the hands of men who wear their misinterpretations as a mark of righteousness rather than of blatant ignorance. These men never question themselves or their own beliefs and would not dare

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