A Mirror to God’s Word Religion is a very trivial concept to the majority of the population in modern society. The average citizen has little to no knowledge of the Bible and its contents. Only the very devout figures are familiar with the sacred writings. In the Victorian era, however, the Christian Holy book had a much greater importance.
Back then in Great Britain, it was very common for citizens to know much about, and identify with The Holy Bible. “ Victorian England was a deeply religious country. A great number of people were habitual church-goers, at least once and probably twice, every Sunday” (Roth). Even children and socially low inhabitants of the time knew this religious book well. Charlotte Bronte, having been born and raised in this religious time period, was also familiar with the Bible.
The author uses her knowledge of this blessed manuscript to enhance her writings. By using well-known Christian-based tales, Bronte was able to make the book easier for her audience to identify with, as well as add to its overall development and detail. Bronte utilized several biblical references to develop characters in the novel Jane Eyre such as “ Rebekah at the Well,” “ The Twelve Apostles,” and “ Noah’s Ark. The story “ Rebekah at the Well,” from Genesis, comes into play in an important instance in Bronte’s classic Jane Eyre. In the novel, this occasion is the start of Jane and Rochester’s burning love. This passion between the two lovers mirrors God’s Word in the way that both “ Rebekah at the Well,” and the steamy story of Jane and Rochester are both beginnings; the start of a long collection of religious stories and the start of love.
When Rochester is playing charades with Blanche Ingram, there are two parts to Rochester and Blanche’s charade. In the first part, Rochester and Blanche act out a wedding; “ Then appeared the magnificent figure of Miss Ingram, clad in white, a long veil on her head, and a wreath of roses round her brow; by her side walked Mr. Rochester, and together they drew near the table…” (Bronte 180). This imitation leads Jane to believe that Rochester truly is going to wed Blanche.
In the second “ scene,” Rochester is dressed up as Eliezar from “ Rebekah at the Well,” while his soon-to-be wife takes the role of Rebekah. Eliezar exclaimed “ I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has greatly blessed my master” (Genesis 24: 34-35). This statement reveals that Eliezar does not marry Rebekah, because he is only a servant, and servants are not allowed to marry someone of high class, such as Rebekah.
Eliezar symbolizes how Jane is only a “ mistress” to Rochester, as Eliezar is to Rebekah. On top of “ Rebekah at the Well,” the concept of the Twelve Apostles play an important role in doing crucial foreshadowing and further developing a particular character in the novel. The Twelve Apostles were explained to be placed in panels lined up on a tapestry. Not all of these devout figures are described, but the most disloyal of them all, Judas, was described in a highly significant and symbolic way. This one in particular was strategically placed in the center of the tapestry, and was accented by certain characteristics to make his specific panel stand out from all of the rest: “ The devilish face of Judas, that grew out of the panel, and seemed gathering life and threatening a revelation of the arch-traitor–of Satan himself–in his subordinate’s form” (Bronte 207).
As described here, Judas is an evil man, placed closely to Satan. Judas is described as being evil, because he is a traitor, more specifically, the traitor of Jesus Christ. This filthy man betrayed Jesus out of want for something as insignificant as money: “ Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them. Who hearing it were glad; and they promised him they would give him money” (Mark 14: 10). The panel containing Judas was illustrated to be right behind Mr. Mason’s head.
This placement of the panel suggests that Mason has betrayed someone, as Judas had done. In the novel, the Judas-like Mason, betrays Rochester by helping to trick his brother-in-law into marrying his psychotic sister. He and his family, including him, knew that Bertha would one day become insane. Having knowledge of this family mental-disease, they had to marry the nearly psychotic women early on, in order to ensure a gain of family money, before her symptoms became evident. Mason and his family chose Rochester as the victim for Bertha’s marriage-trap. In a way, he too betrayed for wealth, but instead of personal wealth, his sin was for family wealth.
The third of the three significant biblical stories referenced to in Bronte’s Jane Eyre, is “ Noah’s Ark. ” This widely known tale of the Bible becomes apparent when a ‘ flood’ happens at Thronfield. When the mentally-insane Bertha attempts to set Rochester on fire, Jane comes to the rescue by flooding him with buckets of water. Rochester reacts to all of the water by asking, “ Is there a flood? ” (Bronte 154). This overflow of water relates to “ Noah’s Ark” in how the flood symbolizes the cleansing and ridding of the evil in Rochester. In the actual biblical story, God floods earth in attempt to rid it of the evil people inhabiting it.
In the tale he says to Noah, “ I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6: 13). Jane and God accomplish this same task in two different situations. By flooding earth, God rids the planet of evil. By flooding Rochester, Jane metaphorically cleanses him of his past and evil. She saves him both physically and spiritually (Brasseur).
Physically he is saved from death, or severe burns, and spiritually, he is saved from his past mistakes and sins. Several biblical allusions, consisting of “ Rebekah at the Well,” “ The Twelve Apostles,” and “ Noah’s Ark,” are used in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre to further develop characters in the novel. The similar theme between these stories and the novel is that labels given to people are not always correct. In “ Rebekah at the Well,” Eliezar is a servant, as Jane is, but both of them are very good choices for marriage. Unfortunately servants are thought to be too low in social class to make good spouses.
Rochester is evil at first; and is stereotyped as the evil part in the metaphorical reference to “ Noah and the Ark. However, after he is cleansed by “ the flood,” his label is changed, in both Jane and the audience’s point of view. Same goes for Mason on the apostle’s side of the spectrum. Mason seems only slightly suspicious in his first introduction to the classic but turns out to be a terrible sinner.
All in all, Bronte uses her well versed persona and knowledge of the Bible to develop her novel as a whole. Lessons, character descriptions, developments, and similar themes between Jane Eyre and the Holy Bible are continuously evident. Bronte is a master at tying in religious excerpts into her story writing, making it truly a mirror of God’s Word. Works Cited Brasseur, Courtney.
“ Biblical Passages in Jane Eyre. ” Charlotte’s Web. 2005. University of Michigan-Dearborn. 5 Feb. 2008 ; http://www.
umd. umich. edu/;. Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Ann Arbor: Borders Classics, 2006.
154-207. The Holy Bible. New York: The World Company, 1962. Roth, Christine. “ Victorian England: An Introduction. ” Victorian England.
2006. University of Wisconsin. 11 Feb. 2008 ; http://www. english. uwosh.
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