Jane Eyre

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Themes and Colors
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
Social Class and Social Rules Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Feeling vs. Judgment Theme Icon
The Spiritual and the Supernatural Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Jane Eyre, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Religion Theme Icon

Religion and spirituality are key factors in how characters develop in the novel. Jane matures partly because she learns to follow Christian lessons and resist temptation. Helen Burns introduces Jane to the New Testament, which becomes a moral guidepost for Jane throughout her life. As Jane develops her relationship with God, Mr. Rochester must also reform his pride, learn to pray, and become humble. Brontë depicts different forms of religion: Helen trusts in salvation; Eliza Reed becomes a French Catholic nun; and St. John preaches a gloomy Calvinist faith. The novel attempts to steer a middle course. In Jane, Brontë sketches a virtuous faith that does not consume her individual personality. Jane is self-respecting and religious, but also exercises her freedom to love and feel.

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Religion Quotes in Jane Eyre

Below you will find the important quotes in Jane Eyre related to the theme of Religion.
Chapter 8 Quotes
The refreshing meal, the brilliant fire, the presence and kindness of her beloved instructress, or, perhaps, more than all these, something in her own unique mind, had roused her powers within her … [Helen] suddenly acquired a beauty more singular than that of Miss Temple's—a beauty neither of fine color nor long eyelash, nor pencilled brow, but of meaning, of movement, of radiance.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Maria Temple, Helen Burns
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

Helen and Ms. Temple have reacted to Jane's story with grace and goodness, and after the shame of Mr. Brocklehurst's visit, Jane begins to recover. Even the tea and cakes given to her by Miss Temple are a sign of generosity until now largely absent in Jane's life. Now, she begins to feel that this particularly female bond is actually giving her the strength to carry on - a strength that has something mystical or spiritual about it, as Jane connects it to a sense of her budding "powers."

Although Jane has long been an admirer of Miss Temple's beauty, she now starts to realize as well that there can be an even more striking beauty that comes from inner, rather than external, attractiveness. Helen is the most devout person she's ever met, and her religion seems to give her a kind of physical as well as spiritual glow. As she further develops her friendship with both Helen and with Miss Temple, Jane learns certain lessons and chooses certain role models that were simply not available to her in the Reed family's home.

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Chapter 10 Quotes
I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon. I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space: "Then," I cried, half desperate, "grant me at least a new servitude!"
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane has graduated first in her class at school, and has decided to stay on in order to become a teacher herself. Soon, though, Miss Temple leaves for a distant land. For a long time, Jane has felt somewhat restless, trapped in an oppressive school because she is without family, poor, and female, and thus opportunities to support herself are scarce. Until now, Jane has not rebelled against these strictures: instead, she has chosen to work within them, carving out a place for herself that is tolerable mainly because of her adoration of Miss Temple. With her mentor gone, though, suddenly Jane sees no reason to continue at the school.

However, even in the midst of "gasping" for freedom, Jane is both realistic and humble enough to recognize that she cannot yearn for an entirely different lifestyle. She does pray to God, but little by little adapts her prayer so as to fit her circumstances. As she does so, nonetheless, she recognizes that because of her social position, and because of her current circumstances, there are few things she could do that would actually give her greater liberty. Finally, she accepts that she may continue to feel oppressed wherever she may goes - but she insists that even that would be preferable to staying in the same place, where she knows all too well the exact outlines of her "servitude." 

Chapter 24 Quotes
He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 316
Explanation and Analysis:

At first, Jane is thrilled by the prospect of marrying Rochester, with whom she is so in love. But little by little, the gaps between their social stations and their assumptions about proper gender roles begin to grow clearer. Here, another problem arises: the fact that Jane so adores Rochester that he begins to take on the nature of an idol, someone to be worshipped instead of God.

As narrator, Jane is looking back on her earlier self, and in passages like this, narrator-Jane shows a disapproval and even regret towards character-Jane. According to her Christian beliefs, only God can be worshipped and idolized: idolizing anyone else, indeed, is a great sin. In addition, putting Rochester on such a pedestal will prevent Jane from embracing her own independence, a value that she has held dear for so long. This disconnect between what narrator-Jane knows to be true and what character-Jane cannot help from doing and thinking will inevitably have to be resolved.

Chapter 27 Quotes
"Who in the world cares for you? Or who will be injured by what you do?" Still indomitable was the reply—"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Page Number: 365
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane has learned the truth about Rochester and his existing wife, and she realizes that she must leave Thornfield. The prospect is daunting, even terrifying: Jane does not know where she'll go or what she'll do, and of course she is still in love with Rochester despite his deceit. Here, she mounts an internal debate between the part of herself that would despair about her lack of ties to the world, and the part of herself that - rather than insisting that those ties do exist - embraces her isolation. Jane comes to recognize that her independence is a virtue rather than a fault. It ensures that she answers only to the laws of God, rather than to the more transient desires of other people, or even of herself. 

Chapter 32 Quotes
St. John, no doubt, would have given the world to follow, recall, retain her, when she thus left him; but he would not give one chance of heaven, nor relinquish, for the elysium of her love, one hope of the true, eternal Paradise.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), St. John Rivers, Rosamond Oliver
Page Number: 424
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane and St. John have begun to speak frankly about St. John's feelings for Rosamond Oliver. Jane has guessed that St. John is in love with her, and he admits that this is true. However, he cannot imagine Rosamond accompanying him far away as the wife of a missionary. St. John's faith is such that he cannot consider giving up his livelihood as missionary even on account of his love for another human being: for him this kind of love is not as significant as the love he finds in serving God. At the same time, St. John's admission reflects his assumptions about the proper role of women in marriage: Rosamond's role would be to serve him as he is serving God, and he cannot imagine any other way.