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Following One's Destiny: The Importance of St. John's Ending
In the last two pages of the novel, the story of Jane and Rochester is interrupted by the appearance of the frigid St. John. This sudden disruption leaves readers shocked, disappointed, and maybe even a bit annoyed. Why did Bronte finish her passionate really like story with the appearance of St. John and a revelation from the Bible? Likewise, if conclusions exist in order to help readers in their interpretation of the rest of the novel, why does Bronte conclude by saying of St. John, “Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus!”? These concerns loom more than the reader like a dark cloud intent on ruining a sunny day. A satisfying reading of the classic novel can be garnered only after a single grapples with the part of the final two pages in the novel as a complete.
Upon closing the book, the reader’s mind immediately begins to cycle around the notion of religion in the text, and what the closing lines may or may possibly not say about the value of spirituality. Indeed, the reinforcement of religion in the novel’s ending could be Bronte’s way of indicating that religion is a principal theme, and must not be overlooked. If this is accurate, we should consider regardless of whether the ending portrays religion in a good or a adverse manner. On the other hand, maybe the notion of fate is the resounding message, one that has far much more to do with the fulfillment of person destiny than with religion as a complete. All possibilities should be examined ahead of any sort of a conclusion can be reached.
Ahead of jumping to the end, we must briefly examine the techniques in which religion is presented throughout the novel. Bronte weaves religion all through the text, infusing spirituality into the characters of Helen Burns, Mr. Brocklehurst and, of course, St. John Rivers. Every single character represents a diverse aspect of religion, a diverse way for Jane to view the paradoxical (and frequently patriarchal) Christian faith of the time. Helen Burns is influential thanks to her intense Christian views, which espouse tolerance and forgiveness at all charges. “The Bible bids us return good for evil,” states Helen to Jane (117). Whilst Jane rejects this type of Christianity as overly passive, she nonetheless absorbs its lessons and requires from it what she pleases.
The second glimpse of religion is presented to Jane in the type of Mr. Brocklehurst. Even though Jane considers some of Helen’s views, she appears to wholeheartedly reject Brocklehurst’s evangelic hypocrisy and self-righteous speeches. As head of Lowood, he preaches about the worth of sacrifice and deprivation even though simultaneously enjoying a rich life-style: “my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh” (127). Although this view of Christianity is outwardly rejected by Jane, she quietly accepts the plain way of living at Lowood. These two early impressions of religion resurface time and time once more and stay in the reader’s thoughts throughout the novel.
Whilst Helen and Mr. Brocklehurst influence Jane as a child, St. John Rivers is the dominant Christian model in her adult life. Rather than getting passive like Helen’s beliefs or hypocritical like Mr. Brocklehurst’s views, St. John’s brand of religion is rejected by Jane on the grounds that it is too detached from the passions of life. Often compared to ice, St. John is devoted to Christianity at the expense of every worldly pleasure, including his one accurate adore: “A missionary’s wife you should shall be,” states St. John to Jane. “You shall be mine: I claim you not for my pleasure, but for my Sovereign’s service” (501). St. John rejects pleasure and prizes Jane “as a soldier would a very good weapon” (504). Jane is forced to decide on among divine love and human adore, a division which appears both arbitrary and unnecessary. Recognizing that she can't deny the passion inside her, Jane proclaims, “If I join St. John, I abandon half myself: if I do to India, I go to a premature death” (503). Jane rejects St. John’s notion of complete religious devotion, opting as an alternative to follow her personal heart and spirituality.
With these 3 different versions of Christianity permeating the text, the last two pages on the life of St. John stand out as far more than a mere summary of what has occurred thus far. Indeed, Bronte appears to intend the conclusion of the novel to be read as a final comment on religion. “Firm, faithful, and devoted complete of energy, and zeal, and truth, he labours for his race,” states Jane of St. John, “he clears their painful way to improvement” (555). She goes on to praise him as “chosen” and a “good and faithful servant”: qualities that uplift him, his work, and his undying devotion to religion. In this sense, bringing St. John back in the finish of the novel creates a sense of praise, a celebration of these who give almost everything that they have to religion. Just as Jane admires Helen Burns, she apeears to admire the devout nature of St. John. Similarly, St. John seems to embody a “true” sense of religion, especially in comparison to Mr. Brocklehurst, considering that he really lives his life as he says he will and suggests that others stick to his instance. Even though Jane is happy in love, relegating St. John to the conclusion of the novel seems to recommend that his divine adore stands on a more elevated level, a level that most folks – including Jane – can only strive for. Certainly, while Jane and Rochester will someday have to face judgment, “no fear of death will darken” St. John’s last hour, as “his mind will be unclouded his heart will be undaunted his hope will be confident his heart steadfast” (556). If the reader chooses to leave the novel with these thoughts in mind, the ending can be study as portraying St. John as an perfect religious figure, and Jane as merely too weak to follow him.
A various reading of the ending can lead readers to a far different conclusion, one in which religion does not fare quite so nicely. In one light, the ending portrays Jane and Rochester as a happy couple, complete with kids and a house, while St. John lies alone on his deathbed. Each St. John’s assumed death and Helen Burns’ actual death are related with suffering and isolation from the outdoors world. “St. John is unmarried: he never will marry now,” states Jane. “Himself has hitherto sufficed to the toil and the toil draws close to its close” (556). The somber tone of the last couple of paragraphs has the prospective to leave readers with a adverse, virtually sacrificial view of religion. Jane, picking her personal spirituality and human love more than the structure and sacrifice of devout Christianity, ends the novel pleased and in enjoy. The religious characters, in contrast, fare poorly throughout the novel, and the end can be seen as a mere extension of their sad fate. Helen, of course, dies of consumption at the depressing Lowood boarding school. Brocklehurst is “discharged of his duties by gentlemen of rather far more enlarged and sympathetic minds,” leaving the hypocritical evangelist with out a high position. St. John presumably dies alone in a foreign nation, distant from the pleasures and realities of the human planet. In this sense, the finish can be viewed as a critique of structured religion, favoring men and women like Jane who strike a balance among this life and the next more than those who, like St. John, give all that they have to God.
Even though a single can see both the optimistic and damaging interpretations of religion presented by the ending, neither evaluation is wholly satisfying. The novel, following all, is the story of Jane Eyre and her search for spirituality and fulfillment, not a definitive judgment on religion. Viewing the ending as providing a concrete stance on religion leaves readers unsatisfied, as the wonderful really like of Jane and Rochester seems practically diminished by the look of the religious St. John and his Biblical wisdom. Indeed, one particular could argue that a really satisfying interpretation of the novel can be accomplished only when the role of destiny – each human and divine – is placed above the importance of the novel’s religious theme.
“God has given us, in a measure, the power to make our own fate,” proclaims St. John to Jane long just before he tries to persuade her to accept a life of servitude (457). The line echoes throughout the novel, becoming a main theme in the text. Despite the fact that Jane rejects the three dominant representations of religion, she never ever abandons her faith in God and spirituality. Jane’s individual faith in both God and in herself guides her actions, and it is this combined fate that ultimately leads her to exactly where she is meant to be. Whenever Jane is faced with a moral or physical challenge, she looks to God for strength and guidance. For example, she turns to God for the strength to leave Rochester right after obtaining out about the disgraceful scenario he has place her in: “I did what human beings do instinctively when they are driven to utter extremity looked for help to one greater power than man: the words ‘God aid me!’ burst involuntarily from my lips” (394). Likewise, when Jane finds herself poor and starving after she has left Rochester, she comments that she feels “the may and strength of God” (416). Jane makes use of her special connection with God to curb her overwhelming passions, rather than to deny them altogether like St. John. Eventually, she is able to garner courage via her faith.
On a related level, she sees that she should leave Rochester after she realizes that he has turn out to be a god to her, blurring the balance between the human and the divine. “My future husband was becoming to me my entire planet and much more than the world: almost my hope of heaven,” proclaims Jane. “He stood amongst me and every believed of religion, as an eclipse intervenes amongst man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for his creature: of whom I had created an idol” (361). This notion that Jane needs both the divine aid of God and the powerful force of human love is integral both to her spirituality and to her character as a complete. While Jane knows that she can not deny her adore for Rochester, she appreciates the truth that she can not happily exist without having doing what is proper and moral in the eyes of God. This sense of living morally drives her away from Thornfield, but in the end her passions bring her back soon after the moral stain – Bertha – is removed from the equation, enabling Jane to reside both morally and passionately with her beloved.
God’s operate and destiny look to go hand in hand in this novel, as the characters attribute the end final results of their lives to divine destiny. Jane, for instance, believes that God led her in the proper direction following she left Rochester: “I really feel now that I was appropriate when I adhered to principle and law, and scorned and crushed the insane promptings of a frenzied moment. God directed me to a correct choice: I thank His providence for the guidance” (455). While she is the a single who produced the choice to leave, she nonetheless credits God with the outcome of her decision. Even Rochester attributes Jane’s return to him at the close of the novel to an act of God: “Now, I thank God!…Yes, I thank God” (551). Similarly, St. John’s choice to devote his entire life to God is portrayed as God’s will, evident in the fact that St. John sees himself as “chosen.” “I know my leader,” claims St. John, “that He is just as well as mighty and He has chosen a feeble instrument to perform a wonderful task” (501). This notion of God dictating the actions of males can also be witnessed in the reality that every single volume of the novel ends on a religious note, suggesting that it is God who is directing the lives of every character towards a good and just finish. Thus, the book can be read as a reinforcement of faith and morality, rather than as a judgment on religion as a complete.
The reader can view the conclusion as a fulfillment of person destiny: the workings of God and man permit each particular person a hand in picking his or her personal fate. Just as Rochester and Jane fulfill their destiny by becoming a married couple, St. John fulfills his fate to be a missionary for a God he cannot deny. Searching at the novel in this way, the question of whether the religious characters have pleased endings to their lives is irrelevant, as each and every character tends to make choices guided by a wish to comply with their personal destiny – a destiny shaped by each human and Divine workings. Arguably, reading the ending in this manner makes for a a lot more satisfying knowledge than reading it from a standard, religious viewpoint. Rather than an endorsement of a single way of life or one kind of religion, the ending indicates Bronte’s belief that each person – St. John included – receives the life he or she has prayed for. Certainly, the novel ends with the line, “Amen even so come, Lord Jesus!” as a implies of praising God for watching over the lives of Helen, Jane, and St. John, for guiding them through life to their ultimate destiny (556).
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Ontario: Broadview Press, 2002.
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