Masters Thesis

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and nineteenth-century Christianity

The textual, biographical and historical inquiry into Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre will center on the explicit and implicit Christianity of the novel and how it was possibly influenced by Charlotte Bronte's own unconventional religious perspective. The questions that I will explore deal with the brand of Christianity and social idealism with which Bronte was brought up, and how this is reflected in the text. Biography here is used to evaluate Bronte's attitudes concerning a multitude of Christianities, both prevalent and fledgling during the mid-eighteen hundreds. I will contextualize her faith, in hopes of broadening and enhancing our understanding of the text, and thus challenge aspects of the readings by critics who see her apparent feminism as a direct challenge to Christianity, (which they construe as a singular and monolithic social phenomenon). In chapter one I will contextualize Charlotte Bronte through the religious and social climate of her time and her own beliefs as they are revealed in her biography and letters. I will focus on the varying religious motifs of the novel as they are exemplified in the main characters. Chapter two will center on the character of St. John Rivers. Chapter three with Edward Rochester. Chapter four concerning Jane Eyre. At this point in my research, I have come to believe that Bronte studies in the recent past and present (1970's on) focus mainly on the feminist aspect of Jane Eyre while the Christian component is often marginalized or misunderstood.

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