Jane Eyre: A Literary Analysis
A brief literary analysis of Jane Eyre as Christ figure in Charlotte Bronte's novel, Jane Eyre.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened for you.
In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Jane's life is directly analogous to that of Christ. In particular, the events surrounding Jane's marriage to Rochester ascribe to the pattern of Jesus' life just at the hour of his crucifixion. At the hands of Rochester, Jane suffers the martyrdom of Jesus, but she "rises from death" to return to him. On the eve of their marriage, Jane dies; she spends the three days after their marriage day in death; and, once she has passed a period of time away from Rochester, she returns to heal his ailing faith. Bronte's sets up Jane as a Christ figure in order to develop our sympathies for her character and her relationship with Rochester.
The night before Jane is to marry Rochester, while she lies in disturbed sleep, Bertha (she's certainly no longer Antoinette!) sneaks into her room and tears her wedding veil in two. Just before Jesus dies on the cross, the temple's veil is rent down the middle. Both call out to another (Sophie and God respectively) just before the veil is torn. Shortly after the rending, each expires. The tearing of the veil signifies the shallowness of the people bringing about the death. Like Jesus before her, Jane must die because Rochester does behave as a "good man" must.
When her marriage falls through in the church, it is the end of Jane's life. The entire world that she had constructed for herself completely dissolves and she is left with nothing. To escape Rochester and the world, she runs off alone. For three nights she wanders in death. During this period, Jane has nothing. She owns no food and no clothing but that which she is wearing. She feels her strength failing, but on the third night she is risen up. St. John brings her into his home and gives her a second life. After his crucifixion, Jesus was placed in the tomb; but on the third day, he arose to take his rightful place "at the right had of God."
When she has arisen, Jane's return is delayed by her stay with the Rivers, but that is necessary for Rochester to exonerate himself for his crimes. Though she is delayed in her return, Jane does return to Rochester. Like the Apostle Thomas upon Jesus' resurrection, Rochester does not at first believe that Jane is there. He insists that he must touch her to be sure. Eventually though, he is assured, and Jane's new life and new position commences in earnest.
Connecting Jane to Christ immediately brings "good" associations to the reader. Since Jane is a hero so much like he was, we feel her to be "good," and everyone and thing which hinders her to be "bad." Social mores automatically make the reader like Jane simply by association. Although she has some annoying quirks in the beginning of the novel, as she progresses through the analogy, we lose sight of them in favor of a much more complimentary image.
The reader comes to "root" for Jane's resurrection and return because his sympathies are being drawn to that end. As the book progresses, Jane becomes increasingly the loving martyr; it would be nearly impossible for a reader to desire harm to come to her. The reader also sees how only marriage to Rochester will make Jane happy. Since we want Jane to be happy, we like Rochester in spite of the terrible things he's done. Since only that marriage will complete Jane's life (and thus our own enjoyment of the novel), we desire it almost as much as she does. Jane even becomes the savior, for her return brings happiness to Rochester's life. Our reaction to Rochester's delight is pleasing, and so he becomes "redeemed" by her martyrdom. Jane as Christ makes everyone happy.
Bronte raises our awareness of Jane's goodness and makes the reader hope for her happiness by setting her up as a Christ-figure. The comparison becomes most powerful between Jane's wedding and Jesus' crucifixion, and it leads the reader to a wholehearted acceptance of Rochester and their relationship. The suspense and desire heighten as St. John seeks Jane and we are brought to a happy and delightful conclusion when Jane (and her beloved sisters) end the story in wedded bliss.