In Bronte's Jane Eyre, as in Gaskell's North and South, a Victorian woman's sense of Christian duty also restricts the heroine. Jane has only known of a life serving others, and for a time, the power of this identity has kept freedom a secret from her. Just as Margaret knows no other world, Jane's experience of a life of servitude is only

what I knew of existence. And now I felt that it was not enough: I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon. I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer. . . I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication. . . "Then," I cried, half desperate, "grant me at least a new servitude". . ."A new servitude! There is something in that. . . I know there is because it does not sound too sweet. . . I have served eight years; now all I want is to serve elsewhere. . . I want this because it is of no use wanting anything better.

Like Margaret, Jane suffocates under the responsibilities of her servitude and perceives that society, founded on God, obstructs her unlimited possibilities and path towards heroism. God will not allow her the sweet bliss of liberty and rather leaves her unlimited in her mobility within the realm of servitude. Aware of her closed-off ring of freedom, she "frames a humbler supplication" and asks for at least a new servitude. Anything more 'sounds too sweet" and "is of no use wanting." Painfully aware of reality, Jane and Margaret both yield to these forces that stifle their freedom to rise above their provincial surroundings. [Do you agree with this view of religioon in both books? What evidence supports this interpretation? which argues against it?]

Content last modified 1993