[Part VI of "Rochester vs. St. John Rivers: or why Jane Eyre preferred a cynical sinner to a religious zealot." All page and chapter references are to the Penguin Classic edition of the novel which contains an introduction and notes by Michael Mason.]

decorative initial A redeemed sinner was worth as much to a Wesleyian as a righteous zealot. Rochester loved and needed Jane. St. John Rivers did not love Jane, and only needed her as a secretary. Jane was rewarded for her absolute faith in God's work. Was not St. Paul the man who brought the story of Jesus to the Gentiles? Had not Wesley openly acknowledged his debt to a feminine thinker Antionette Bouigignon, who had written "the love of God, outside of which there is no virtue". Brontë wrote with a sense of mission. Indeed, Brontë's first biographer, Mrs Gaskell, recalled being told by her that she always wrote "with a sense of mission". In Jane Eyre, this sense burns through almost every page. The novel Jane Eyre, regardless of personal predilection, is one that should at least be considered amongst religious works. Whatever the literary value by which it is judged, it is certainly not as spiteful triumphalist a book as that which describes the progress of a man called Pilgrim.

Other Portions of This Essay


Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, Penguin, 1996.

The actual full title of the novel's manuscript was Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, edited by Currer Bell. The gender of the author was deliberately left ambivalent. The reason may become apparent during the reading of this article.

Last modified 19 January 1999