Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
Charlotte Gainsbourg playing the role of Jane Eyre in Franco Zeffirelli's movie (1996, from the movie trailer)
‘Reader, I married him‘, Charlotte Brontë wrote at the onset of the last chapter of her masterpiece ‘Jane Eyre’ published in October 1847 to instant success. Actually, Charlotte married seven years later, in June 1854, but to become ill after a few months and to die on March 31st of the next year. Had her dreams shattered? They didn’t: her dreams are deathless.
In my opinion, Jane Eyre is not just a novel, it is a Christian novel, or at least a novel sewn around a thread of Gospels, prayers and obligations like in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England . Jane Eyre ends with an invocation of the young clergyman, St. John Rivers:
No fear of death will darken St. John's last hour: his mind will be unclouded, his heart will be undaunted, his hope will be sure, his faith steadfast. His own words are a pledge of this: "My Master," he says, "has forewarned me. Daily He announces more distinctly,--'Surely I come quickly!' and hourly I more eagerly respond,--'Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!'" END
I will select a few similitudes, which suggest that Jane Eyre (JE) looks a feminine image of Christ, as her life is for saving soul and curing illness of his master, Edward F. Rochester, though most of the people mistake on her, refuse and reject her care and benevolence. Choice and interpretation may seem arbitrary, but reading and rereading the novel in all with Charlotte’s milieu suggest them.
In Chapter XXI: Mrs. Reed (MR), Jane’s maternal aunt by marriage, on her deathbed:
(MR) "You have a very bad disposition," said she, "and one to this day I feel it impossible to understand: how for nine years you could be patient and quiescent under any treatment, and in the tenth break out all fire and violence, I can never comprehend." (JE) "My disposition is not so bad as you think: I am passionate, but not vindictive. Many a time, as a little child, I should have been glad to love you if you would have let me; and I long earnestly to be reconciled to you now: kiss me, aunt." I approached my cheek to her lips: she would not touch it. She said I oppressed her by leaning over the bed, and again demanded water. omissis (JE) "Love me, then, or hate me, as you will," I said at last, "you have my full and free forgiveness: ask now for God's, and be at peace.
Chapter XXII: The night sudden encounter with Edward F. Rochester (ER), the master of Thornfield Hall, recalls Saint Paul’s encounter with Christ on the Damascus road (in the Book of Common Prayer). Both fell from horse and had a revelation.
(ER) " omissis When you came on me in Hay Lane last night, I thought unaccountably of fairy tales, and had half a mind to demand whether you had bewitched my horse: I am not sure yet. Who are your parents?" (JE) "I have none." (ER) "Nor ever had, I suppose: do you remember them?" (JE) "No." (ER) "I thought not. And so you were waiting for your people when you sat on that stile?" (JE) "For whom, sir?" (ER) "For the men in green: it was a proper moonlight evening for them. Did I break through one of your rings, that you spread that damned ice on the causeway?"
Jane’s childhood and youth go through long sufferings like Christ passion, alleviated by spiritual and generous friends like Helen Burns and Miss Temple. Suffering reaches its climax just after Edward has arranged a deceiving wedding, when Jane, refusing to become his lover, leaves Thornfield Hall for the unknown. ‘Three days’ elapse (like Jesus Christ in the sepulchre?) in the deserted moorland. She sleeps in the open air under a crag (the sepulchre?).
Moorland and crags. Credits to David Oxtaby, Yorkshire Life. https://www.yorkshirelife.co.uk/out-about/12-photographs-that-capture-the-true-beauty-of-yorkshire-heather-1-5204525
In Chapter XXVIII. People of a nameless village repulse her.
Reader, it is not pleasant to dwell on these details. Some say there is enjoyment in looking back to painful experience past; but at this day I can scarcely bear to review the times to which I allude: the moral degradation, blent with the physical suffering, form too distressing a recollection ever to be willingly dwelt on. I blamed none of those who repulsed me. I felt it was what was to be expected, and what could not be helped: an ordinary beggar is frequently an object of suspicion; a well-dressed beggar inevitably so.
Gospel of Saint John: Jo,1,10-11. In mundo erat ... et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit et sui eum non receperunt.
When, prostrated, desperate, facing the death, Jane is saved to life by a young clergyman, St. John Eyre Rivers (SJ) (Saint John the Apostle?).
This was the climax. A pang of exquisite suffering--a throe of true despair--rent and heaved my heart. Worn out, indeed, I was; not another step could I stir. I sank on the wet doorstep: I groaned--I wrung my hands--I wept in utter anguish. Oh, this spectre of death! Oh, this last hour, approaching in such horror! Alas, this isolation--this banishment from my kind! Not only the anchor of hope, but the footing of fortitude was gone--at least for a moment; but the last I soon endeavoured to regain. (JE) "I can but die," I said, "and I believe in God. Let me try to wait His will in silence." These words I not only thought, but uttered; and thrusting back all my misery into my heart, I made an effort to compel it to remain there--dumb and still. (SJ) "All men must die," said a voice quite close at hand; "but all are not condemned to meet a lingering and premature doom, such as yours would be if you perished here of want."
Gospel of Saint John, Jo,20,1-9 (passim). Una autem sabbati, Maria Magdalene venit mane, cum adhuc tenebræ essent, ad monumentum: et vidit lapidem sublatum a monumento. Cucurrit ergo, et venit ad Simonem Petrum, et ad alium discipulum, quem amabat Jesus, et dicit illis: Tulerunt Dominum de monumento, et nescimus ubi posuerunt eum. Exiit ergo Petrus, et ille alius discipulus, et venerunt ad monumentum. Currebant autem duo simul, et ille alius discipulus præcucurrit citius Petro, et venit primus ad monumentum. Et cum se inclinasset, vidit posita linteamina: non tamen introivit. ... Tunc ergo introivit et ille discipulus qui venerat primus ad monumentum: et vidit, et credidit: nondum enim sciebant Scripturam, quia oportebat eum a mortuis resurgere.
In Chapter XXVII, Jane, now rich and independent, comes back to Thornfield Hall, now burnt, after hearing Edward’s painful invocation “Jane, Jane, Jane”. The sightless Edward, trying to recognize Jane, may recall the doubting Thomas of Saint John’s Gospel.
(JE) "I am Jane Eyre: I have found you out--I am come back to you." (ER) "In truth?--in the flesh? My living Jane?" (JE) "You touch me, sir,--you hold me, and fast enough: I am not cold like a corpse, nor vacant like air, am I?" (ER) "My living darling! ..."
Gospel of Saint John. 20,24-28. Thomas autem unus ex duodecim, qui dicitur Didymus, non erat cum eis quando venit Jesus. Dixerunt ergo ei alii discipuli: Vidimus Dominum. Ille autem dixit eis: Nisi videro in manibus ejus fixuram clavorum, et mittam digitum meum in locum clavorum, et mittam manum meam in latus ejus, non credam. Et post dies octo, iterum erant discipuli ejus intus, et Thomas cum eis. Venit Jesus januis clausis, et stetit in medio, et dixit: Pax vobis. Deinde dicit Thomæ: Infer digitum tuum huc, et vide manus meas, et affer manum tuam, et mitte in latus meum: et noli esse incredulus, sed fidelis. Respondit Thomas, et dixit ei: Dominus meus et Deus meus.
At the end, Jane’s love and care saves his soul and cures his blindness.
in Chapter XXVII. He put me off his knee, rose, and reverently lifting his hat from his brow, and bending his sightless eyes to the earth, he stood in mute devotion. Only the last words of the worship were audible. "I thank my Maker, that, in the midst of judgment, he has remembered mercy. I humbly entreat my Redeemer to give me strength to lead henceforth a purer life than I have done hitherto!" In Chapter XXVIII. One morning at the end of the two years, as I was writing a letter to his dictation, he came and bent over me, and said--"Jane, have you a glittering ornament round your neck?" I had a gold watch-chain: I answered "Yes." "And have you a pale blue dress on?" I had. He informed me then, that for some time he had fancied the obscurity clouding one eye was becoming less dense; and that now he was sure of it. He and I went up to London. He had the advice of an eminent oculist; and he eventually recovered the sight of that one eye.
May it recall Jesus healing the paralytic at Capernaum, which can be read in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke?
Sacro Monte di Varallo (Piedmont. Italy), Chapel XV. Jesus healing the paralytic.
Gospel of Saint Mark, 2, 5-12. Cum vidisset autem Iesus fidem illorum, ait paralytico: “ Fili, dimittuntur peccata tua ”. Erant autem illic quidam de scribis sedentes et cogitantes in cordibus suis: “ Quid hic sic loquitur? Blasphemat! Quis potest dimittere peccata nisi solus Deus? ”. Quo statim cognito Iesus spiritu suo quia sic cogitarent intra se, dicit illis: “ Quid ista cogitatis in cordibus vestris? Quid est facilius, dicere paralytico: “Dimittuntur peccata tua”, an dicere: “Surge et tolle grabatum tuum et ambula”? Ut autem sciatis quia potestatem habet Filius hominis interra dimittendi peccata — ait paralytico - : Tibi dico: Surge, tolle grabatum tuum et vade in domum tuam ”. Et surrexit et protinus sublato grabato abiit coram omnibus,...
 The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the Use of the Church of England, together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, Printed by J. Baskerville, Cambridge, MDCCLXII.