Biblical Allusions in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre Essay

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Biblical Allusions in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

One Sunday evening, shortly after Jane arrives at Lowood School, she is forced to recite the sixth chapter of St. Matthew as part of the daily lesson (70; ch. 7). This chapter in Matthew states,

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? / (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. / But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (31-33)

Although these words are not stated overtly in the text, they aptly fit Jane's situation. Cast off from the Reed household, Jane is
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Historian Hugh McLeod, in Religion and Society in England, 1850-1914, writes that "Protestants believed that the Bible should be in every home, and that it should be read every day" (192). Although the different sects of Protestantism were varied throughout the Victorian era, almost all agreed that the Bible should be seen as the authoritative word of God (McLeod 100). In many upper-class families, the head of the household usually read from the Bible aloud while everyone else gathered around to listen, and even homes where no one could read displayed Bibles proudly.

The Bible had appeals for different people. Bronte uses the Bible in Jane Eyre to develop her characters. Some members of society used the Bible to guide their lives, believing that it held all the answers for existence in this life and the next. Others just enjoyed the tales: "The Bible provided an inexhaustible supply of dramatic stories, colourful characters, and memorable sayings, to which keen readers repeatedly returned as their own experience provided parallels with what they had read" (McLeod 108).

Even children were familiar with Biblical stories. As McLeod writes, "Education in Sunday Schools, church day schools or Board Schools ensured that almost everyone had at least some knowledge of the Bible" (107). Religious historian L. E. Elliott-Binns, in Religion in the Victorian Era, writes that Sunday schools