The Gospel according to Jane Eyre

I am re-reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and loving every minute of it. The language and style of writing of this novel, first published in 1847, make me smile and occasionally frown at the same time because I have grown so accustomed to reading very plain, simple, and (at times) not-so-well-written English (eg, Internet news). And, alas, my career in medical writing does not lend itself to flowery prose.

Much to my delight, at the end of Chapter 6, I found the following most eloquent presentation of the gospel as spoken by the character Helen Burns. This childhood friend of Jane Eyre would soon die of consumption. (Did death from consumption only truly exist in Gothic novels?)

I even suggest that you read this passage aloud — it sounds so wonderful rolling off of the tongue. Enjoy!!

“We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world: but the time will soon come when, I trust, we shall put them off in putting off our corruptible bodies when debasement and sin will fall from us with this cumbrous frame of flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will remain, — the impalpable principle of life and thought, pure as when it left the Creator to inspire the creature: whence it came it will return; perhaps again to be communicated to some being higher than man — perhaps to pass through gradations of glory, from the pale human soul to brighten to the seraph! Surely it will never, on the contrary, be suffered to degenerate from man to fiend? No I cannot believe that: I hold another creed which no one ever taught me, and which I seldom mention; but in which I delight, and to which I cling: for it extends hope to all: it makes Eternity a rest — a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his rime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last: with this creed revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low: I live in calm, looking to the end.”


One thought on “The Gospel according to Jane Eyre

  1. LOVE Jane Eyre–it’s so funny when the gospel comes at you from unlikely places (I suppose 1800’s isn’t that unlikely) but…ya’ know what I mean.

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