Essay PreviewMore ↓
In the nineteenth century, the role of charity was portrayed differently by many individuals depending on what religion they followed. On one hand, many people felt obligated to help the unfortunate to comply with religious responsibility and to become better individuals. On the other hand, Others, felt that the misfortunes of the poor weren’t their responsibility. The different concepts of charity can be viewed in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre, as she reveals to us the various experiences Jane underwent as an orphan. Many of the instances that Bronte mentions in her novel are references to some of the incidents she encountered in her school years. To know why charity was significantly one of Bronte’s main focuses in the novel, we will look at the conceptions that the Anglicans and other Christian groups had of charity in the nineteenth century, as well as a history of Bronte’s familial background.
The Anglicans and other Christian groups viewed charity differently in the nineteenth century. Each religion had and preached its own concept. We learn that the Anglicans’ views are more in opposition to charity when Cheryl Walsh indicates that, "Through this type of religion, there was very little encouragement for the development of a social conscience—of recognition of any kind of responsibility for the welfare of fellow human beings"(353). Walsh also mentions that Anglicans "Felt neither responsible for the suffering of the poor nor called on to help alleviate that suffering"(353). The belief of not being responsible for the misfortunes of the poor and not attempting to help them in any way draws the notion that Anglicans clearly didn’t favor charitable acts. On the other hand, according to St. Paul, Christianity’s view on charity was more an act of duty than the expected one of kindness.
Christianity propagated charity as one of the necessary acts that a good Christian should follow. Graham Gordon believes that in Christianity, "Charity is considered chief of the Christian virtues," and that "Charity is commended by St. Paul for being the true way to the end which religious practices seek"(10). We can see that in being a chief virtue, charity is highly encouraged in the sense that helping others is considered to be a great deed of good doing. Therefore, we can draw the notion that those who wish to follow the "true way to the end," are those that contribute the most to the poor, as opposed to those mentioned by Walsh who see themselves as "not responsible for the welfare of human beings.
How to Cite this Page
"Nineteenth Century Views on Charity as Depicted in Charlotte Bronte’s Life and Novel, Jane Eyre." 123HelpMe.com. 27 Feb 2020
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Poverty and Charity in Jane Eyre When Jane Eyre resided at Gateshead Hall, under the care of her aunt, Mrs. Reed, she yearned for a change. The treatment that she received at Gateshead Hall was cruel, unjust, and most importantly, lacked nurture. Jane wanted to escape Gateshead Hall and enter into a school. The school that was imposed upon Jane was Lowood Institution. Through her eight year stay at Lowood, Jane learned how to control her frustrations and how to submit to authority. After leaving Lowood Institution and taking the occupation as governess at Thornfield Hall, Jane realized that her experiences at Gateshead Hall and Lowood Institution had deeply rooted themselves into her perso... [tags: Jane Eyre Essays]
1140 words (3.3 pages)
- The Powerful Opening of Jane Eyre The Bildungsroman, a novel that details the growth and development of a main character through several periods of life, began as a German genre in the seventeenth century, but by the mid eighteen hundreds it had become firmly established in England as well. Such important Victorian novels as Great Expectations, base themselves on this form, which continues as an important literary sub-genre even today. The Bildungsroman typically told the story of a man growing from boyhood to adulthood.... [tags: Jane Eyre Essays]
1719 words (4.9 pages)
- The Impact of the Beginning of Jane Eyre on the Audience 'Jane Eyre' is a book that is written in a way that draws the reader into Jane's life and emotions. At the beginning of the book, we see nineteenth century life through a child's eyes. Jane is not treated kindly or with love and because of this we see how awfully some children were treated in the nineteenth century, so very different to our world today where that would be unacceptable to treat a child badly, this impacts the reader dramatically.... [tags: Papers]
576 words (1.6 pages)
- Jane Eyre and Education in Nineteenth-century England Jane Eyre provides an accurate view of education in nineteenth-century England, as seen by an 1840s educator. The course of Jane's life in regard to her own education and her work in education are largely autobiographical, mirroring Charlotte Bronte's own life. Jane's time at Lowood corresponds to Charlotte's education at a school for daughters of the clergy, which she and her sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Emily left for in 1824. Jane went on to attend Miss Wooler's school at Roehead from 1831 to 1832, and returned to teach there for three years in 1935, just as Jane became a teacher at Lowood.... [tags: Jane Eyre Essays]
1561 words (4.5 pages)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë was first published on October 16, 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co. in London, England. It was later republished by Barnes and Noble in 2011. The story follows none other than Jane Eyre herself as she tells her riveting tale of lies, deceit, passion, and love. From the earliest years of her childhood, Jane is put through many trials and tribulations that end up dictating the way she behaves when she grows older. Although she does not handle the situations in the best way as a child, she finds ways to correct the wrongs she has committed when she becomes a more mature adult.... [tags: Jane Eyre, Governess, Life, Jane Eyre]
1002 words (2.9 pages)
- Parallel to many of the great feministic novels throughout literary history, Jane Eyre is a story about the quest for authentic love. However, Jane Eyre is unique and separate from other romantic pieces, in that it is also about a woman searching for a sense of self-worth through achieving a degree of independence. Orphaned and dismissed at an early age, Jane was born into a modest lifestyle that was characterized by a form of oppressive servitude of which she had no autonomy. She was busy spending much of her adolescent years locked in chains, both imaginary and real, as well as catering to the needs of her peers.... [tags: Jane Eyre]
1836 words (5.2 pages)
- Nineteenth Century Education in Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte was born in Yorkshire in 1816. She spent most of her life in Haworth, a bleak Yorkshire village where her father was curate. In 1821 her mother died, so she, her four sisters, Elizabeth, Anne, Maria and Emily and her brother Branwell were sent to live with their Aunt, Elizabeth Branwell. In 1824 Charlotte was sent with Elizabeth, Maria and Emily to a school for daughters of the clergy. While at school two of her sisters died of typhus, this is where she got her inspiration for Lowood.... [tags: Papers]
1082 words (3.1 pages)
- “In what way is social class preventing Jane Eyre of living a life of equality and freedom, and how is this related to feminism?” Jane Eyre lived in the time of the Victorian Era, which Queen Victoria reigned. The way of life of women in Victorian England has a great impact on how Jane was brought up. This is because of their system which “defined the role of a woman” and every woman had a customary routine for their respective class. If one were to take on the standards of another, it would be considered as a serious offense.... [tags: Jane Eyre Writer]
1029 words (2.9 pages)
- Seeking a Place for Life in Brontë’s Jane Eyre The best novels, like the best people, are conflicted. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Erye is certainly no exception. At times, the novel seems almost at war with itself, an impression that may be explored only narrowly in this venue. Jane Eyre navigates a complex and treacherous territory between various extremes, mapping these spaces in rich detail for her “dear reader”. The novel unfolds on the boundary between the old, hierarchical social order of the ancient regime and the emerging autonomy of a more modern sense of self. It undertakes various pilgrimages through places where women are struggling (with varying degrees of success) to c... [tags: Jane Eyre Essays]
1279 words (3.7 pages)
- Jane Eyre and the Lovemad Woman I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fiery iron grasped my vitals. Terrible moment: full of struggle blackness, burning. No human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better then I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped: and I must renounce love and idol. (311; ch. 27) Jane Eyre’s inner struggle over leaving an already married Rochester is the epitome of the new "lovemad" woman in nineteenth-century literature. Jane Eyre is the story of a lovemad woman who has two parts to her personality (herself and Bertha Mason) to accommodate this madness.... [tags: Jane Eyre Literature]
3143 words (9 pages)
The different levels at which charity is conceived, lead to Graham’s political view that
Charity bids us be concerned for the interests and happiness of others and cannot be squared with complacent indifference to the poor and the oppressed. It is, I believe, a desire to do something for the poor, which underlies the phenomenon called the politicization of religion…Christians have despaired of ever alleviating the obstacles to God’s goodness by means of charitable organizations (79-80).
Helping the poor is more of a moral obligation when it comes to "a desire to do something for the poor." Also, since charity is a religious duty, Christians developed "charitable organizations" to meet the standards that God has set as their religious responsibilities. Beyond the important issue of the nineteenth century conceptions of charity, is Bronte’s familial background, which gave potential to the issue of charity in Jane Eyre.
The beginning years for the Brontes were quite difficult in the sense that they were young and motherless. Mr. Bronte was a man of religion and wanted to secure the future for his children so that they would be successful individuals. Through this notion, Phyllis Bentley briefly describes Mr. Bronte:
He was sincerely religious with favorable inclination towards the reforming of zeal and Wesley; well informed on current affairs, well read and fond of reading. At the time of His marriage, he was minister at Hartshead. In 1820, he was appointed incumbent of Haworth, and moved his family to Haworth Parsonage (15).
With the notion of his religious experience, Mr. Bronte appears to be a man who spent a lot of time in the church, and his teachings are what shaped the influences of his children. Therefore, Charlotte’s choice to write about charity in Jane Eyre can be drawn from the impact that her father possibly had in being a priest.
In an attempt to secure the future for his children, and not being able to pay for their schooling, Mr. Bronte placed his children in a charity school, which Bentley describes as, "The Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge, by the Rev. William Carus Wilson who aimed to provide board and education for the daughters of the clergy for a fee of L14 a year, the remaining sums necessary being provided by charitable subscriptions" (25). In Charlotte’s novel Jane Eyre, "Cowan Bridge and Carus Wilson are drawn as Lowood and Mr. Brocklehurst"(Bentley, 25). The incidents that took place in this institution very much resemble those in the novel that took place at Lowood. Very little reference is made in respect to religion on Charlotte’s behalf. However, the information provided about her father and the charity institution at which she and her sisters attended, serve as the potentials, which led charity to be a significant focus in her novel of Jane Eyre.
Bentley, Phyllis. The Bronte’s and Their World. New York: Viking P, 1969
Graham, Gordon. The Idea of Christian Charity. Notre Dame, IN: U of Notre Dame P, 1990.
Walsh, Cheryl. "The Incarnation and the Christian Socialist Conscience in the Victorian Church of England." Journal of British Studies. 34 (1995): 351-74.