Bronte’s Beliefs

Jane-eyre charlotte-bronte

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) published Jane Eyre: An Autobiography (1847), the first of four novels, under the pseudonym of Currer Bell. This book contains excellent advice on practical religion, suffering, virtue, and work.

Ms. Bronte

  • “Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns. … Appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is … a difference; and it is a good, not a bad action, to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them. The world may not like to see these ideas dissevered, for it has been accustomed to blend them; finding it convenient to make external show pass for sterling worth – to let white-washed walls vouch for clean shrines. It may hate him who dares to scrutinize and expose – to raze the gilding and show base metal under it – to penetrate the sepulcher and reveal charnel relics. But hate as it will, it is indebted to him.” (Preface to 2nd edition)

Helen Burns

  • “If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”
  • “Besides this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible world and a kingdom of spirits. That world is round us, for it is everywhere; and those spirits watch us, for they are commissioned to guard us. And if we were dying in pain and shame, if scorn smote us on all sides and hatred crushed us, angels see our tortures, recognize our innocence (if innocent we be) … and God waits only the separation of spirit from flesh to crown us with a full reward. Why, then, should we ever sink overwhelmed with distress, when life is so soon over, and death is so certain an entrance to happiness – to glory?”

Jane Eyre

  • “It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility. They must have action, and they will make it if they cannot find it. … Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally, but women feel just as men feel. They need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do. They suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer. And it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”
  • “The human and fallible should not arrogate a power with which the divine and perfect alone can be safely instructed … that of saying of any strange, unsanctioned line of action, ‘Let it be right.'”
  • “A wanderer’s repose or a sinner’s reformation should never depend on a fellow creature. Men and women die; philosophers falter in wisdom, and Christians in goodness. If anyone you know has suffered and erred, then let him look higher than his equals for strength to amend and solace to heal.”
  • “Feeling without judgment is a washy draught indeed. But judgment untempered by feeling is too bitter and husky a morsel for human deglutition.”
  • “There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.”
  • “Prejudices … are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
  • “To live amidst general regard, though it be but the regard of working people, is like ‘sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet’; serene inward feelings bud and bloom under the ray.”
  • “Reserved people often really need the frank discussion of their sentiments and griefs more than the expansive. The sternest-seeming stoic is human after all, and to ‘burst’ with boldness and goodwill into ‘the silent sea’ of their souls is often to confer on them the first of obligations.”

St. John Rivers

  • “Once wrench your heart from man and fix it on your Maker, the advancement of that Maker’s spiritual kingdom on earth will be your chief delight and endeavor. You will be ready to do at once whatever furthers that end.”

Edward Rochester

  • “Pity … is the suffering mother of love. Its anguish is the very natal pang of the divine passion.”

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