In Chapter 32 of Jane Eyre, why does Mr. John Rivers say, "and this mortal must put on immortality"?
1 Corinthians 15:53 - "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."
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Mr. John Rivers recognizes a wisdom and maturity in Jane that surpasses her years; so in Chapter 32, he stops by Jane's cottage to take advantage of her listening ear. Jane knows that Rivers is interested in Rosamond but that he struggles to suppress those feelings. Jane does not see the point in Rivers' denial of his emotions; so she begins to encourage him to act upon his feelings. At this point in the conversation, Rivers shares his thoughts about his calling to be a missionary and his belief that Rosamond does not fit into those plans. By the end of the chapter, Rivers describes to Jane his early interest in religion (which he personifies as female). He tells her that while religion has honed him and taken away his
"ambition to win power and renown for [his] wretched self, . . . [and] has formed the ambition to spread [his] Master's kingdom"
it has been unable to take away his nature (his "sinful inclinations"). He claims that he will never fully eradicate that nature until he leaves this earthly life and enters eternity--thus the allusion to I Corinthians 15:53). He views his feelings for Rosamond as part of his old nature that he must suppress.
His beliefs are ironic when connected to the events endured by Jane. She has tried desperately to suppress her natural feelings for Mr. Rochester, but he haunts her dreams. Like Mr. Rivers, she hopes that by living a mortal life of charity and purity that perhaps in eternity (or immortality) she will be able to get rid of her "sinful" emotions for Mr. Rochester.
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