What is an example of "self-righteousness is not religion" in the Bronte's Jane Eyre?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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When speaking of "righteousness" in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, one might first think of Helen Burns who is the first really kind person to befriend Jane at school. Helen is certainly a Christ-like figure because not only does she teach Jane to respond to evil with good as Christ taught, but she is publicly humiliated as Christ was; and, she  never complained about life or announced her piety in the process. Years later, Jane meets St. John who is a preacher who has devoted his life to serving others in a church position. This is noble and wonderful of him, but as he wants Jane to become his wife, his ideals are a little over the top and he tries to manipulate Jane into living according to them. St. John becomes controlling, rude, judgmental, and self-righteous to a point that he doesn't really apply the teachings of Christ towards others. Thus we can possibly infer that the point that Bronte was making includes an age old cliche that things (and people) aren't always what they seem to be. In fact, a young orphan girl can live her religion better than an ordained preacher.

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