Saint John in Jane Eyre
-----a saint and a john
Metaphor, in fact, is never an innocent figure of speech.
Alain Robbe Grillet, snapshots and towards a new novel, p78
I wish you had not sent me Jane Eyre. It interested me so much that I have lost (or won if you like) a whole day in reading it at the busiest period.
Thackeray, letter to W. S Williams, 23 October 1847
Reception of Jane Eyre in the academic circle and public
Jane Eyre has maintained to be a quite popular classic fiction since its publication in 1837. Even in a recent poll about reading classics in Great Britain Jane Eyre is on the third place after only Pride and Prejudice and The King of Rings. Jane Eyre also enjoys a long history of critical reading in academia. Its fame has some ups and downs. After the rise of feminist reading, it has attracted tremendous attention in the literary circle around the world. Much of the critical attention has been attracted to the protagonist Jane herself and her lover Rochester. Even the minor character the famous madwoman Bertha has received a surge of attention after the publication of The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
One character, however, doesn't get the deserved attention as other characters in the novel. Saint john-- a key character in the second half of the book is sometimes intentionally or unintentionally neglected. Saint John was sometimes considered by some critics as a minor character and thus doesn't deserve full attention. Another reason for this negligence is in Professor Fang's words that “the second half of the book especially the part contain Saint John is somewhat a failure compared to the first half”.
As neglected as it seems to be, however, we still have some wonderful essays on this subject. The distinguished literary critic and professor Q.D.Leavis points out in her introduction to penguin 1966 version of Jane Eyre that Saint John plays an important role in Jane’s mature process. She even suggests his connection to Mr. Brocklehurst. A paper written by Kayebee in 1997 also makes a good comparison between Rochester and Saint John. Due to his missionary identity, most of critical attention paid to Saint John focus on his role of colonist, such as in Carl Plasa’s paper (2004). Their analyses are persuasive and excellent. However, most of them are not comprehensive or do not focus on Saint John in the original text.
So in this paper I will examine the character of Saint John from different perspectives in a comprehensive way. I will argue that Saint John’s dominating male personality constitutes a test to Jane’s independent standing and his religious belief is also distorted by it. It is not coincident that Bronte names this character as Saint John. For he embodies two tensioned personalities, one is that of a devoted Calvinist saint; the other is that of dominating personality of john reed---the monster cousin Jane has as well as Rochester---Jane’s master lover
Approach and method employed in the paper
In my analysis of the text throughout this paper, I will take feminism approach. The method I will adopt is textual analysis, both interpretive textual analyses and content analysis.
Saint John and Jane Eyre herself------ master turned kinsman
He is "a good yet stern, a conscientious yet implacable man."
CHAPTER XXXV Jane Eyre
The theoretical framework and the intended goal
Halliday (1985) argues that lexical features of texts have three functions. One of them is that they construct and effect social relations ("tenor"). Thus, by analyzing the lexical features of discourses between Saint John and Jane at different points, we can see the social relation between them.
I would argue in the following analysis that Saint John never considers Jane as an equal, at least not before he finds out that Jane is entitled to a large fortune. I would argue that the power relationship between Jane and Saint John is from the start a slave—master one. By slave---master relationship I adopt the following definition from the novel itself: a person is in a position of slave when he/she is “slaving amongst” people who” neither knew nor sought out their innate excellences, and appreciated only their acquired accomplishments as they appreciated the skill of their cook or the taste of their waiting-woman”. According to this definition by Jane herself, saint john is trying to put her in a even worse position, because he not only have no interest in knowing or seeking out her innate excellences, but also have no appreciation for her acquired accomplishments, what he seeks after her is just her physical ability to endure the pain and roughness. However this textual power relationship is changed rather suddenly due his discovery that Jane in fact is his uncle’s legal heiress and thus is entitled to a large fortune which initially is designated to him and his sisters.
Saint John first appeared in the book in chapter 28. Before his appearance, we hear his name mentioned by his sisters and the servant Hannah. He made his sound before even appeared on stage. When the servant rejected Jane and Jane mourned in despair, he appeared and did his duty in admitting Jane. He played the role of savior to Jane here, and Jane as we would know later has to pay for it. Jane would always feel indebted to him and thus prone to be enslaved by him.
But even before this first stage, the master-slave relationship is implied in the language of the text. “If I were a masterless and stray dog, I know that you would not turn me from your hearth to-night”. Notice Jane’s diction. She uses “masterless” to describe the state of herself. Then when Saint John asked her to “rise, and pass before me into the house.” she with difficulty “obeyed him”. When Jane first encounters him, Jane was in a state of exhaustion and Famished. Saint John commands everything. She just obeyed. The food is given to her in way like feeding animals. “’Not too much at first — restrain her,’ said the brother; ‘she has had enough.’ And he withdrew the cup of milk and the plate of bread”. This is of course decision based on sense. But we must understand that a literary text is not a just a simple duplication of reality. “Metaphor, in fact, is never an innocent figure of speech”. This commencement in fact can be interpreted as a hint for the relationship between Jane and Saint John.
Then Jane recovered from her coma. During her recovery, the rivers make some comments about Jane. His sisters are very sympathy towards Jane. But Saint John is rather cold. He makes a comment about Jane when he talks about whether they will succeed in restoring her to her home. “I trace lines of force in her face which make me skeptical of her tractability”. Take notice the word “tractability”. It is defined by Roget’s Thesaurus in the following terms: “The quality or state of willingly carrying out the wishes of others”. This also implies Saint John’s attitude towards Jane. After Jane’s total recovery, she could “join with Diana and Mary in all their occupations; converse with them as much as they wished, and aid them when and where they would allow” her. After several weeks of congenial exchange with the female inmates of moor house, Jane took the courage to inquire about the employment he had promised to offer to her. Saint John said the following sentences first: “as you seemed both useful and happy here”, “render yours necessary.” Notice two words in his sentences, “useful and necessary”. Useful is seldom used to describe people except when the person talked about is in a position of servitude which is in essence the same as other material tools in the master’s eyes. Necessary is also diction of servitude. We can see that though Jane has a good relationship with his sisters, Saint John still unconsciously considers Jane in a servitude position. When he offers Jane the job of a school mistress, Jane accepts it with all her heart. The reason for her excitement is that “it was independent; and the fear of servitude with strangers entered her soul like iron.” While Saint John just “seemed leisurely to read her face”
On the other hand, Jane herself is quite aware of this kind of relationship between her and Saint John, for she is very sensitive to distinguish between servant and master. Even before her entry into moorhouse, she succeeds in detecting that Hannah is a servant not the sisters’ relative. After she was admitted into the house, when she mentioned Hannah, she always used servant to describe her. “With the servant’s aid, I contrived to mount a staircase”, “Hannah, the servant, was my most frequent visitor”. In fact before she reached the moorhouse, she had been trying to find a job as a servant. She felt it was degrading. In chapter 28, we find the word servant appears 8 times. When she first asks Saint John to help her find a job, she says the “I will be a dressmaker; I will be a plain-workwoman; I will be a servant, a nurse-girl, if I can be no better”. When her job begins, she is very pleased with finding a home at last. She emphasizes this return of home belong to herself. “My home, then, when I at last find a home”. She understands well that in moorhouse she is in the position of servitude at least in Saint John’s eye. So although her home is a small cottage with little furniture, she cherishes it for now she can be free and honest. When Mrs. Oliver suggests that Jane “is clever enough to be a governess in a high family”, Jane thinks that “I would far rather be where I am than in any high family in the land”. She in fact is asserting her independence.
Now we come to the turning point where Saint John discovers that Jane is in fact Jane Eyre and thus is entitled to a large fortune which in turn would give her power.
The first sentence Saint John uttered is in different tone now. “How very easily alarmed you are”! in the past, he would certainly says it in the following way：”you are easily alarmed”. Exclamatory sentence is emotional and it shows the affection between the interlocutors. And usually it is used between friends. It reveals the power relationship between the speaker and listener is at least equal. Now at least Saint John considers Jane to be his friends. And after he reveals the purpose of his visiting, he shows his affection for a friend by suggesting that he “would send Hannah down to keep you company” because “Jane look too desperately miserable to be left alone”.
While on Jane’s part, she is also aware of the change of power relationship between her and Saint John. In fact, in order to show the change, the author intentionally creates an unusual event. When Saint John finishes his revelation and is to go home, he is stopped by Jane. The narrator explains that “a sudden thought occurred to me”. She demands to know why Saint John would know the solicitor Mr. Briggs. This in fact is rather out of expectation and unreasonable. For she is in a state of excitement and thinking hard after knowing she is bestowed with so much wealth. We may wander where this sudden thought comes from. But if we read on, we would find out the reason is very simple. The narrator wants to show us in a quick and strong way that she is aware of the fact that the power relationship has changed. Jane for the first in their conversation speaks in imperative tone. “Stop one minute!”” she even exclaims:” No; that does not satisfy me!” she demands further, using the following strong tone. “You certainly shall not go till you have told me all,” “You shall! — you must!”
What’s more, Jane at this point mentions her sexual identity with confidence. When Saint John insists on telling her afterward, and says” But I apprised you that I was a hard man,” she claims that” I am a hard woman, — impossible to put off.” We should take notice of this interesting exchange of utterances. When Saint John says he is a hard man, he in fact has some sense of pride in claiming this fact. Jane consciously uses “woman” to counteract his pride. In using woman in parallel with man, Jane is declaring her equal standing with Saint John now. As regards to Jane herself, she has to repress her sexual identity for she is in a position of servitude. Now Jane sees the change of power relationship, she wants to show her side of womanhood with a strong sense of confidence.
However, their war of words doesn’t end at this point. Saint John continues to resist Jane’s demand. They then have the following conversation:
“And then,” he pursued, “I am cold: no fervor infects me.”
Whereas I am hot, and fire dissolves ice. The blaze there has thawed all the snow from your cloak; by the same token, it has streamed on to my floor, and made it like a trampled street. As you hope ever to be forgiven, Mr. Rivers, the high crime and misdemeanor of spoiling a sanded kitchen, tell me what I wish to know.”
Now Saint John to some extend senses Jane’s claim of her female power, but he doesn’t want to surrender so easily. He wants to “fight” with his cold personality. Unexpectedly, Jane plays this metaphor game with him and claims herself to be the counter of him. In fact their metaphors are not casually put forward, they represent their respective personality. At last Saint John give in, he tells Jane the whole story which connects Jane to him.
Why Saint John assiduously rejects Jane’s demand? The reason behind it is that he would not like to admit the kinsmanship between Jane and him. Because this would mean that Jane would become his equal in all aspects: not only is Jane is wealthy now, but she would also be from the same breed as him. Wealth can vanish, but natural bound is inseparable.
However, he at this point forms another plan, which we shall discuss in the following section. When he learns Jane’s plan of dividing the twenty thousand--- endowment into four pieces, he understands that Jane actually has much affection for him and his sisters. So he decides to carry out his plan of enslaving her by imposing on her his religious ideas.
Saint John and Rochester------ the two male who try to enslave Jane
How much of him was saint, how much mortal, I could not heretofore tell
CHAPTER XXXIV Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is a novel that explores Jane's growth and maturity. Marriage inevitably constitutes the most important part. So Mr. Rochester's and St. John's offer of marriage to Jane is significant and must be examined carefully for their underlining implications and what prospect they offer to Jane. I would argue in the following analysis that their proposals of marriage are to enslave Jane through the bond of marriage.
Different as they are, they have a significant similarity due to their male aspects. They both have a dominant personality, which is common for male and even is considered to be a male virtue. It is just this personality that frames them to be in a position of enslaving Jane.
However, Saint John and Rochester constitute two tests to Jane’s independence. Rochester symbolizes unbridled passion and St. John represents inhuman religious zeal. Jane is torn between passion and duty. For Rochester, she has strong passion; to Saint John, she senses a strong duty and thus she will guilty if she rejects him for he has saved her when she was reduced to a beggar-woman. Beside her sense of duty and guilty, there is another reason behind Jane’s temporary servitude to Saint John, which her inability to deal with “positive, hard characters, antagonistic” male.
Rochester offers to put Jane in a mistress position, for he actually had a legitimate wife living just in the attic of his own house then. Mistress often has the connotation of indulgence. Rochester in essence is offering Jane the indulgence of love and material wealth. If she marries to Rochester, she will have a large amount of wealth. She will be the mistress of Thornfield. She could have “surrendered to temptation”. Rochester in fact tests Jane’s independence by offering her the physical and emotional indulgence. Jane is well aware of this enslavement. She later reflects that she would “be a slave in a fool’s paradise at Marseilles” if she really married to Rochester at that time. Saint John on the other hand is another extreme. He just wanted a woman who could accompany him to India and be his assistant. He valued Jane in the way a master values a laborer slave. He was just in search for a tool, not a wife. He wouldn’t provide anything like Rochester would to Jane. He can only offer her a life that is as she puts it "this calm, this useful existence." By marrying St. John she would be stifling her passionate nature. Her passionate nature would ultimately die in the loveless and purposeful marriage he offered her. She tells him this also, “Because you did not love me. If I were to marry you, you would kill me." Coincidently, Jane later used the following sentence to describe her relationship with Saint John:” He has no indulgence for me”. Indulgence in fact is what Jane receives from Rochester.
Rochester’s test of indulgence on Jane
When Rochester decided to marry Jane, he wrote to his banker in London to send him certain jewels. He talked about his plan.
“I will myself put the diamond chain round your neck, and the circlet on your forehead, — which it will become: for nature, at least, has stamped her patent of nobility on this brow, Jane; and I will clasp the bracelets on these fine wrists, and load these fairy-like fingers with rings.”
This terrifies Jane. Jane immediately rejects this idea:” I shall not be your Jane Eyre any longer, but an ape in a harlequin’s jacket”. Then on their way to fetch the diamond, Rochester talks more about this theme. When he smiles, Jane “thought his smile was such as a sultan might”. Jane is not alone in thinking him as a sultan, for Rochester himself in fact has the same horrible thoughts.
“Is she original? Is she piquant? I would not exchange this one little English girl for the Grand Turk’s whole seraglio, gazelle-eyes, houri forms, and all!”
By alluding to the Grand Turk and his seraglio, he reveals his intention to enslave Jane after their marriage. This Eastern allusion pains Jane. Jane thinks it is serious enough for her to denounce it. She claims: “I’ll be preparing myself to go out as a missionary to preach liberty to them that are enslaved”. Jane also has her own plan for resisting the enslavement. She thinks about the letter her uncle has written to her and imagines that “she has a prospect of one day bringing Mr. Rochester an accession of fortune”. Then she “could better endure to be kept by him now”. So obviously Jane is quite aware of the enslavement she faces. She even has a plan to counter it. But she surrenders to the indulgence of love. It is until she finds out that Rochester has a wife alive that she escapes from Thornfield. Her escapement from Thornfield signifies her morality wins the battle against indulgence. She has passed her test of physical and material indulgence.
Saint John’s test of duty and guilty on Jane
Then she comes to moorhouse. Here she is first rejected by the housemaid and then coldly received by the master saint john. Of course she is lucky enough to have female cousins in the house who are congenial to her.
There is no hint when Saint John has formed his plan of marrying Jane. But we can be sure it is at least revealed when he reminds Jane that “your aspirations after family ties and domestic happiness may be realized otherwise than by the means you contemplate: you may marry”. It becomes even more obvious when he warns Jane of the danger of turn slothful. When Jane expresses her satisfaction with domestic endearments and household joys, he immediately declares that this world is not for the scene of fruition”, and thus Jane should “look beyond Moorhouse and Morton and sisterly society and selfish calm and sensual comfort of civilized affluence”. He in fact is preparing Jane to take on her errand as a missionary wife.
The he deceives Jane into learning Hindustani. Jane consents. The reason behind her consent is her strong sense of duty and guilty, which are important virtues for Victorian women. Jane values her relations much. When she learned that Saint John and his sisters are actually her cousins, she is quite excited. Actually she thinks it is more important than having got a large fortune. She clapped her hands in sudden joy — her pulse bounded, her veins thrilled. And she remarked: “It seemed I had found a brother: one I could be proud of, — one I could love; and two sisters, whose qualities were such, that, when I knew them but as mere strangers, they had inspired me with genuine affection and admiration.” For this reason, Jane would bear the temporary servitude.
While Jane becomes his student, she found him a very patient, very forbearing, and yet an exacting master. Jane finds herself in thrall. She describes her feeling in the following passage:
By degrees, he acquired a certain influence over me that took away my liberty of mind: his praise and notice were more restraining than his indifference.
Here the narrator herself speaks out the truth. Saint John in fact is trying to deprive her of intellectual liberty.
I never dared complain, because I saw that to murmur would be to vex him: on all occasions fortitude pleased him; the reverse was a special annoyance. ----here we see the similarity between rivers john and john reed. They like to torture others. it is just their means are different.
At last Saint John proposes to Jane in a tactless and passionless manner. He says, "It is not personal, but mental endowments they have given you: you are formed for labor, not for love." Jane after a struggle consents to go with him if she if free. She knows that he prizes her as a soldier would a good weapon. This as I have pointed out in the last section would mean that she becomes a slave of him. She would rather go with him as a sister. She understands that what Saint John need is not a wife, a woman, but in his own words, “a sufferer, a laborer, a female apostle”. As she remarked about his proposal: “I have a woman’s heart, but not where you are concerned; for you I have only a comrade’s constancy; a fellow-soldier‘s frankness, fidelity, fraternity, if you like; a neophyte’s respect and submission to his hierophant: nothing more”. Saint John is in Jane’s opinion trying to suppress her sexuality when he proposes her. She knows quite well that Saint John sees nothing attractive in her: not even youth—only a few useful mental points.
Through these two tests, Jane maintains her independence and grows mature.
But also implies to us her idea of real marriage, which the narrator herself reveals to us in the following sentences:
I hold myself supremely blest — blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company.
In essence, the narrator expresses her idea of marriage is for the male and female to have mutual respect and understanding. Indulgence of love without respect and duty without understanding and passion for each other can not be base for marriage.
Saint John and Helen---------two different devoted Calvinists
Saint John and Helen are both two minor characters in the novel. They both appear to be devoted Calvinism. They believe in restraint of worldly pleasure and emotion. They both are “composed though grave”; they both value the Calvinism virtue of self-endurance. These similarities are derived from their common belief---- Calvinism. But they are on the other hand completely different.
I would argue in the following paragraphs that the difference between Saint John and Helen is due to their respective gender. And their different gender leads to their different personality. This turn affect their perception in the novel. Helen can be construed as a female plus Calvinist, while Saint John as male plus Calvinist. I put their respective gender in front of their religious belief because the different gender actually shapes their respective character. I would argue that Helen as a female as well as a Calvinist is perceived as a victim of this inhuman religious belief, while Saint John a male as well as a Calvinist is perceived as an oppressor.
Helen as a female plus Calvinist
We knew little about Helen’s background, we just get a scattered picture from what she tells to Jane. Her mother died and she was sent to this boarding school at a very early age. Some critics have noticed that Jane lost her father and mother, while Helen was still under the rule of her father. That’s maybe part of the reason why Jane breaks the social code of male-dominance while Helen follows this code in extreme. () Helen thus is in conformity with the social expectation of female.
First Helen is very kind. Kindness as we know is often attributed as feminine character. We can see her kindness through the following event. When everyone in the school is taught not to speak to Jane, Helen despises this call and gets Jane some food. When she passed Jane she smiles to Jane. “What a smile! I remember it now, and I know that it was the effluence of fine intellect, of true courage; it lit up her marked lineaments, her thin face, her sunken grey eye, like a reflection from the aspect of an angel.”
Second she is grateful. Grateful is also an important virtue for female. When little Jane looked at the inscription and found she couldn’t comprehend it. She turned to Helen. And Helen told her about the institution. Although they lived a miserable life in the institution, Helen still used “Different benevolent-minded ladies and gentlemen in this neighborhood and in London” to describe the persons who donated to the institution. The idea that the father or a husband bears the burden of a family so that the daughter or wife should be obliged to him and obey his orders is rooted in people’s mind. So in fact, too grateful is to some extent an obstacle to female independence. Remember little Jane never thought that she as an orphan lived in Mrs. Reed’s house and contributed nothing in fact constitute her debt to Mrs. Reed. It is just this absence of gratitude that leads to Jane’s independent standing.
As regards to her religious devotion, Helen closely observes the Calvinistic teaching. She never complains even if the criticism is baseless or from over-scrupulous people who obviously have discrimination against her. Complaining or revenge is in strong confrontation with Calvinistic teaching. Miss Scatcherd often finds fault with her and punishes her in an “ignominious” way. In Jane’s words, if it were she, she would “wept and blushed”. But Helen did neither. “She bears it so quietly — so firmly”. She seldom reveals her real emotion, because she thinks it is the feature of Heathens and savage tribes and is against Christian teaching. After she heard what Jane had suffered in Gateshead, she just tried to smooth Jane, and asked her to forget and forgive. “Would you not be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with the passionate emotions it excited?” Jane in fact accepted her advice. So when Jane was the governess of Thornfield and she heard the news that Mrs. reed who had been extraordinarily cruel to her wanted to see her, she bore the pain of leaving her lover and to see a woman who had “cast her off ” before. She even addressed Mrs. Reed by “dear aunt”. As she said to herself “I had once vowed that I would never call her aunt again: I thought it no sin to forget and break that vow now”. It is Helen’s influence that helped Jane to transform from a revengeful person into a Christian with forgiveness.
Saint John----- male plus Calvinist
In discussing Saint John, I would like to first address his Calvinist dimension, because his male aspect would seem to be trivial if it is not that fact that he appears to be a faithful Calvinist.
Saint John of course appears to be a devoted Calvinist. “A large proportion of his time appeared devoted to visiting the sick and poor among the scattered population of his parish.” And no weather seemed to hinder him in these pastoral excursions. He is very faithful to his own duty which is an important character for a priest. Another feature of Calvinist teaching is to be restraint from passion. Saint John follows this teaching closely. He is always composed and behaves in a cold manner. When he talked about the state of Jane, he expressed his very rational and brief opinion, and “these opinions he delivered in a few words, in a quiet, low voice”. Even Miss Oliver, his lover remarked that he “is good, clever, composed, and firm”. When he tells Jane the fact that Jane’s father is his mother’s brother, Jane was very excited, but he just “stood before me, hat in hand, looking composed enough”. Still when he proposed to Jane and Jane rejected him, and “during that meal he appeared just as composed as usual”. Even when his lover tried to break the impasse, he still “stood, mute and grave”. John has passion only for what Jane describes as “an austere patriot's passion for his fatherland," and” his stern zeal." He is completely devoted to his religion.
He also tries hard to “control the workings of inclination and turn the bent of nature”, which is an important Calvinist teaching. When he tries to counsel Jane to resist firmly every temptation which would incline her to look back, he tells about his own experience of struggle between natural inclination and the so called God’s errand. Though here he is just trying to impose his religious belief on Jane and thus the purpose of this discourse is to enslave her mentally, we could still see through it his devotion to Calvinistic idea.
Then we shall examine the male aspect of him. As devoted as he is, he is not really a saint. “He yet did not appear to enjoy that mental serenity, that inward content, which should be the reward of every sincere Christian and practical philanthropist”. As Jane observed in the church when he gave his sermon, “throughout there was a strange bitterness; an absence of consolatory gentleness”. And Jane remarked that “I was sure St. John Rivers — pure-lived, conscientious, zealous as he was — had not yet found that peace of God which passed all understanding: he had no more found it, I thought, than had I” the cause for his turbulence is his ambition. Ambition turns him into a monster. As Saint John once said to Jane that he never intended to become a priest himself, it is under the order of his father that he became a clergyman. He reveals to Jane that he used to feel that he was intensely miserable, because he burnt for the more active life of the world. Then he combines his clergy career with his ambition. The result of this combination is a missionary③ life. So we can see that his devotion to god’ cause is prompted by his ambition of becoming a great follower of god’s cause. Obviously from colonialism point of view, this indicates his ambition of conquering colonies. And thus many critics have portrayed him as a stern colonist. Saint John himself knows that this is not in conformity with Christianity. So when Jane unintentionally mentions “ambitious”, he is “started”. In fact, it is this ambition that ruins his normal life. He could marry to the miss Oliver as a normal clergyman because her father does not look down upon him. He would also enjoy the delightful household joys of his sisters. But he abandons all this for the sake of his ambition.
His male aspect of dominating personality also pushes him to deviate from real Christian. Even when carries out his clergyman job, he in fact derives pleasure from feeling “his own strength to do and deny”, and is then “on better terms with himself”. It is true Christianity. A clergyman should enjoy his job because he spreads God’s love and care to all its followers.
When a Jane talks to him about giving a portrait of Mrs. Oliver to him, he has the following reaction: “The longer he looked, the firmer he held it, the more he seemed to covet it”. He even remarks “that I should like to have it is certain: whether it would be judicious or wise is another question”. He is not like Helen a real devoted Calvinist; instead he is rather a defective mortal. His religion is distorted by his dominating male personality.
Saint John is a quite complex character. As we have seen above, he plays an important role in the growth of the protagonist----Jane Eyre. On one hand he is so devoted to Christianity as to abandon nearly every sense of indulgence except perhaps the indulgence of endurance. But on the other hand he is to some extent a reflection of John Reed as well as Rochester. He has a dominating personality of commanding others. He tries to enslave Jane through marital relationship. He embodies the mixture of a male master and a devoted priest. He claims to serve only one cause---the cause of God. He doesn't feel it is guilty to deprive others of happiness. He manipulates Jane by her sense of duty and guilty. Everyone else is just a tool for his cause and ambition which he is very reluctant to admit. He evaluates them only by the extent to which they can endure pain.
In creating this character, Bronte to some extent inherits one of the great traditions of western literature-----tragedy. A character that has personalities in tension inevitably will make himself a tragic person. saint john with his calvinistic frenzy and male dominating and ambitous personality makes him a good example.