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Helen's Significance

The first blog entry I wrote on Jane Eyre had to do with religion. When I found this article--"Bronte's JANE EYRE" by Mark Reger--I figured I might as well come full circle. Though this isn't only about religion, it does discuss Helen's importance in Jane Eyre's life. One of the ways in which she is important is through religion.

"Helen provides an alternative to the only Christianity Jane has known. Helen does show Jane Christian resignation, but, more significantly, she shows her a more merciful and loving Christianity as well..." (214).

Up until Helen leads Jane to know otherwise, Jane only knows about the fire and brimstone aspect of religion--as this author also points out. It is Helen that opens Jane up to true faith, not just faith by fear and subversion.

"Helen explains what Jane does not realize--that having Brocklehurst for an enemy will lose her no friends at Lowood, where 'he is little liked'" (214).

The author explains that though Helen believes in the ideal of "passivity," she is not. She talks to Jane when she's not supposed to to tell her that she'll be fine. If Helen had not broken this rule set by Brockelhurst, Jane would have been under the impression that she will be alone. Lowood would become her own personal hell as Gateshead did. Helen saves her from having to go through this.

"Almost immediately Jane begins to alter her behavior" (213).

The author explains how Helen influences Jane when it comes time for her to tell Miss Temple the truth about her life at Gateshead in order to clear her name. If it wasn't for Helen, Miss Temple very well could have thought Brocklehurst was right about Jane being a lier. Jane, however, heeded Helen's advice that she needed to be more "subdued."

Furthermore, even though Helen is not mentioned much after her death in the novel, she is still important to Jane. I'll admit that I didn't pick up on this particular fact until I read this essay. In chapter 9 of Jane Eyre, Jane visits Helen's grave 15 years later. As the author points out, this would be after Jane has married Rochester.

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Comments (2)

often, religion was used to scare children into being good, telling them they were wicked and that God would punish them. But people should both love and fear God. Jane wonders how Helen can just sit there and take all the abuse. You are right: Helen is not being passive. She is practicing the christian virtue of "turning the other cheek". People reep what they sow. Helen's abusers will get theirs in the afterlife, for God is to be the judge. Helen had a profound affect on Jane's life, as she was the really the first person to show her kindness. Wanting to emulate her, Jane heeds Helen's advice and becomes subdued, less out-spoken (at least until she meets Rochester...).

Kevin "Kelo The Great" Hinton:

I do think that Helen is somwhat a pillar to Jane in her childhood. THe loss of her meant the loss of some of the goodness in Jane.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 31, 2007 2:11 PM.

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