Jane Eyre: Helen Burns Character Analysis

721 words - 3 pages

In Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jane encounters several characters during the stages of her life. Some of the characters appear in more than one stage of her life such as Mrs Reed, Bessie, and Rochester. There are other characters who are only there for her for a short period of time such as St John, Miss Temple, and Helen Burns. Although these characters are only in Jane’s life for a short time, they each have a great impact on Jane, especially Jane’s encounter with Helen at the Lowood Institution. Helen Burns makes a grave impact on Jane’s life, at Lowood and continuing on for the rest of her life.
Helen strives to live a Christian lifestyle despite the difficulties in her life. She is continually punished by her teacher, Miss Scatcherd. Helen is publicly insulted by her “Burns, you poke your chin most unpleasantly; draw it in” (Brontë 64) she continues to critique everything Helen does, from the way she stands to how she holds her head. Helen is physically punished for not washing properly when the water was frozen that morning. Helen continues to exemplify a Christian moral by taking the punishment without oppose or question, she has a “respectful courtesy” (Brontë 65) throughout her torture. “The teacher instantly and sharply inflicted on her neck a dozen strokes with the bunch of twigs” (Brontë 65). Helen stays strong and did not shed a tear. When Jane questions Helen on her dislike for Miss Scatcherd she replies with a humble remark “It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and, besides the Bible bids us return good for evil” (Brontë 66). Helen even goes to the extent to blame herself for the punishments she receives from Miss Scatcherd, “I am, as Miss Scatcherd said, slatternly; I seldom put, and never keep, things in order; I am careless; I forget rules; I read when I should learn my lessons” (Brontë 67). The meekness and humility Helen displays are some of her several Christian attributes. Helen teaches...

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