Helen’s influence on Jane Eyre

How does Helen Burns impact Jane in Lowood?

The first half of the book Jane Eyre consists of Helen coming into Jane’s life. Jane needs someone to talk to and to have a friendly relationship with more than ever when she first arrives at Lowood. Since all the girls are in a routine already at Lowood, Jane is afraid to make the slightest mistake since she hasn’t made any companions yet. We see that Jane enters not-so-different conditions as staying with Mrs. Reed, but she seems safer being away from her aunt. Lowood institution is a harsh school with low-quality food, strictness from the teachers, and unprotective clothing from the outdoors. Although this does change, Jane deals with this for a bit when she enters Lowood. She meets Helen, who is different from Jane and I think it was good for Jane to hear different perspectives from Helen. For example, Helen says that Jane needs to not stand up for herself, and to obey her teachers, as we see Helen get beat by Miss Scatcherd with no objections. Helen has faith and convinces Jane to believe in that faith and love, instead of just longing for love by other humans. This influences Jane as she looks up to Helen as a faithful friend that treats her with love and respect. Unlike the school’s strict rules and Mr. Brocklehurst’s harsh force of power, Helen believes that she will find peace and her true home through God, instead of Mr. Brocklehurst telling them their purposes.

Although they are both orphans, Jane and Helen are different which can be why their relationship worked so well. Jane seeks justice and is passionate about gaining respect from her peers, as she never had this growing up. Helen seems to be a more mature Jane, as Helen is accepting of her punishments since she has peace with God and within herself. Helen’s presence and death in Jane’s life changed Jane’s angry ways as a girl and helped her form into a wise, amazing young woman. We then see that Jane grows up to be a teacher for two years after schooling, and realizes that there is more out in the world than just Lowood. Although Helen does not make it far as a character in Jane Eyre, she makes a huge impact on Jane as a young girl and as she lives through the changes around her. Jane is at least with Helen when she dies as she holds Helen in her arms, which makes me happy as a reader that they got to see each other one last time.

6 thoughts on “Helen’s influence on Jane Eyre

  1. Hi! I really like the connections you made between Jane’s upbringing with the Reeds and the Lowood School. Jane definitely deals with isolation and mistreatment from her elders throughout her life. I also agree that Jane and Helen help each other to grow and it’s exactly their differences that brings them together. Great post!

  2. With how long the book is, Helen seems easy to overlook but your post explains how she is still an important character. Being able to escape that abusive home environment with her aunt really allowed Jane to make vital connections with people. Even though her aunt hated her, she really did end up helping Jane a lot by sending her to the school.

  3. I really like all these connections you’ve made. I feel like Helen represents what a strong women was in that time and Jane admires this. Helen is an important character because she aids in Jane’s character development, and truly embraces her autonomy as a woman. Helen showed Jane you don’t need to go looking for esteem in others, you must find it within. Nice post!

  4. Childhood friends impact us more than we know. The people we hang out with and chose to spend time with during those times help shape who we are as people. Especially in a situation like Jane’s where she didn’t have anyone like that at home with the way everyone treated her. Great topic!

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