“Holy deep thinking/philosophizing, Batman!” I had forgotten how deep and in-depth a lot of the thoughts that young Jane had. Her conversations with her friend Helen Burns were pretty deep too.
Jane begins life with the Reeds who are begrudgingly caring for her. There is mental and physical abuse. The first touch of the gothic comes into the story at the Reed’s house too. When Jane is locked in the RED ROOM (where her uncle died), she may or may not have seen a ghost and has an episode that involves swooning/fainting (how gothic!). She eventually gets sent to a school for “delinquent” girls. There she meets dear, sweet Helen.
Helen’s views often conflict with Jane’s. Her opinions on justice and self-worth are those of a much older, wiser individual, and she often challenges Jane’s own comments (often made in the heat of the moment). Jane seems to take a lot of what Helen says to heart. While she still is more fiery than Helen ever is, she seems to begin to become more content in her situation rather than plot ways to lash out or focus on the injustice of her life. I think she finds a happy medium for sure. Is it blasphemous to say Helen seems a bit too soft and submissive? Perhaps a bit too perfect? Too much of a martyr? SPOILER! SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH!!!! I suppose that’s kind of the point. Helen is the angel who is perfect yet readily accepts others’ unjust criticisms. She literally becomes a martyr whose life changes Jane and whose death truly becomes a turning point in Jane’s life.
As I alluded to in my first Septemb-Eyre post, I kind of want to focus on my read with the end in mind. Having said that, I will remember a lot of what Jane learns during her time at school in order to see how it fits in with the end. After all, not only does Jane develop intellectually at school, she also develops emotionally and (dare I say) spiritually.
Helen: “I hold another creed…it extends hope to all; it makes Eternity a rest–a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last: with this creed revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never curses me too low; I live in calm, looking to the end.” Chapter 6
Jane: “You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so; and you have no pity.” Chapter 4
Jane: “…to gain some real affection from…any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it dash its hoof at my chest.” Chapter 8
I’m going to keep these in mind as I read to see how they come back. It seems like these are beginnings of philosophies that will affect how adult Jane handles life and its struggles.
Also…anyone else so appalled by the young Misses Brocklehursts?? Mr. Brocklehurst said that they were always so impressed by the humility of the girls at Lowood because they all seemed in awe of their clothing as if they’d never seen anything so fine. Well of course not! Your uncle degrades them to the lowest possible state! Then when they showed up at the school all fancy with bouncy, fancy hair and clothes and Mr. Brocklehurst (in their presence) tells the teachers to cut all the girls’ hair because it is too fancy and not plain enough for good Christian girls!?! Grrr…. If I were at Lowood I too would need a friend like Helen to keep me in check and keep me from doing something to get me expelled…