By: Charlotte Bronte
1. “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so somber, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercises was now out of the question. I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed” (Bronte 1). Ch. 1
These are the opening statements to the novel. Within this passage, a part of Jane’s character has already been revealed. At first it appears that she is saddened by the fact that she is not able to go for a walk outside, due to the disappointing tone that is exerted through her description of the clouds as ‘somber’ and the rain as ‘penetrating’. This shows that Jane might be misleading throughout the novel, with a seemingly conflicting personality, suggesting that she may be an unreliable narrator. This passage also subtly reveals Jane’s ages; although, not specifically. “…my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed” only vaguely suggests that she may be younger than these characters. However, if seen in a different perspective, it may already establish the relationship between Jane and those characters.
It is already evidently stated that Jane does not get along with Bessie, the nurse; Jane is often reprimanded by her apparently. From the diction of Bronte, choosing the word ‘inferiority’ to differentiate Jane and the Reeds, it might suggest that the Reeds are of some importance and Jane is lower in such significance to them. That may explain the humility that is mentioned. Later, it is revealed that Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed are all hostile toward her, so that may be the physical inferiority of Jane.
2. “‘I am very happy, Jane; and when you hear that I am dead, you must be sure and not grieve: there is nothing to grieve about. We all must die one day, and the illness which is removing me is not painful; it is gentle and gradual: my mind is at rest. I leave no one to regret me much: I have only a father; and he is lately married, and will not miss me. By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings. I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well in the world: I should have been continually at fault.’ ‘But where are you going to, Helen? Can you see? Do you know?’ ‘I believe; I have faith: I am going to God’” (Bronte 84). Ch. 9
For a young child, Helen Burns shows grand maturity, already accepting death as a part of life and showing no fear of it. Her words of graceful serenity and words that often refer to the Lord definitely highlight the pure faith that she possesses. From this conclusion, she shows opposite to both Jane and Mr. Brocklehurst, who, along with Helen, may both be representations of the theme of religion or Christianity in the novel.
Jane shows little faith and is ignorant of the subject of faith, as opposed to Helen, who shows a deep understanding of her faith. That is why Jane is stubborn when Helen tries to explain to her about her moral values. When Jane was upset towards Miss Temple earlier in the novel, Helen tried to tell Jane about the principles taught in the New Testament of the Bible, which states, as according to Helen, “‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you’” (Bronte 60). However, Jane’s obstinacy prevents her from truly understanding Helen’s reference and her intentions. This contrast can be seen at the end of this passage, where Jane asks Helen where she is going and Helen already ‘knows’ that she is going to God, or heaven.
Mr. Brocklehurst and Helen may...