Jane Eyre


Discussion Questions

  1. How do Helen Burns and Miss Temple represent and prefigure the passionate love of Jane for Mr. Rochester that will ultimately translate into a passionate love of God?

Helen Burns, by her name alone, suggests much concerning the Christian religion. Her namesake, Helena, mother of Constantine, is said to have discovered the true cross upon which Christ was crucified. Her surname, Burns, signifies the passionate ardor with which she is aflame for the sake of Christ. Helen suffers all things for Christ just as Christ suffered all things for her. Miss Temple’s name similarly has a religious implication: If Helen Burns is a bright light, Miss Temple is like the house of God which contains the altar beside which Helen’s heart burns.

Both Helen and Miss Temple teach Jane of a heroic Christian virtue that will later come to Jane’s rescue when she faces the awful temptation of succumbing to her love for Rochester in an unlawful way. Jane’s passion for Rochester is honest and good, but because he is already married, she cannot in honesty live with him. Therefore, she realizes that she must direct her passion elsewhere, and as every part of her former life drops away from her, she is left only with an awareness of God. Thus, she places her passion in God’s hands and allows Him to direct her, just as Helen and Miss Temple taught her to do. Jane becomes a true spiritual daughter of Christ in this way, and is ultimately rewarded for her good behavior by being reunited with Rochester in lawful matrimony following the death of his wife and his acceptance of the penance/punishment of being blinded.

  1. Why does Jane choose, in a sense, Rochester over St. John Rivers?

Jane cannot be St. John Rivers’ wife for the simple reason that he is more “marble,” as she says, than man. He is an austere minister, a man of both empathy and sympathy, yet he is exacting and unyielding; his mercy is of a cold and calculated kind. His religious...

Sign up to continue reading Discussion Questions >

Essays About Jane Eyre