The Character of Helen Burns in Jane Eyre: While Helen Burns had no major role in the novel, Jane Eyre, she is an important one as she helps Jane evolve during her time at the Lowood School. Helen died of consumption in Jane’s arms. The character of Helen is passive with a dignity about her.
Her character serves as a foil for Jane as well as Mr. Brocklehurst. Helen’s character was based on Charlotte Brontë’s sister Maria, who died at a very young age. Helen’s character is a flat character which is equivalent to a martyr.
Foil for Mr. Brocklehurst
In the case of Mr. Brocklehurst, he represents a form of religion which aims at removing the pride and pleasure of a person in order to be completely religious. He uses religion to wield his power.
However, Helen’s character represents a form of Christian who stresses that tolerance and acceptance is the key to religion. Helen ignores Mr. Brocklehurst’s antics and turns away when he is being unpleasant as she did not like to confront him.
Foil for Jane
Like Jane, heeled is also an orphan at Lowood School. She trusts that there will be a happiness in her life and she is an optimist. Jane feels that she needs to find happiness at the very moment who leads to her being disappointed many times. Helen is passive and submissive while Jane is headstrong and stubborn.
The differences in their characters bring out how their own self-has evolved. Helen forgives people easily while Jane holds grudges. The latter is not afraid to show her anger while Helen is always calm.
The Character of Helen Burns in Jane Eyre
For example, when Jane was called to the front of a punishment after breaking her slate, she was very angry. However, we can see that previously, Helen just took unjust punishments and did not utter a single word against Miss Scatcherd singling her out for beatings.
Friendship Between Helen and Jane
Helen tries to help Jane get rid of her misery. She always patiently listens to Jane talking about Mrs. Reed’s actions and tries to help her see reason and make the situation better, but in vain. She is the moral compass for the two and is a major influence on Jane in her later life when she deals with Mr. Rochester.
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