Volume 1, Chapter 6

Synopsis of Volume 1, Chapter 6

Jane has made friends with her fellow-pupil Helen Burns, who shares her enthusiasm for reading. Helen is very untidy and is constantly in trouble with her class teacher, but has been identified by Miss Temple as a pupil of exceptional intelligence. Helen has a very realistic view of her deficiencies in the eyes of the school and thinks that Jane will find herself in a similar situation.

Commentary on Volume 1, Chapter 6

Charles I by Daniel Mytensthe reign of Charles I … and ship-money Charles I (1600-49) succeeded to the English throne in 1625, but after the English Civil War of 1642-46 was deposed by Oliver Cromwell leading an army loyal to Parliament and subsequently executed. Tonnage, poundage and Ship Money were duties and taxes that brought Charles into conflict with Parliament.

Northumberland A large county in the north-east of England, immediately south of Scotland. Helen's surname refers to the northern (and Scottish) word for streams.

the Bible bids us return good for evil In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ exhorts his followers not to meet evil with evil (see Matthew chapters 5 - 8). This is an expression of Helen's submissiveness and stoicism, so different from Jane's instincts of rebellion and defiance of injustice.

like Felix … season Felix was the Roman governor of Judaea before whom Paul is arraigned in Acts chapter 24. He is affected by Paul's teaching about his faith, but delays applying it to his own situation: As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, 'That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.' (Acts 24:25)

I like Charles By contrast with the Puritanical Cromwell, Charles was a notable patron of the arts with broad religious sympathies, including towards Roman Catholicism, which made him an object of suspicion in post-Reformation, Protestant England. He was also admired by many, including some of his opponents, for his courage and dignity at his execution.

We are and must be … whence it came it will return Helen's beliefs have something in common with those of the Greek philosopher Plato, who argued that the soul never dies, and that, when at death it leaves its temporary home, it returns to the Creator – who for Helen, of course, would be the Christian God.

Read the New Testament In her first conversation with Brocklehurst (see Chapter 4), Jane reveals her preference for the Old Testament. Helen Burns begins to lead Jane towards Christ's teachings in the New Testament.

Love … use you A quotation from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: see Matthew 5:44

Investigating Volume 1, Chapter 6
  • What are the main contrasts in personality and behaviour between Jane and Helen Burns?
  • What kind of example does Helen offer Jane?
  • What difference does Helen's friendship make to Jane's life at Lowood?
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