Volume 1, Chapter 9

Synopsis of Volume 1, Chapter 9

As winter gives way to spring, conditions at Lowood seem to improve, but then the school is struck by an epidemic of the deadly typhus. Many girls die, but Jane remains fit and enjoys the relaxed regime while the staff are busy nursing the sick. Helen Burns is also ill, but with tuberculosis, and she finally dies in Jane's arms.

Commentary on Volume 1, Chapter 9

fog-bred pestilence … breathed typhus through its crowded schoolroom and dormitory Typhus epidemics were not uncommon in the nineteenth century and were especially lethal in closed communities, such as that of Lowood School. At this time, typhus was thought to be spread by a miasma, a kind of cloud of disease: hence the use of the term ‘fog-bred'.

the drug and the pastille Typhus would be treated with aromatic medication and the school is fumigated by burning pastilles giving off aromatic smoke.

going to God Helen regards her death as the last part of her journey to God. Compare her earlier comments on the subject, especially what she says about the return of the spirit to its Creator: see Going deeper: Volume 1, Chapter 6

fifteen years … Resurgam (Latin) I will rise again: a reference to Helen's belief in Resurrection and the afterlife. Jane erects the stone when she has been married to Rochester for about five years.

Investigating Volume 1, Chapter 9
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