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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 8

Summary

Jane retires to a corner and weeps while the others go for tea. She fears that Brocklehurst's remarks will once again make her friendless. Helen brings her coffee and bread and offers comfort. She assures Jane that Brocklehurst himself is very unpopular, and as such, his words will have no lasting effects.

Miss Temple invites the two girls to tea in her room. She gives Jane an opportunity to speak in her own defense. Jane gives her an account of her life at Gateshead and mentions the apothecary, Mr. Lloyd. Miss Temple promises to write to him to clear Jane's name. Afterwards, Miss Temple and Helen discuss French and Latin literature at length, and Jane is impressed at Helen's knowledge. But Miss Temple also appears to be greatly concerned about Helen's health.

The next day, Miss Scatcherd ridicules Helen Burns by making her wear a label that says "slattern" on her forehead. Mr. Lloyd replies in a few days confirming Jane's account of her innocence, and Miss Temple communicates this information to the whole school. Jane is relieved and able to concentrate on her studies.

Notes

In the first section of this chapter, the readers find Jane trying to overcome the shame resulting from Brocklehurst's condemnation of her. Jane is confident that her intention "to be so good, and to do so much at Lowood" will sustain her. She persists in her desire "to make so many friends to earn respect, and win affection." This chapter shows that she has already made visible progress, and both Miss Miller and Miss Temple have begun to praise her.


Throughout the emotional turmoil caused by Brocklehurst's false accusation, one person who solidly supports Jane is Helen Burns. She comforts her by preaching Christian meekness. Helen Burns is Jane's teacher in one of the major lessons that she must learn; that of patience. Jane carries with her from Gateshead the delightful sense of victory over an adult, which she achieved by reacting against Mrs. Reed with anger. Jane feels that those who are provoked should not passively accept oppression, but retaliate. This belief has set a pattern in Jane's dealings with injustice. Helen admonishes Jane not to be resentful towards those who are cruel and unjust. Consequently, Jane narrates to Miss Temple the events of her childhood at Gateshead in a more impersonal manner. She puts "into the narrative far less gall and wormwood than ordinarily."

From Helen Jane learns also to restrain her passionate need for love and to endure loneliness with a Christian stoicism. Helen's advice to Jane for a happy life at Lowood is to be patient in the face of injustice and not to rely too much on human affection. Jane resolves to accept this counsel for the time being. As a result she is in a position to admit that she will not exchange "Lowood with all its privations for Gateshead and its daily luxuries." She enjoys learning a foreign language and painting.

Miss Temple realizes that Helen Burns is seriously ill and is likely to die quite soon. Jane wonders at the extraordinary life led by Helen's spirit "within a very brief span as much as many live during a protracted existence."

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