Confession time - can't put it down...
Posted by Susie on September 21, 1997 at 20:43:48:
In response to JE: Helen Burns, written by Cheryl on September 21, 1997 at 20:06:50
] OK, confession time. How many people cried the first time they read Jane Eyre and Helen died? I didn't on this read, but well remember my first read, picturing Jane asleep, her arms around the dead Helen. *sniff*
] What a lot Helen gave to Jane in such a short time! The most important, to my mind, is a different view of religion that would carry her throughout her life, and act as an antidote to the hypocritical and supercilious Mr. Brocklehurst--yuck! Although I will always chuckle at Jane's solution to avoid hell "I must keep in good health and not die." ;-)
] Helen opened Jane's mind to other possibilities in life, and gave her other means with which to cope. Jane would never have made it through her public humiliation without Helen's encouragement.
] My edition has a footnote which reads:
Helen Burns is based on Charlotte Bronte's sister Maria. CB insisted that she was true-to-life, despite the pathos of her story, and even fell short of reality: "I abstained from recording much that I remember respecting her, lest the narrative sound incredible"
Confession time: I haven't cried yet (even over the death of Helen Burns) but am having serious trouble putting this book down. I had forgotten what a compelling read it is, and how it grips one from the first page. I read Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte while on holiday, and although covering similar territory (trials and tribulations of a young governess)and providing an interesting picture of the social set-up, it is not nearly as powerful. It seems to be something to do with CB's insight into characters and emotions that engages the reader so immediately - would you agree?
The positive characters of Helen Burns and Miss Temple provide a necessary balance to the grim picture of childhood deprivation and callous treatment that Jane suffers in the Read household and at Lowood. It would otherwise be scarcely credible that she retains her spirit, even optimism, and capacity to feel love and affection.
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.