Jane Eyre and Helen Burns: Two Representations of Celebrity

Excellent reading for tomorrow’s lesson, Year 11!

Victorian Women Writers & Celebrity

[Alexis Gaither]

When Charlotte Brontë published Jane Eyre under her pseudonym “Currer Bell” in 1847, the story of the principled yet solitary orphan became an instant success (i). Brontë faced the criticisms and assessments that occur with such a success, just as Jane’s character is confronted with similar threats to her reputation throughout the novel. While the superiors of Jane’s childhood and the elite of her adulthood challenge her on many fundamental levels, Jane has a habit of remaining steadfast.

An illustration of Jane Eyre being admonished by Mr. Brocklehurst. An illustration of Jane Eyre being admonished by Mr. Brocklehurst.

This dedication to integrity in the face of public adversity could not have developed in Jane without the guidance of Helen Burns. Helen transforms Jane’s ability to accept misfortune and handle degradation in the public eye. Jane’s arrival at Lowood is under the pretense of a dysfunctional relationship with her guardian, which is only fueled by the strict procedures of her…

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