Helen Burns models forgiveness in Jane Eyre and tries to teach the angry young Jane to be more forgiving. When Jane is outraged that Miss Scatcherd unfairly flogs Helen, Helen is forbearing, saying that one must forgive because it is the Christian way. Helen keeps her eyes on heaven, she says, which helps her bear injustices on earth.
Later, Jane forgives Rochester for disguising himself as a gypsy to deceive her. She also forgives him for deceiving her about his marriage to Grace Poole. Though she knows she now has a hard path ahead of her, when Rochester asks her pardon, she gives it:
“Jane, I never meant to wound you thus. If the man who had but one little ewe lamb that was dear to him as a daughter, that ate of his bread and drank of his cup, and lay in his bosom, had by some mistake slaughtered it at the shambles, he would not have rued his bloody blunder more than I now rue mine. Will you ever forgive me?”
Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot.
However, this forgiveness does not mean that she will stay under the same roof with him.
St. John Rivers forgives Jane for refusing his marriage offer. As Jane puts it,
he was superior to the mean gratification of vengeance: he had forgiven me for saying I scorned him and his love . . .
It is characters with less moral fiber, such as Mrs. Reed, who cannot forgive even when they themselves are forgiven.