In Jane Eyre, explain the influence of the following people in Jane's life: Mrs. Reed, Miss Temple, Helen, Mr. Brocklehurst, St. John, and John. How do these people effect her life?

Expert Answers
mjush eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs. Reed, John Reed

These two make her early life a nightmare. she is treated unfairly and like an animal rather than a human and even one of the maids tells her she should be thankful for what she does have. At this young ahe, we see she already has a rebellious spirit and sees that she should be treated better than this.


Mr. Brockelhurst

Mr. Brockelhurst cares little for the individuals and most likely thinks he is doing good and God's work, but is really not much better than the Reeds. She fears him because he can ruin the character she has shown at the school. Fir the first time people seem to like and respect her and she sees how quickly someone could take that away from her.

Miss Temple and Helen

At the school, these two show interest and loyalty to Jane and are positive influences in Jane's life. Even though Helen has the same rebellious spirit, Jane learns this is something she respects and someone as well respected as Miss Temple liked both of these girls. This gives her self worth as well nurtures her fighting spirit and it gives her courage to go on her own.

St. John

His name and demeanor imply goodness and it should seem initially she should marry him but this is the ultimate rebellion for her. Rather than marry him just because she could, she realizes she does not love him and should have better. Even though she respects him and his family, she will not let this man have the power over her life to make her do something she does not want to do.

dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs. Reed, John Reed, and Mr. Brockelhurst demonstrate to Jane the nature of hypocrisy in her early life.  Mrs. Reed, who has promised to care for the child upon her father's death, is filled with resentment at having to do this, and takes every opportunity to belittle and criticize Jane while overlooking her own children's bad behavior.  Her son John especially is allowed to bully Jane mercilessly.  Mrs. Reed arranges to send Jane to a boarding school for orphans whose proprietor, Mr. Brockelhurst, is interested more in profit than the orphans' well-being, and starves the girls to save their souls.  From these experiences, Jane learns to identify falseness, and develops an independent spirit.

Miss Temple and Helen are positive influences in Jane's life.  As the superintendant of Lowood School, Miss Temple defies Mr. Brockelhurst's draconic rules and genuinely cares about the girls.  She is a mentor to Jane, instrumental in her becoming a teacher at the school and eventually finding a position as a governess.  Helen Burns, through her kind and patient nature, shows the more rebellious Jane the importance of these qualities.

St. John's influence on Jane is perhaps the most paradoxical.  He is kind to her but detached, and the driving element in his life is duty.  When she refuses to marry him, Jane realizes and affirms the importance of love and passion in her life.

Read the study guide:
Jane Eyre

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question