In Jane Eyre, at Lowood, Jane adopted a belief in Christianity from whom and why?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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During the Lowood episode of the novel, Jane comes into contact with two figures that have a major impact on her life, and especially her religious convictions. These figures are Maria Temple, the superintendent of the school, and Helen Burns, who becomes Jane's close friend at Lowood. What is important to note is the amount of space devoted to Helen and her philosophy of stoic acceptance and faith in God. It is clear that in spite of their friendship they are opposites in temperament - the fiery character that we saw displayed by Jane at Gateshead is stunned by the quiet acceptance of injustice that Helen suffers. Consider the following episode, when Helen is forced to wear a sign with the word "Slattern" on it:

The moment Miss Scatchers withdrew after afternoon-school, I ran to Helen, tore it off, and thrust it into the fire: the fire of which she was incapable had been burning in my soul all day, and tears, hot and large, had continually been scalding my cheek; for the spectacle of her sad resignation gave me an intolerable pain at the heart.

This quote is very important to analyse carefully, because it highlights the different types of religion that Helen and Jane have. Although Jane is undoubtedly influenced by Helen's brand of Christianity (marked by its stoical acceptance of suffering and expectation of the afterlife), Jane is unable to quell her thirst for justice and her raging against injustice, as shown in the quote. Helen is "incapable" of producing fire to rage against injustice, however Jane shows herself more than capable - not for her an early death and gazes heavenward, for she is determined to life life through her religion rather than deny it. Jane shows through her time at Lowood that she learns to balance her passions with duty thanks to her friendship with Helen Burns, but she never goes to the extreme that Helen endorsed.

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