This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. Today it’s all about Jane Eyre’s Friends. Jane will tell us all about her friends in her own words.
A friend is someone you can trust and a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, usually exclusive of intimate or family relations. You must both enjoy each others’ company and support each other, too.
I have had very few friends in my life. While I was living with my Aunt Reed, there was only one person, Bessie, their young servant, whom I could call a friend. She told me stories by the stove in the kitchen, looked after me when I was ill, and consoled me when I was depressed. Betty once told me, when I was sick and sad that, ‘God is a friend to the poor orphan child.’ She was the only person I missed at that cold house.
When I was at Lowood, I had some more friends. Helen Burns, a young girl my own age, whose family were from Northumberland. Her mother had died, and her father had remarried a young girl, who did not care for Helen, so she was sent to Lowood.
Helen sustained me during the first months in my new home, when I frequently cried. She did not vex me with questions. Helen was patient, sitting beside me, and remaining silent until I was ready to speak.
When I told her I was sad because Mr. Brocklehurst had humiliated me, she chastised me for being too impulsive, too vehement, and too feeble. She reminded me that there were guardian angels to help us, and that I should not let hatred get the better of me. Helen had calmed me, and comforted me. I used to rest my head on her shoulder, put my arms round her waist, and feel grateful that I had a real true friend, at last.
Helen was faithful, and never ill-humoured with anyone, however unpleasantly they treated her. She believed her strength and endurance would lead her into heaven, when her time on Earth was over.
She was called to heaven too soon, too young. Miss Temple found her in my arms one sad June morning. My face against Helen Burns’s shoulder, and my arms round her neck. I was asleep, and Helen was dead.
Even while she was dying, her last words had been to comfort me. She told me not to grieve because she was not in pain, and she did not mind dying, because it meant that she would escape the great sufferings life would bring her, and because she would be united with God, who would look after her.
She was buried at Brocklehurst Churchyard. , covered by a grassy mound. Fifteen years after her death, I returned to find a grassy mound. I had a grey marble tablet placed on the spot, inscribed with her name, and the word ‘Resurgam.’
I made other friends at Lowood. I often took walks in the woods in summer with Mary Ann, I tried my best to make friends, earn respect and win affection at Lowood. I was also well received by my fellow-pupils. Those my own age treated me as an equal, and I wasn’t not molested by any. However, I never had a friend like Helen again. If I have a daughter, I’ll certainly call her Helen.
Miss Miller and Miss Temple were pleased with me because I was a good student who pleased my teacher by reaching the head of my class.
I also considered Miss Temple, who had become the superintendent at the seminary, a friend because she was my counsellor and guide while I was at Lowood. I owe the best part of my acquirements to her. She encouraged me in my studies, and her friendship and company had been my greatest comfort. She was the closest I have ever had to a mother figure, so I will never forget her either. I became a teacher thanks to her encouragement and direction.
I was devastated when she left to marry and move to a distant country. It was then I advertised for the position of governess.
I got on very well with all the servants at Thornfield Hall. Mrs. Fairfax always treated me with friendliness, and so did Leah, the young maid, and even Sophie, Adele’s French nurse.
Adele was my boisterous pupil, although she did not excel in her studies, she tried hard. She was always kind and respectful to me. When I married Edward I took her out of her strict boarding school, where Edward had sent her when I left. She stayed at home, for a time, until I found her a more indulgent school. We have become good friends over the years. Adele is a pleasing and obliging companion: docile, good-tempered, and well-principled.
Mr. Rochester professed to be my friend, before he declared his love. He used to call me ‘my little friend’ and confessed many events to me, such as his relationship with Adele’s mother, the French opera singer, Celine Varens, and his wild years as a bachelor. I saved his life from a fire in his room one night, and he also called me when his friend, Mr. Mason was attacked in the attic. We enjoyed each other’s company and discussed many matters. Although he was my master, we were friends of a sort, at first, until we fell in love. Then friendship became something more powerful and absorbing.
When I left Eyre Hall, after discovering Mr. Rochester was already married, I had absolutely no friends, no family, and not a single shilling to my name.
I was fortunate to find the Rivers in Morton. Diana, Mary, and St. John, were kind to me, before they knew I was their cousin. I was starving, cold, sick, and penniless, when I arrived on their doorstep in search of charity. They took me into their home, nursed me, fed me, and found me a job as a teacher and a small house to live in. I thank God he helped me find them when I was close to death.
I have not felt the need for friends since I married Edward, because he is everything to me. He is my husband, my companion, my lover, and my friend.