Study Guide

Jane Eyre Volume 1, Chapter 6

By Charlotte Brontë

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Volume 1, Chapter 6

  • Everyone gets up before dawn again and it’s so cold that the water inside is frozen, so they can’t wash. At least the porridge is okay this morning.
  • Jane starts having to actually do lessons with everyone else, which include sewing.
  • While she’s sewing, Jane watches another group of girls doing English history lessons with Miss Scatcherd. Remember that teacher who always picked on you for every little thing you did, including breathe? Well, that’s how Miss Scatcherd is with Helen Burns. She doesn’t like the way Helen stands, or the way she holds her head, or anything, even though Helen’s really smart and good at her lessons.
  • Eventually Miss Scatcherd gets angry enough about whatever it is that’s biting her that she whips Helen’s neck with a bundle of twigs.
  • Jane wanders around alone during the free time in the evening, but she doesn’t really feel bad; after all, her home at Gateshead was also horrible.
  • Jane finds Helen and talks to her, learning her name for the first time. She can’t understand why Helen isn’t more upset about how Miss Scatcherd treats her; she knows she’d freak out if she had been in Helen’s place.
  • Helen is disgustingly good and patient and reminds Jane about turning the other cheek and all that sort of thing. We’re guessing she’ll die young, because nobody this perfect ever lives to be forty.
  • Helen agrees with all Miss Scatcherd’s criticisms of her, which Jane thinks is just stupid, since Helen is obviously great. Helen admits to daydreaming quite a bit, but we don’t think that’s a fault. Plus, she daydreams about important history-lesson-type stuff, like why Charles I was a bad king.
  • Helen does admit that Miss Temple treats her differently from Miss Scatcherd, but she says that’s her own fault for being a better person when Miss Temple is around. Jane thinks, and we agree, that maybe Miss Temple is just a better teacher and a nicer person than Miss Scatcherd, but this hasn’t occurred to Helen.
  • Helen’s "love your enemies" stuff starts to drive Jane crazy, and so Jane tells her about how impossible it is for her to love that harpy Mrs. Reed. After hearing the whole story, Helen’s only answer is that Jane shouldn’t let herself get so obsessed with being angry at Mrs. Reed.
  • We don’t know how exactly that’s supposed to work, but Helen doesn’t get a chance to explain, because she just got in trouble for something else.

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