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Jane Eyre | Study Guide

Charlotte Brontë

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Chapter 8

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 8 of Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre | Chapter 8 | Summary



When her punishment is over, Jane crouches in a corner, overcome with grief because she's sure everyone will shun her. Helen arrives and tries to comfort Jane, pointing out that, because Mr. Brocklehurst is disliked, the other students are unlikely to believe him. She advises Jane not to worry about what others think of her as long as her conscience is without guilt. Jane says, "If others don't love [her, she'd] rather die." Helen tells Jane to focus less on "the love of human beings" and more on the "kingdom of spirits." Angels, Helen says, "recognize our innocence." Jane "calm[s]" but feels "concern" when Helen coughs.

Miss Temple invites Jane and Helen to her room, where they later have tea. At Miss Temple's prompting, Jane recounts the tale of her childhood with Mrs. Reed including Mr. Lloyd's visit after the incident in the red-room. Miss Temple, who knows Mr. Lloyd, says she'll write to him, and, should he confirm Jane's account, she'll tell the school of Jane's innocence. At her request a kitchen servant brings tea for her and the two girls, and she treats them to some seed cake. Afterward Miss Temple and Helen Burns discuss several topics, including history and nature, in a conversation that dazzles Jane. That night Miss Scatcherd finds Helen's belongings in disarray, and the next day she punishes Helen for being disorganized. She tapes a paper with the word slattern on it to Helen's head and makes her wear it all day. When Miss Scatcherd leaves for the day, Jane tears off the paper and throws it into the fire. A week later, having heard from Mr. Lloyd, Miss Temple announces that Jane has been completely cleared of the charges made against her. Jane plunges forward with her studies with renewed enthusiasm, happier at Lowood, despite its flaws and deprivations, than she ever was at Gateshead.


Helen tries to convince Jane that, in her single-minded focus on gaining the approval of others, she is neglecting the importance of self-approval. Jane's accomplishments should make her feel proud of herself and give her the confidence to make her own judgment about whether she is worthy to be loved, including self-love and self-respect. Helen wants Jane to understand that, if she relies on the judgment of others to define her worth, she won't be happy because she can never please everyone. Jane doesn't share or completely understand this attitude, or Helen's spirituality, but she respects it. Helen's frequent mention of the next life, her cough, and the concern that both Jane and Miss Temple feel for her foreshadow the possible loss of this gentle friend.

Mr. Brocklehurst's condemnation is an obstacle to Jane's goal of gaining love and respect. The intervention of Miss Temple, by writing to Mr. Lloyd, offers a solution to Jane's problem. Jane's delight and admiration as she listens to the deep intellectual conversation between Helen and Miss Temple inspire her to persevere in her pursuit of knowledge. Miss Temple's announcement about Jane's innocence gives Jane's confidence an additional boost.

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