While Stranger Things focuses on a core group of friends in Hawkins, Indiana getting through many events involving The Upside Down and the creatures that come with it, one of the main protagonists of this series is Eleven, born Jane Ives—the girl with amazing abilities and a love for Eggos. Let’s break down a character analysis of Eleven AKA Jane.
Yeah, that’s right! You better run! She’s our friend, and she’s crazy!
Eleven AKA “El” was raised inside Hawkins National Laboratory where she was experimented on for her psychokinetic abilities. Dr. Martin Brenner kidnapped her as a newborn. She escapes from the lab. Not too long after, she is found by Dustin, Lucas, and Mike. This is during the same time their friend Will goes missing!
Once it is revealed that she has powers, Mike believes that she can help find Will. While Lucas and Dustin were a bit apprehensive about her, Mike felt differently, and they would grow a bond. This is also when she would learn to love Eggo waffles.
During this season, El was withdrawn, timid and cautious around people. However, she would be protective of those she cared about especially, Mike. The two of them would grow to be in a romantic relationship, eventually.
During her experiments in the lab, El contacted a creature from another dimension. This contact opened a portal to that dimension. This same creature would get into Hawkins Middle School, and she would have to destroy it, mysteriously vanishing back into the Upside Down.
We find out that Eleven does survive her encounter with the creature from the Upside Down. She goes back to Mike’s house but can’t go inside because the authorities are looking for her. El is forced to run and hide. She does this for a month, having to kill animals in the woods to survive. Not too long after that, she finds a box filled with food and Eggos. El discovers that it is Jim Hopper who left her the food. After some convincing, El lives there in Jim’s cabin which belonged to his grandfather. He tells her rules to keep her safe and they rigged a trip wire by the tress in case there is an intruder.
While being hidden in the cabin, El starts to feel more frustrated with not being able to see her friends. Deciding to find out more about herself and her mother Terry Ives, she defies Jim’s orders and leaves the cabin. While trying to find out more about her past, she locates Kali and goes to Chicago. They recognize each other as sisters, and this is where El goes through her emo/goth period. Kali helps El control her powers better while they are together.
While engaging in some behavior that wasn’t her norm, El realizes that she can’t leave her friends behind and goes back to Hawkins. This time, El helps save her friends from the creature called the Mind Flayer. After this ordeal, Jim will adopt her as Jane Hopper, and there she has a moment of normalcy while at the Snow Ball dance with Mike.
In this season, Eleven—now Jane—is seen struggling with not only herself but also her past. While she is still a bit unsure, she is lonely and isolated, and this leads to her acting out in ways. Finding the info on her mom convinced her that she needed to leave. El/Jane struggles like many teens trying to find her place in the world but ultimately realizes her friends and Jim were important to her.
…Emotions can make it speed up or slow down. We are all time travelers if you think about it.
We are now in the summer of 1985. El has a growing romantic relationship with Mike, but she is also becoming good friends with Max. Eleven’s friendship with Max grows. She is starting to see herself outside of her powers and outside of Max. El is starting to find more things she enjoys.
This is also where El has her issues with Mike, who lied to her about something she didn’t particularly like.
While going through this, the Mind Flayer returns and uses proxies or the Flayed to cause more havoc and terror in Hawkins. Max’s brother Billy becomes a member of the Flayed, and El has to battle him. During this battle, she also suffers a stroke and loses her powers.
This season represents both much growth for her, but also substantial loss. She loses her powers, and also Jim by the end of this. She also loses the place she called home as she moves across the country with Joyce, Will, and Jonathan. By the end of the season, I really feel for Eleven as we can see her once again trying to deal with what the creatures from the Upside Down have done to her and her friends.
In Season 4, everything is different for El. While she is with Will, Jonathan, and Joyce, she is grieving and missing Hopper and her boyfriend Mike. She is also struggling to adapt to Lenora Hills, as this is the first time she is in school.
El is bullied by some of her classmates, especially this girl named Angela. Angela reminded me of a lot of bullies that got away with it by being popular. After an incident with Angela that I praised her for, she is told by Dr. Owens that a new threat is in Hawkins. She goes with him to see Dr. Brenner where they help her restore her powers and become stronger.
While participating in these experiments, she learns that a situation she thought she was responsible for was actually caused by One AKA Henry Creel. He killed all her fellow test subjects in 1979, and she banished him to the Upside Down. Henry would become Vecna, the threat of this season. El meets up with Will, Mike, Jonathan, and Argyle in the desert, where she is able to assist her friends in Hawkins and the Upside Down thanks to her psychic projection, but she can’t prevent Vecna’s ultimate plan.
A Change Coming
At the end of Season 4, Eleven is reunited with Jim, who she didn’t know is still alive, having been locked away in a Russian prison. We also see Hawkins being merged with the Upside Down. I felt bad for Elevn during a good chunk of this season. Losing her parental figure, her friends, and her boyfriend was hard. Having to adjust to a new place, school, and her surrogate family who didn’t seem to really see how much she was suffering all took its toll on her.
Her having to be experimented on again and see traumatic memories seemed to be a lot, as well, but this was the one time we didn’t really see Eleven win at the end of the season. For me, it seems going into Season 5, this could change the course of what we have seen for Eleven so far.
Eleven/Jane has grown a lot over the last four seasons. Her childhood was lonely, traumatic, and isolated. She was able to meet a group of people that she loved and considered family. Going from being a girl who didn’t understand many words, social cues, or even what it meant to have a friend, to having many friends and good memories is what you would want for a girl like Eleven.
She’s been through a lot. Hell, Hawkins in general been through a lot. But keep in mind that Eleven was experimented on as a child and never had the normal childhood other kids in Hawkins had before all the monsters started to come through.
I love how her character has gone through the many facets that a typical teenager goes through while staying true to what made her so special in the first place. In breaking down this character analysis of Eleven aka Jane, it’s clear that she has made much progress as a person, a teen, and a character. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for Season 5.
You know what I think of you. You’re the most incredible person in the world.