Author’s Full Name
Victorian novel. Jane Eyre combines Gothic mystery, a romantic marriage plot, and a coming-of-age story.
Author’s Pen Name
Currer Bell, the “editor”
Northern England in the early 1800s.
Author’s Date of Birth
Point of View
First person. Jane recounts her story ten years after its ending.
You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us.
•Location: Chapter 1
•Speaker: John Reed
•Mentioned or related: Jane Eyre
Returning, I had to cross before the looking-glass; my fascinated glance involuntarily explored the depth it revealed. All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: … the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the effect of a real spirit.
•Location: Chapter 2
•Speaker: Jane Eyre
I shook my head: I could not see how poor people had the means of being kind; and then to learn to speak like them, to adopt their manners, to be uneducated, to grow up like one of the poor women I saw sometimes nursing their children or washing their clothes at the cottage doors of the village of Gateshead: no, I was not heroic enough to purchase liberty at the price of caste.
•Location: Chapter 3
•Speaker: Jane Eyre
Ere I had finished this reply, my soul began to expand, to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible bond had burst, and that I had struggled out into unhoped-for liberty.
•Location: Chapter 4
•Speaker: Jane Eyre
I hold another creed: … it makes Eternity a rest—a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. … with this creed revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low: I live in calm, looking to the end.
•Location: Chapter 6
•Speaker: Helen Burns
I resolved, in the depth of my heart, that I would be most moderate … I told her all the story of my sad childhood. Exhausted by emotion, my language was more subdued than it generally was when it developed that sad theme; and mindful of Helen’s warnings against the indulgence of resentment, I infused into the narrative far less of gall and wormwood than ordinary. Thus restrained and simplified, it sounded more credible: I felt as I went on that Miss Temple fully believed me.
•Location: Chapter 8
•Speaker: Jane Eyre
•Mentioned or related: Maria Temple, Helen Burns
The refreshing meal, the brilliant fire, the presence and kindness of her beloved instructress, or, perhaps, more than all these, something in her own unique mind, had roused her powers within her … Helen suddenly acquired a beauty more singular than that of Miss Temple’s—a beauty neither of fine color nor long eyelash, nor pencilled brow, but of meaning, of movement, of radiance.
•Location: Chapter 8
•Speaker: Jane Eyre
•Mentioned or related: Maria Temple, Helen Burns
I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon. I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space: “Then,” I cried, half desperate, “grant me at least a new servitude!”
•Location: Chapter 10
•Speaker: Jane Eyre
While I paced softly on, the last sound I expected to hear in so still a region, a laugh, struck my ear. It was a curious laugh; distinct, formal, mirthless. I stopped: the sound ceased, only for an instant; it began again, louder: for at first, though distinct, it was very low. It passed off in a clamorous peal that seemed to wake an echo in every lonely chamber; though it originated but in one, and I could have pointed out the door whence the accents issued.
•Location: Chapter 11
•Speaker: Jane Eyre
•Mentioned or related: Bertha Mason
I climbed the three staircases, raised the trap-door of the attic, and having reached the leads, looked out afar over sequestered field and hill, and along dim sky-line—that then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen—that then I desired more of practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach.
•Location: Chapter 12
•Speaker: Jane Eyre
It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do … It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.
•Location: Chapter 12
•Speaker: Jane Eyre
The protagonist and narrator, she is an orphaned girl caught between class boundaries, financial situations, and her own conflicted feelings. In her youth and again as a governess, she must depend on others for support. She feels isolated, and strives for her personal freedom and meaningful connections with others—to find the loving family she never had. She is intelligent, imaginative, and principled. She defies many restrictive social conventions, especially those affecting women.
1.1. What narrative point of view does Bronte use for this novel?
The story is told in the first person protagonist point of view with Jane, the main character, as reliable.
1.2. What can the reader expect in a story told from this point of view
Readers can expect that the novel will be subjective. The reader will learn what the main character, Jane, observes and thinks. The reader must be aware of possible bias, inconsistencies, or incorrect assumptions from the main character.
1.3. How does Bronte create sympathy for Jane in the first chapter?
Readers feel sympathy for Jane, as she lives with her aunt and cousins and has no family of her own. Her aunt makes it clear that she dislikes Jane, as do her cousins. Jane appears to be treated unfairly by Mrs. Reed and John and looks as if she is treated like an outsider in her home.
1.4. Describe the exposition of the novel.
Jane is thankful that it is too cold and dreary outside to take a walk. Mrs. Reed’s children, Eliza, John, and Georgiana, sit with her in the drawing-room. Jane is not allowed to join the family, as Mrs. Reed believes Jane is unpleasant company.
1.5. What is the purpose of including the descriptive passages of Berwick’s History of British Birds at this point in the novel?
The reader learns that Jane gains comfort and happiness from studying the pictures and words; Jane imagines the places in the book to escape the discomfort of her home life. Readers learn that Jane is happy only by herself and that she has little opportunity for entertainment in her home, as she has no children with whom to play games.
1.6. In the following, John Reed is speaking to Jane. Explain Bronte’s social point. “You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not live here with gentlemen’s children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mamma’s expense. Now I’ll teach you to rummage my book-shelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years.”
First, it is obvious that boys are superior to girls. John Reed knows that the house and everything in it will belong to him, not to his sisters and certainly not to Jane. Second, readers learn that Jane is a penniless orphan, and John recalls his mother’s ideas that Jane should not live as they do. She should not be allowed to share their meals or clothing. Mrs. Reed takes care of Jane because it is her obligation.
1.7. Do you believe Jane’s description of her abuse by John Reed is realistic or exaggerated? “I really saw in John Reed a tyrant: a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head trickle down my neck, and was sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations for the time predominated over fear, and I received him in frantic sort.”
Jane’s description of the fight is clearly accurate. While he is not literally a murderer, he is a bully. Especially since Jane is not allowed to join the family in the drawing room, readers can infer that Jane is habitually mistreated by John Reed.
2.1. Describe how the weather sets the tone for this chapter in the novel.
Outside, the wind howls during a fierce storm. Readers can expect a chapter full of conflict to match the foreboding tone set by the weather. Inside, Jane is terrified that she is left in the red room. Abbot and Bessie hold Jane down and threaten to tie her to the chair. Jane becomes more and more worried and frightened as night approaches. The “rain is still beating,” and “the wind is howling,” matching Jane’s intensity of fright. Jane screams, but Mrs. Reed does not permit her to go to the nursery. At the end of the chapter, Jane faints.
2.2. Describe how Jane holds an ambiguous place in the Reed home and in society.
Jane is not a member of the immediate family, nor is she a servant. In fact, she is “less than a servant” because she does nothing for her keep. The servants are not required to treat Jane with respect. Jane knows she is in an awkward position because if she is dismissed from Mrs. Reed’s home, she has nowhere to live and nowhere to go. Although she is from an upper class family, Jane has no money and nothing of her own.
2.3. How does Miss Abbot try to frighten Jane before locking her in the red room?
Miss Abbot says, “God will punish Jane; He might strike her dead in the midst of her tantrums, and then where would she go?” She also tells Jane that if she does not repent, “something bad might be permitted to come down the chimney and fetch her away.”
2.4. What does the reader learn about Jane’s character in this chapter?
Readers learn that Jane is strong willed and opinionated. Jane resists when Bessie and Miss Abbot take her to the red room. She ponders her predicament and behavior, but decides she has done nothing wrong, thereby defying authority.
2.5. Jane briefly considers escaping Gateshead. What options does she ponder?
Jane thinks about running away or “never eating or drinking more, and letting herself die.” She feels death is her only escape from Gateshead.
2.6. Why is Jane allowed to live at Gateshead with the Reeds?
Mr. Reed was Jane’s uncle, and he took her into his home as an infant. Before he died, he made his wife, Mrs. Reed, promise to raise Jane as one of her own children.
2.7. Describe how Bronte’s use of diction and sentence structure in the following sentence contributes to the overall meaning of the sentence. “My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings; something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated; endurance broke down; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort.”
Bronte chooses the words “oppressed,” “suffocated,” “broke,” and “desperate” to show Jane’s terrified state of mind. She also uses one long run on sentence to illustrate Jane’s frantic state of mind; Jane is thinking so quickly that her thoughts run together in panic.
2.8. How does this chapter begin and end?
In the beginning of this chapter, Bessie and Abbot drag Jane to the red room and hold her down in a chair. At the end, Jane thinks she sees a ghost in the red room and screams. In her exhaustion and fear, she faints.
2.9. Consider the other characters’ actions when Jane is locked in the red-room. How do the other characters’ dialogue and behavior help shape readers opinions of them?
Unlike Jane, with whom readers feel immense sympathy, readers instantly dislike Mrs. Reed and see her as a harsh woman, devoid of sympathy, love, and kindness. Bessie’s dialogue shows concern for Jane, as Bessie asks if Jane is sick, hurt, or if she has seen something. She also pleads with Mrs. Reed on Jane’s behalf to let Jane out of the room. Abbot, on the other hand, speaks as if Jane is only a naughty girl who wants attention. Readers leave the scene feeling sympathy for Jane and Bessie, but disgust and distaste for Mrs. Reed and Miss Abbot.
3.1. Describe how the tone of the chapter changes from beginning to end.
The tone of the beginning of this chapter is sad, melancholy, and indiffert. Jane wakes up in the red room and finds Bessie gently caring for her. Jane deems this care and nurturing as having come too late, and Bessie’s kindness does not improve Jane’s mood. When Mr. Lloyd, the apothecary, arrives, Jane politely answers his questions, but her mood only improves at his suggestion of school. Jane is seldom allowed to make a choice in her own life, and the tone of the chapter lightens somewhat as Jane ponders the possibility of going to school.
3.2. Study the ballad in Chapter III. a.) Identify the rhyme scheme. b.) Explain the effect of the repetition used in the ballad. c.) Explain how the imagery in the ballad emphasizes the typical life of an orphan in the 19th century.
a.) The rhyme scheme is abab. b.) The phrase “the poor orphan child” is repeated at the end of each stanza, thereby emphasizing the sadness of the ballad. c.) The imagery created by words and phrases like sore feet, weary limbs, wild mountains, dark skies, grey rocks, and broken bridges emphasizes the cheerless life that orphans of the 19th century could expect. Having been discarded and alone, they had no one to take care of them, but God, and could expect a harsh life.
3.3. Describe the irony in Jane’s thought: “Poverty for me was synonymous with degradation.”
The irony is that Jane is poor, even though she is allowed to live with wealthy relative. She has no money and no prospects, yet she states that she “should not like to belong to poor people.” Even Jane makes an ironic distinction between being penniless and coming from a lower class.
3.4. Describe the effect of the allusion that Bronte employs in this chapter.
Miss Abbot compares Jane to Guy Fawkes. Fawkes was a member of the conspiracy that attempted to carry out the Gunpowder Plot to assassinate King James I of England and members of Parliament. By this comparison, Abbot suggests that Jane is devious and dishonest.
3.5. Explain how Jane suffers prejudice based on her appearance.
Abbot says: “If Jane were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really can not care for such a little toad as that.” Readers assume that attractive children are generally treated more favorably than unattractive or plain looking children. Bessie agrees with Miss Abbot and adds that they would feel sorry for Georgiana if she were in Jane’s position because Georgiana is so beautiful with “her long curls and her blue eyes.” If Jane were a prettier child, readers believe she would have been treated with more care.
4.1. What do readers learn from Jane’s dialogue in the following quotation? “I am glad you are no relation of mine: I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty.”
From Jane’s fiery words to Mrs. Reed, readers learn that Jane has an explosive temper. She is passionate, brave, outspoken, and bold. Readers also note that after she fires her feelings to Mrs. Reed, Jane immediately feels relieved, “as if an invisible bond had burst.”
4.2. Identify 3 or more similes and/or metaphors that Bronte uses in this chapter. Explain the comparison that each makes and how they add to the overall meaning of the text.
Possible responses: The simile Jane “had flown at John Reed like a mad cat” compares Jane’s wild behavior to that of a rabid beast. One can picture her scratching with claw like finger nails, biting, etc.
Simile: Jane speaks back to Mrs. Reed and rouses her anger, thus invoking Mrs. Reed to “sweep Jane like a whirlwind into the nursery.” Mrs. Reed takes Jane to the nursery very quickly, almost violently—like a tornado.
Simile: Jane loves her doll; it is one of the few possessions she has, and it brings her comfort. She describes it as being “shabby as a miniature scarecrow,” meaning that her doll is ragged
Metaphor: Jane describes Mr. Brocklehurst as “a black pillar,” an inanimate stack of stone blocks, because of his imposing figure and dark dress.
After Jane speaks harshly to Mrs. Reed, she learns what vengeance feels like, and she compares the feeling to “aromatic wine,” sweet and comforting.
These similes and metaphors add to the overall meaning of the text by presenting clear examples of Jane’s feelings. Readers learn how quickly Jane was rushed to the red-room and how Jane relishes in the vengeance from telling Mrs. Reed how she really feels.
4.3. Identify the hyperbole that Bronte incorporates in the following quotation and explain its significance. “Now, uttered before a stranger, the accusation cut me to the heart: I dimly perceived that she was already obliterating hope from the new phase of existence which she destined me to enter; I felt, though I could not have expressed the feeling, that she was sowing aversion and unkindness along my future path; I saw myself transformed under Mrs. Brocklehurst’s eye into an artful, noxious child, and what could I do to remedy the injury?”
Bronte uses the hyperbole “cut me to the heart” to emphasized Jane’s strong feeling of betrayal and obliteration. Bronte has Jane exaggerate her feelings to use the word “cut” to have readers realize that Jane is so hurt that she feels physically injured and that she needs a “remedy” for her injury. By incorporating the hyperbole into the text, readers understand how profoundly devastated Jane is by her aunt’s remarks to Mr. Brocklehurst.
4.4. Analyze Bronte’s use of fire and ice in this chapter. Provide examples from the text to support your thoughts. What do these motifs represent in the text?
The color red, fire, and brimstone are used in several instances to represent evil, fury, and misbehavior. Bessie tells Jane: “You look quite red, as if you had been about some mischief.”
More specifically, fire represents Jane’s passionate spirit, which is described as “a ridge of lighted heath, alive, glancing, devouring.” On the other hand, ice is used to represent any force that attempts to suppress Jane’s vitality. For example, when the argument with Mrs. Reed is over, Jane feels a “chill of reaction” and feels as if “the flames are dead.”
4.5. Analyze Jane’s shocking statements in this chapter. Considering Jane’s place in society, explain why her statements are inappropriate.
First, Jane dares to ask her Aunt Reed what her husband would say about the way Mrs. Reed treats Jane. For a moment, Mrs. Reed is absolutely stunned at Jane’s bold tongue, while the reader probably admires her courage. Jane is, after all, living among relatives in whose care she was placed. Second, Jane tells Mr. Brocklehurst that she does not like Psalms because they are boring. According to the social conventions of the time period, children studied scripture as a part of their moral development. Third, after Mr. Brocklehurst leaves, Jane tells Mrs. Reed that she detests the manner in which Mrs. Reed spoke about her behavior. Jane tells Mrs. Reed that she is not a liar and that she does not love her. While is might seem inappropriate for a child to speak disrespectfully to an adult, the reader must also admit that Jane is speaking the truth.
4.6. From Mr. Brocklehurst’s description of Lowood, how do readers know that he is a hypocrite? How does this knowledge foreshadow Jane’s experience at Lowood?
Mr. Brocklehurst states that the girls at Lowood are subjected to plain food, clothing, and lodging, but his wife and daughter wear silk dresses. Readers can predict that Mr. Brocklehurst will continue to indulge himself and his family with luxuries, possibly at the expense of the students at Lowood, thereby foreshadowing Jane’s grim future at the school.
4.7. Explain the epiphany that Jane has at the end of the chapter about her relationship with Bessie.
Jane suddenly realizes that Bessie truly cares for her even though she sometimes speaks harshly to Jane. Jane realizes that she will miss Bessie when she leaves Gateshead and that their relationship is special.
4.8. This chapter ends the first section of the novel, Jane’s childhood at Gateshead. What has Jane learned from her relationship with Mrs. Reed?
Jane learns that she is essentially alone in the world, that she is not worthless simply because she is an orphan, and that she must stand up for herself in the world.
5.1. This chapter marks the first time the reader is addressed directly. Why is this important?
It is important because readers realize that the novel is being narrated by an older woman…not the child Jane at Lowood. Instead of being written directly from a child’s mind, the novel is narrated by adult Jane remembering her childhood experiences.
5.2. Examine how Bronte uses onomatopoeia in this chapter and discuss its effect on the text.
Examples of onomatopoeia fill this chapter. Some examples include:
• “wild wind rushing amongst trees”
• “hum I had heard was the combined result of their whispered repetitions”
• “the wind rave in furious gusts, and the rain fall in torrents”
• “low, vague hum of numbers”
• “The indefatigable bell now sounded for the fourth time”
• “the sound of a hollow cough”
• “the sound of a cough close behind me”
The first few sounds help the readers to experience Jane’s travel by coach. Most of the onomatopoeia is used to illustrate the school setting. These sounds are all very new to Jane, the young orphan who has never been to school. With these examples of onomatopoeia, readers can better imagine Jane’s environment at the school. Readers also are aware because of the repetition of the bells and humming voices that the school is strict, orderly, and has formal rules.
5.3. Consider these facts and answer the following question:
• All girls share drinks from one large mug of water.
• The girls are fed small portions of unappetizing food.
• Jane hears girls coughing on more than one occasion.
• When outside, the stronger girls run and play, but the thin, pale girls huddle together.
• Lowood Institution is a school for orphans.
Knowing these facts, what can readers predict will happen later in the novel?
Because all girls drink from the same mug of water, they share each other’s germs. The girls also share unhealthy conditions, and little money will be spent on children at a school for orphans. Adding the coughing, pale children, readers can infer that many of the girls are or will become sick. Then, the germs will spread rapidly, creating an epidemic at the school.
5.4. In general, consider the connotations that Bronte employs in this chapter. Is the overall feeling of the language in this chapter positive or negative? Cite examples and explain Bronte’s strategy.
In general, Bronte uses negative connotations for this chapter. One example is the word “severed” to describe the end of Bessie and Jane’s relationship. This word has a negative connotation that implies that the separation is difficult and emotionally painful. The coach sounded its “hollow horn,” which implies a lonely journey. The word “silence” is repeated many times in this chapter, indicating the rules and procedures of Lowood Institution. When describing the food, Bronte uses the words “rancid” and “mess,” which are both unappetizing terms. Bronte uses an abundance of negative connotations to emphasize Jane’s gloomy journey and arrival at Lowood.
5.5. What can readers infer about Mr. Brocklehurst’s character from the information presented in this chapter?
First, Mr. Brocklehurst is in charge of Lowood Institution because his mother is Naomi Brocklehurst, the builder of the newest part of the house. He is treasurer, so he allots money to the school to buy food and other goods for the school girls. After the girls are fed burnt porridge for breakfast, the girls whisper about Mr. Brocklehurst, and Miss Temple does little to quiet their complaints. Readers can infer that Miss Temple shares their thoughts, especially since she later arranges for the girls to receive bread and cheese. In addition, readers learn that the girls make their own clothing, as is obviously commanded by Mr. Brocklehurst. He cares little for the girls, as many, including Jane, are left hungry at the end of the school day. Readers can infer that he prefers to save money rather than provide more food and warmer clothing for the girls. Of his overall character, readers can infer that he is stingy and neglectful.
5.6. What do the burnt porridge, distasteful food, and inadequate portion sizes at Lowood emphasize?
The scanty portion sizes and ruined food emphasize the poor living conditions at Lowood Institution.
5.7. Contrast Bronte’s description of Superintendent Miss Temple with that of her employer, Mr. Brocklehurst?
Bronte metaphorically describes Mr. Brocklehurst as “a black pillar.” His features are stern and grim; his beliefs are inflexible and rigid. On the contrary, Miss Temple is described as having “a benignant light” in her eyes. She contrasts Mr. Brocklehurst by being a kind, caring, feminine figure for the girls at Lowood. Despite Mr. Brocklehurst’s orders, Miss Temple orders a meal of bread and cheese to supplement the burnt porridge the girls have for breakfast.
6.1. Detail the harsh physical conditions of the setting in this chapter.
The rooms are very cold, and the girls can feel the cold wind coming through the cracks in the windows in their rooms. The temperature is so low that the water in their pitchers they use for washing is completely frozen.
6.2. Why does Helen Burns endure her harsh treatment at Lowood?
First, she does not want to disappoint her family. Second, she tries to be good to everyone, including evildoers. Third, she believes her harsh treatment is her fate, which she is required to endure.
6.3. Analyze the difference between Jane and Helen’s beliefs about Christianity.
Because Helen places so much emphasis on fate and the practice of enduring hardships, readers can assume that she follows strict Calvinist doctrine. Unlike Jane, Helen treats evildoers with love and kindness, as she believes this is what her religion and the Bible require. Jane, on the other hand, has limited knowledge of religion. She tells Helen that she would resist her ill treatment and rebel from her teacher.
6.4. What does Helen tell Jane about her feelings toward the Reed family?
Helen tells Jane that it is her duty to forgive Mrs. Reed and John Reed. However, Jane feels this is impossible.
6.5. Evaluate Helen’s diction in her lesson to Jane about strength of character. Explain how Bronte uses Helen’s diction to exhibit her character.
Helen’s diction matches her character: Helen is strong, but a conformist. She exhibits heightened self discipline, but readily accepts reprimands from her teachers. Bronte has Helen speak using formal language, educated vocabulary, and complex sentence patterns to illustrate her strong, but conforming beliefs.
7.1. Using examples from Chapter VII, examine Bronte’s use of light and dark.
Bronte uses darkness and dark colors when describing Mr. Brocklehurst. He is again referred to as “the same black column” and “the black marble clergyman.” When Mr. Brocklehurst whispers in Miss Temple’s ear, Jane is afraid that he is telling Miss Temple bad things about her, and she fears she will see Miss Temple’s “dark orb turn on her,” as Jane fears Mr. Brocklehurst’s influence on Miss Temple. Light, on the other hand, is used to describe Helen Burns’ effect on Jane when Jane stands on the stool for her punishment. Jane notes that Helen has a “strange light” in her eyes, and Jane compares her to an angel. When Helen smiles at Jane, Helen feels a boost of energy and strength coming from the “brightness.”
7.2. How does Bronte indicate that Mr. Brocklehurst is a hypocrite in this chapter?
Mr. Brocklehurst demands that Julia Severn’s red, curly hair be cut, and that all girls’ braids be cut, as well. However, his wife wears elaborate, false French curls. Mr. Brocklehurst also remarks that he strives to teach girls plainness and modesty instead of vanity, yet his family members are elaborately dressed in “velvet, silk, and furs.”
7.3. From Jane’s point of view, how is Miss Temple’s behavior in this chapter unacceptable?
When Mr. Brocklehurst chastises Miss Temple for supplementing the girls’ meals with bread and cheese, Miss Temple does not respond. She obviously disagrees with his view that feeding the girls properly will “starve their immortal souls,” but she does not voice her concerns or make any facial expressions. To Jane, this is unacceptable, as she would have likely responded with fury to Mr. Brocklehurst, and she believes the girls’ poor diet and scanty clothing is unhealthy.
7.4. How does this chapter begin and end?
This chapter begins with Jane’s description of the poor conditions at Lowood, including small food portions and scanty clothing, and their long, cold walks to church to hear Mr. Brocklehurst’s sermons. The chapter ends with Jane’s punishment. Mr. Brocklehurst states that no one shall speak to Jane; Helen smiles at Jane and raises her spirits.
7.5. Explain the purpose of the figurative language in this paragraph: “Mr. Brocklehurst again paused…perhaps overcome by his feelings. Miss Temple had looked down when he first began to speak to her; but she now gazed straight before her, and her face, naturally pale as marble, appeared to be assuming also the coldness and fixity of that material; especially her mouth, closed as if it would have required a sculptor’s chisel to open it, and her brow settled gradually into petrified severity.”
Bronte employs the use of similes in this paragraph to emphasize Miss Temple’s strong feelings. She is certainly not allowed to disagree with her boss, so she cannot voice her concerns. Her mouth is squeezed tightly shut, so she will not speak against her boss and be fired from her job. Further, her “pale as marble” face appears marble-like. She does not agree with Mr.Brocklehurst’s ideas, yet she cannot show him that she disagrees.
8.1. What is the one thing that Jane Eyre truly wants?
Jane wants a friend; she tells Helen Burns that she only wants “to gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse.”
8.2. Contrast Helen and Jane’s views of solitude.
Unlike Jane, Helen finds peace in solitude. She enjoys her own company and believes that self approval is more valuable than friends. Jane is distraught at the thought of being friendless at Lowood and states that she would rather have her “arm broken” than be without friends.
8.3. How does the tone of the chapter change from beginning to end?
In the beginning of the chapter, the tone is despondent and downhearted, as Jane is very upset that she has been accused of lying. She feels hopeless and miserable. By the end of the chapter, however, Miss Temple clears Jane of all accusations, and the tone changes to exaltation and elation.
8.4. Describe how Helen’s actions foreshadow a later event in the novel.
When Helen speaks to Jane about death, she tells Jane that “Life is so soon over, and death is so certain an entrance to happiness” to show her fixation and even almost obsession with death. Immediately after she speaks, she breathes faster than usual and coughs, thus foreshadowing her premature death.
8.5. Explain how Jane’s temperament begins to change in this chapter because of her relationship with Helen and Miss Temple.
Jane is naturally fiery and hot- tempered. However, from watching Helen and Miss Temple’s behavior, she is learning to control her passionate nature. When Miss Temple asks Jane to tell her about Jane’s relationship with Mrs. Reed, Jane decides to tell her story in a “restrained and simplified” manner. Later in the chapter, however, Jane’s usual temperament returns. Helen is forced to wear the pasteboard with the word “slattern” written upon it, and when she is allowed to finally remove it, Jane rushes to her, removes the sign, and throws it into the fire with fury that has been “burning in her soul all day.”
9.1. Explain the symbolic meanings of the names of the places where Jane has lived so far in her life: Gateshead and Lowood.
With the word “gate” in the name of Gateshead, readers can infer that this is the beginning of Jane’s life. Gates can also be closed, representing the limited control that Jane has over her own life. Lowood has the word “low” in its title, implying that Jane’s stay at Lowood will be a low point in her life.
9.2. Contrast Helen and Jane’s views of death and religion.
Helen waits patiently for death with a cheerful attitude, as she excited to “escape great sufferings” and meet God. Jane, being much less religious, does not understand death. Death, God, and the afterlife are a mystery to her, and she asks Helen if she is sure such a place called Heaven even exists.
9.3. Analyze how the weather parallels and contrasts the tone and events of the chapter.
Contrasting with the harsh winter conditions, April and May have arrived, bringing warm days and beautiful flowers, which match Jane’s happier lifestyle. Since so many of the girls are ill, Jane and the other healthy girls are free to roam the beautiful gardens and play together. In contrast, the tone of the chapter is ultimately sorrowful because Helen dies in Jane’s arms. Though the weather remains pleasant, Jane experiences great tragedy in the loss of her friendship with Helen.
9.4. Why does Jane enjoy her new friend?
Jane enjoys Mary Ann Wilson’s company. Jane finds Mary Ann to be funny and informative. Jane likes asking Mary Ann questions, as Mary Ann is older than Jane and understands more of the world.
9.5. Explain the figurative language Bronte uses here: “Disease had thus become an inhabitant of Lowood, and death its frequent visitor.”
In this quotation, Bronte uses metaphors to compare disease to a girl at Lowood and death to a visitor. Bronte makes the point that death and disease are now commonplace at Lowood; they are no longer shocking surprises.
9. 6. At this point in her life, Jane has only encountered two significant religious figures. Explain the effect that each has on Jane and her view of religion.
The first figure that Jane encounters is the hypocritical Mr. Brocklehurst. He claims to be very religious, but does not follow the conventions he preaches. Once a frequent visitor at Lowood Institution, Mr. Brocklehurst ceases his visits to Lowood after the typhus outbreak begins. Instead of being a loving, spiritual figure who assists in dealing with the epidemic, he displays his hypocritical nature by no longer visiting Lowood. His actions and views do not impress Jane favorably on the subject of religion.Helen Burns is the second significant religious figure that Jane meets. Unlike Brocklehurst, Helen is kind, caring, religious, and faithful. She is not afraid to die, as she believes she will be comforted by God. Jane questions what God is and if He exists; Helen’s strong beliefs in God impress Jane heavily. She still does not have a clear view of religion, but considering Helen’s unwavering views, Jane believes that religion must have merit.
10.1. An aporia occurs when a character speaks directly to oneself or to the reader, especially when a character is trying to solve a dilemma or decide on a plan. Explain when and why Bronte uses aporia in this chapter.
Bronte uses aporia when Jane is trying to decide what new course of action she should take. She has been at Lowood for many years, and she desires a change. Uncertain of what she should do, Jane talks to herself in her room and tries to formulate a plan to obtain a new job.
10.2. Explain the device that Bronte uses in this quotation: “I had had no communication by letter or message with the outer world: school rules, school duties, school habits and notions, and voices, and faces, and phrases, and costumes, and preferences, and antipathies: such was what I knew of existence.” What effect does the device produce?
Here, Bronte uses polysyndeton, the repetition of the conjunction “and.” The device emphasizes Jane’s point that she has had enough of Lowood: The repetition of “and” seems to make the sentence seem monotonously never-ending, and this is also how she views her life at Lowood. The repetition of the word “school” further produces this effect.
10.3. How does Miss Temple’s marriage affect Jane?
When Miss Temple marries, she moves away to live with her husband, and Jane is left alone at Lowood. In Miss Temple’s presence, Jane has learned to harness her emotions and keep them under restraint. In her absence, however, Jane begins “to feel the stirring of old emotions,” and she is no longer content with her life at Lowood. Her thoughts begin to wander, and with her companion gone, Jane seeks adventure and a change of scenery.
10.4. Discuss Jane’s one real concern about venturing away from Lowood.
Although Jane desires a change, above all, she wishes “the result of her endeavors to be respectable and proper.” Jane is relieved when she reads the response to her advertisement, as the handwriting looks like that of an elderly lady. Working for an elderly lady is safe. Society will approve.
10.5. Bessie notes that Jane is “quite a lady.” On what does Bessie base her opinion?
Bessie calls Jane a lady because she is educated and is properly dressed. Jane can play the piano, draw, and speak French; by the standards of society, these abilities make Jane a lady. Bessie’s opinion has nothing to do with Jane’s personality or Bessie’s own ideas.
10.6. Explain how Bronte uses the supernatural in this chapter.
Having used the red room as the supernatural element at Gateshead, Bronte uses a fairy here at Lowood. Jane believes that a fairy “dropped the required suggestion on her pillow.” In response to Jane’s dilemma, a fairy tells her to be a governess; she is to advertise in the newspaper and receive replies at the post office.
11.1. Examine how class issues are important in this chapter.
Mrs. Fairfax, the head housekeeper, being an upper servant, cannot associate with the lower servants because “one must keep the servants at due distance for fear of losing one’s authority.” She and Jane share similar positions: They are above the servants but below the Rochester family. This explains why Mrs. Fairfax is excited about Jane’s arrival; Mrs. Fairfax has been bored with no one to talk with during the winters at Thornfield.
11.2. Explain what Jane means by this thought: “My couch had no thorns in it that night; my solitary room, no fears.”
The word “thorns” is a pun on the name of her new home, Thornfield. Her comfortable room greatly contrasts her prior homes, Gateshead and Lowood. For one of the few times in her life, she is comfortable in her surroundings and is optimistic about her life and environment.
11.3. Why does Bronte have Jane address the reader at the beginning of this chapter?
Jane addresses the reader to draw the reader into her story. Jane is entering a new phase of her life, and Bronte encourages readers to imagine Jane’s surroundings as if they are there.
11.4. Before Jane goes to sleep in her new room at Thornfield, she kneels to pray. This action does not correlate with Jane’s previous beliefs concerning religion. Why have Jane’s views changed?
Readers can infer that Jane’s religious views have further developed in the years that have passed before the beginning of this chapter. Jane is now an adult, and it is apparent that her understanding of religion as opposed to superstition has matured.
11.5. Explain how Bronte uses foreshadowing and the supernatural in this chapter.
When Jane is touring the house with Mrs. Fairfax, they discuss the lack of life on the third floor, and Jane asks if a ghost lives there. Next, Mrs. Fairfax tells Jane that the Rochesters have a violent past. Then, Jane hears a ghostly laugh, and Mrs. Fairfax explains that it is probably one of the servants, Grace Poole. Readers can assume that Bronte is employing foreshadowing, and these are the first of additional mysterious happenings at Thornfield.
12.1. In the following quotation, what statement is Bronte making regarding gender roles in the 19th century? “Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow minded in their more privileged fellow creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them or laugh at them if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”
In the 19th century, society viewed middle class women as having and needing solely domestic lives and responsibilities. Bronte argues that women feel just as men feel; the sexes are similar in nature…not different…in that they both need stimulation to grow as individuals. Women have desires outside the home, just as men do, which was a revolutionary idea in Victorian times.
12.2. Explain the function of the Gytrash and its effect on the text.
When Jane sees Rochester and his large dog, she immediately thinks of the Gytrash, the supernatural creature who can harm or aid travelers. Bronte includes the idea of the Gytrash as a way of adding yet another supernatural element to the text. The inclusion reinforces Jane’s unconventional thoughts and character in that she considers life with the supernatural in mind.
12.3. In this chapter, Jane experiences a rare moment of equality with the male gender. Explain this incident and its significance.
Jane unknowingly meets her employer, Mr. Rochester, when he falls off his horse. Unable to get up on his own, Mr. Rochester truly needs Jane’s assistance, which creates a temporary equality due to his dependence on Jane. Afterward, Jane is proud that she was able to help a man in need.
12.4. Detail the importance of onomatopoeia in Chapter 12 and provide specific examples.
• “the tinkle of the nearest streams, the sough of the most remote”
• “tramp, tramp, a metallic clatter”
• “in addition to the tramp, tramp, I heard a rush under the hedge”
• “a heaving, stamping, clattering process, accompanied by a barking and baying”
Jane enjoys a quiet, peaceful walk to Hay, and the “tinkle” and “sough” of the streams emphasizes her calm environment. Suddenly, the calm is broken when Jane hears a “tramp” and “metallic clatter.” The noise interrupts Jane’s quiet thoughts, and the scene evolves when Jane hears the “stamping, clattering process” and “a barking a baying.” The noises intensify throughout the chapter to lead up to the climax of the scene…Mr. Rochester’s fall off his horse, and Jane’s assistance. Bronte effectively blends words with sounds to help readers better imagine the incident.
12.5. Explain how Jane’s attire exemplifies her ambiguous position in society.
When Mr. Rochester initially meets Jane, he studies her clothing and finds it to be “quite simple: a black merino cloak, a black beaver bonnet: neither of them half fine enough for a lady’s maid.” Puzzled by her dress, Rochester is unable to interpret her position in society from her clothing, which is odd for the time period. She explains that she is a governess; he then understands how her attire relates to her position in society.