The novel that I’m studying is called Jane Eyre. It’s written by a famous writer called Charlotte Bronte. The novel is about a girl called Jane Eyre who is living with her uncle who is called Mr. Brocklehurst. She is living with him because her parents are dead. She is treated very ruthlessly and brutally by the family and she hates it so much. She is later sent to an Institution called Lowood which is owned by Mr. Brocklehurst in which she is also treated cruelly. However she manages to find herself a friend called Helen, who is suffering from cancer which Jane doesn’t know about until later on in the story.
We later on find out the harsh conditions that the children are living in and how Jane is treated by Mr. Brocklehurst as we progress through the story. In chapter 7 Charlotte Bronte reveals the harsh conditions at Lowood School (She reveals the characters backgrounds in depth). The younger students experienced a more difficult life than the older ones because usually the older students coaxed or menaced the little ones out of their portion or they would deny the chance of any little girl going next to the fire as they would immediately surround the fire in a double row.
The clothing they wore in the cold weather was not appropriate as they did not have gloves, boots or thick clothes. They would not get proper meals and if they made a mistake they would be punished severely. Helen who is a timid girl, gets told off regularly for tiny mistakes she makes even though she’s ill. There is no favouritism or sympathy in Lowood by any of the teachers apart from one teacher called Miss Temple, who has a heart of gold. She was the only teacher that treated Jane and Helen with some respect and she sometimes spoilt them by giving them more appropriate food.
In the previous chapter, Jane left her aunt’s house because she was treated unfairly by the family. In one instance she is told off for hitting the son when she didn’t even touch him. When Jane is told that she was going to an Institution she was overwhelmed with joy that she was finally free from the family she hated. But when she arrived at Lowood she thought that her life was going to change for the better but she was in for a surprise, because Mr. Brocklehurst was the owner of the Institution. Although Jane had only been at Lowood a short time, she had already found herself a friend.
Her name was Helen. Helen was a very shy girl who didn’t speak a lot. Jane witnesses how Helen is treated and she feels sorry for her. Mr. Brocklehurst is a cruel and heartless person, as one day when he visits Lowood, he start making unjust comments about the pupils, such as “no girl should have fancy hair or hairstyles……. “, “two clean tuckers in a week is too much”, “my plan in bringing up these girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury and indulgence……. ” e. t. c. Jane is later tormented by Mr. Brocklehurst when she accidentally drops her slate. Her worse nightmare came true as she caught the attention of Mr. Brocklehurst.
She was punished ruthlessly for making the mistake as she was told to stand on a stool for half an hour, “place the child upon it” and her fear of getting exposed came true, “Who would think that the Evil one had already found a servant and agent in her? “, Mr. Brocklehurst tears Jane apart with the comments he makes about her. The life and conditions in Lowood were incredibly dreadful, especially in the winter.
The students had to go through horrendous conditions with the minimum amount of clothing,” Our clothing was insufficient to protect us from the severe cold; we had no boots, our ungloved hands became numbed and covered with chilblains…… “. The food supply was also kept to a minimum ” Then the scanty supply of food was distressing”. The older girls bullied the younger ones and took their supply of food, “Whenever the famished great girls had an opportunity they would coax or menace the little ones out of their supply of portion”.
Jane fears Mr. Brocklehurst because she worries that he will expose terrible things about her. But her worse nightmare came true. Mr. Brocklehurst arrived at the Institution,” I had my own reasons for being dismayed at this apparition”. He instantaneously starts looking for faults as he thinks that the school is too luxurious for the students while it shouldn’t be. He starts off by criticising their clothes “the laundress tells me that some of the girls have two clean tuckers in the week: it is too much”.
He then goes on and on about what must and must not be done “I hear that a lunch, consisting of bread and cheese, has twice been served out to the girls during the past fortnight. How is this? “, “that girl’s hair must be cut off entirely; I will send a barber tomorrow”, “all those top knots must be cut off”. He was then interrupted when three visitors entered the room. The visitors were his wife and two daughters; wearing velvet, silk and furs with grey beaver hats, had elaborately curled hair and a costly velvet shawl.
Charlotte Bronte speaks through Jane’s character and makes a sarcastic comment, “They ought to have come a little sooner to have heard his lecture on dress….. “. The students at Lowood weren’t even allowed two clean tuckers and Mr. Brocklehurst’s family were all dressed in warm and luxurious clothing. The next event that increases the tension is that Jane drops the slate. Jane was desperately trying to hide her face because she didn’t want Mr. Brocklehurst to see her, “if I could only elude observation” but unfortunately she drew attention to herself when she dropped her slate.
Everyone looked at her including Mr. Brocklehurst. Jane’s heart was in her mouth and she was very petrified. “A careless girl”, said Mr. Brocklehurst and ordered the girl to come forward, “Let the child who broke her slate come forward” and Jane marched towards Mr. Brocklehurst. Jane’s worst nightmare was about to come true. She could not even stand up, that’s how frightened Jane was, so the girls next to her encouraged her to go, “I was paralysed: but the two great girls who sat on each side of me set me on my legs” and so she went. Jane calls Mr.
Brocklehurst a judge because it was like Mr. Brocklehurst was going to sentence her to a punishment. Miss Temple reassures Jane that she shall not be punished because it was a mistake, “Don’t be afraid, I saw it was an accident”, Miss Temple whispers this to Jane, so Mr. Brocklehurst wouldn’t hear it and these words felt like comfort to Jane, “The kind whisper went to my heart like a dagger”. Mr. Brocklehurst subsequently pointed to the stool and ordered someone to bring it over, “Fetch that stool”, he says this furiously. Jane is placed on the stool and is terrorised by Mr. Brocklehurst.
He says all sorts of evil things about her, “Who would think that the Evil One had already found a servant agent in her? ” He keeps on tormenting her as if she has not got any feelings, “Not a member of the flock but evidently an interloper and an alien”. He furthermore tells the teachers to keep an eye on her, “Teachers you must watch her” and Jane is finally left on the stool for half an hour all by herself, and Mr. Brocklehurst tells the students to avoid her for the day, “Let her stand half an hour longer on that stool, and let no one speak to her during the rest of the day”.
From this we see that the conditions in Lowood are horrendous and horrible because Jane accidentally broke her slate and was given a severe punishment for it. The characters play a crucial part in the cruelty of the school because the cruelty of the school system is shown to us through the characters. Mr. Brocklehurst is a very mean and brutal person. He likes things to be done his way and has to be obeyed as we saw him making drastic changes to the Institution as soon as he arrived.
As soon as he arrived he started ordering instructions on what has to be changed, such as, no girl should have two clean tuckers in a week, no one should have fancy hair, and there should be no meal such as supper. He keeps everything strict because he believes that the students should be brought up in a Christian way of life which according to Victorian thinking meant to live poorly and not having any luxury in life. Mr. Brocklehurst is a hypocrite because he wants the children to be treated in a Christian way; which is very uncomfortable and unsympathetic, whilst his family lives a comfortable and luxurious life.
Bronte’s uses exquisite words to describe Mr. Brocklehurst’s family. She describes his wife and children as elegant because they wear luxurious clothing such as velvet, silk and furs with grey beaver hats and ostrich plumes accompanied with elaborately curled hair and shawls. Hypocrisy is the main theme used by Bronte in the story because as we see, Mr. Brocklehurst doesn’t even allow two clean tuckers in a week, nor does he allow the children to be fed properly, whilst his family are enjoying a luxurious life without any restrictions as to what they can and cannot do.
From this we can notice that the rich were powerful and commanding in the Victorian times and religion was quite strict in which they had to follow what the Bible said, and they suffered because the Bible restricts its followers to lead a luxurious life. Mrs. Temple’s character is much softer than Mr. Brocklehurst’s character. At the time when the children were walking in the snow, she encourages them by telling them to try harder and harder, “Keep up our spirits, and march forward”, said Miss Temple.
All the teachers were not bothered to encourage the students because all they cared about was themselves and this shows us that Miss Temple does feel sympathetic towards the children and has got a heart of gold. Miss Temple is a caring and a loving person opposed to Mr. Brocklehurst, as she can make someone feel very comfortable, for instance she helped Jane through her nightmare when Mr. Brocklehurst called her up. She simply said, “Don’t be afraid Jane, I saw it was an accident”, and Jane was so relieved to hear these words, which helped her get through her ordeal.
Jane is a tough character who has a strong relationship with Helen and Miss Temple. The only person she fears is Mr. Brocklehurst. She feels very vulnerable because she is trapped as an orphan in an Institution with ruthless conditions owned by Mr. Brocklehurst whilst he lives a luxurious life. This shows us that in the early Victorian Society poor people/orphans were treated unfairly and had no dignity. The youngsters were not even allowed to speak back to the elders otherwise they would be punished.
Jane is treated unfairly by Mr. Brocklehurst when she accidentally drops her slate, but still comes out strong and this shows us the strength of Jane. The language used is very descriptive and makes it easier for the reader to imagine the conditions. Charlotte Bronte describes the winter conditions as brutal. She uses powerful adjectives and sentences such as, “almost impassable roads” and “the scanty supply of food was distressing”. She uses strong words to create a dramatic effect. These words help us to imagine what the conditions must be like and create a picture of these conditions in our head.
Charlotte also uses poetic imagery to describe Mr. Brocklehurst. She calls him a, “black column”, because he’s standing there like a pillar. Miss Temple is also described, “As pale as marble” by Charlotte because Miss Temple knew she couldn’t interrupt Mr. Brocklehurst whilst he was speaking and had to stand there, listening to him. The other poetic device used is when Mr. Brocklehurst is telling off Miss Temple for not sticking to the rules, “her mouth closed as if it would have required a sculptor’s chisel to open it”, said Charlotte, describing Miss Temples reaction.
Miss Temple’s lips were tightly closed and wouldn’t speak back to Mr. Brocklehurst as she knows what the consequences would be. Both the poetic device used by Charlotte Bronte are in form of a stone, as the first one is when she describes Mr. Brocklehurst as a black column and the second one is when she says that it would need a sculptor’s chisel to open it. Charlotte uses great use of language to reveal the characters behaviour, for instance when she called Mr. Brocklehurst a black pillar, she means that he is a strong man who will be hard to bring down.
Charlotte also uses irony to expose faults, because when Mr. Brocklehurst’s family enter wearing posh clothes she says that, “they ought to have come a little sooner to have heard the lecture on dress”, because this is when the students were given the lecture about wearing only one tucker in a week by Mr. Brocklehurst. The language used by the characters in their speech reveals the power of vulnerability and their relationship to the system operating. The language used by Mr. Brocklehurst is very strong and physically very powerful. He constantly asserts his authority in his use of language, “You are aware that my plan in bringing up……. “.
He frequently refers to the Bible, saying that the children must be denied of all luxury. Miss Temple uses comforting language towards the children because she knows what they are going through and feels sympathetic towards them, “Don’t be afraid Jane I saw it as an accident”, she tries to reassure Jane that it wasn’t her fault. Bronte uses humorous and sarcastic comments to convey her meaning, “They ought to have come a little sooner to have heard his lecture on dress”, this was when Mr. Brocklehurst was lecturing Miss Temple about how the girls should only have one clean tucker a week and Mr. Brocklehurst’s family walks in wearing all luxurious clothes.
This chapter is a very significance in moving the story on. In this chapter Jane’s worst nightmare comes true and she is exposed ruthlessly by Mr. Brocklehurst. She also suffered a cruel punishment for dropping her slate accidentally and because of this incident, now she has even more hatred for Mr. Brocklehurst. The sequence of events, organised for effect is tremendous because at the beginning Charlotte reveals the suffering of all the children in the harsh conditions, and then later reveals how Jane is treated by Mr. Brocklehurst.
So this makes us feel sympathetic towards the children, and especially Jane because she got tortured a lot. The suffering of the children shows us that Mr. Brocklehurst has absolutely no pity towards these children because he makes them suffer in horrendous conditions by not letting them wear appropriate clothing, and this shows us the character of Mr. Brocklehurst before we even meet him. The ending is just as effective as the beginning because this time its Jane alone who is suffering.
The entire scene is based on the conditions in Lowood and Jane’s worst nightmare coming true and we also witness the harsh use of language by Mr. Brocklehurst towards Miss Temple and Jane. The story is told to us through the first person, who is Jane Eyre. Jane describes the situation clearly using her experience, and if it was told using the third person the dramatic effect may not have been there because the third person would not have been there and experienced the situations that were present in Lowood and so would not have been able to describe the conditions in Lowood as effectively as Jane.
The main themes in the story are cruelty, death, wealth, religion, hypocrisy, subordination of women, authority and inequality. These themes are interwoven to create a picture of life in the Victorian times. As in cruelty, poor people were mistreated badly and were given no dignity by the rich. Even when Helen was dying no one cared about her and she was mistreated. But Helen did not mind any of this because she knew that she was not going to stay in this place forever as she was going to die. Only the rich and powerful people lived luxurious and comfortable lives whilst treating the unfortunate people like slaves.
The Bible is used constantly when Mr. Brocklehurst is addressing Miss Temple on how the children should live. Mr. Brocklehurst is a hypocrite because he doesn’t allow sufficient clothing for the children to wear, and yet allows his family to dress in expensive clothing. The rich and powerful had the authority to command and do anything and were never wrong. All this is a picture of life in the Victorian times. Charlotte Bronte wanted to expose the conditions in Lowood. She wanted everyone to know the tough life in the Victorian Era.
I think she is taking an example of her life and what she experienced and now she wants everyone to know. Jane had a very strong relationship with Helen and was very upset when she found out that she was going to die. Charlotte’s both sisters died from Tuberculosis and they went through harshness and cruelty because their mother died and their father was uncommunicative. Charlotte describes the harsh conditions at Lowood and also includes that Helen is dying from tuberculosis and this is what she experienced in her life when her two sisters died from Tuberculosis.
Charlotte Bronte uses very effective words in conveying the conditions at Lowood. The reader is drawn in the scene and the characters she describes give us the clear understanding of what their personality is like e. g. Mr. Brocklehurst is a very tough and stubborn man, so Charlotte uses a phrase, “a black column”, to describe him. Her themes are based on real life as to what the conditions in the Victorian Era were, and what she has been through in real life.