Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Thoughts, Re-reading Jane Eyre: Lowood
"I dimly discerned a wall before me and a door open in it; through this door I passed with my new guide."
Jane is sent off to Lowood School alone, which appears to shock good English folk, but arrives safely in the night. She's immediately thrown into things. She manages to tread the waters of the institution, following the rules like everyone else. The food is terrible, the treatment of the students worse, yet she likes it more than Gateshead with all its comforts. Why? Is it because she can see a future for herself here?
"They have ought to have come a little sooner to have heard this lecture on dress, for they were splendidly attired in velvet, silk and furs."
Jane learns a great deal about Brocklehurst when he tours the school. After lecturing everyone on being humble and avoiding the trappings of vanity (he spotted a red head with naturally curly hair), his family walks in all dolled up. Maybe Jane isn't old enough to understand hypocrisy but she knows this scene is all wrong.
When Brocklehurst points Jane out as a liar before the whole school, Jane is ashamed and afraid her hopes to do well are dashed. She comes to find out that the man doesn't have many fans among the Lowood inhabitants and more people pity than hate her. For all his strutting around, he's not respected.
"...it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear."
Helen is a miniature Ghandi, calm and spiritual. She is the first girl Jane befriends at Lowood. Jane's passionate nature often overwhelms her when she sees the injustices Helen endures. Helen takes it all calmly as just another thing she must suffer through in the mortal world. Despite their differences, Helen is the first person in the world Jane truly loves.
Helen dies in Jane's arms. A little hint of the future finishes Chapter Nine: "Her grave is in Brocklebridge churchyard: for fifteen years after her death it was only covered by a grassy mound; but now a grey marble tablet marks the spot, inscribed with her name, and the word 'Resurgam.'" Only someone who remembered a poor, humble girl fifteen years after her death and has the resources could have done that. Hm, I wonder who that could be?
"Miss Temple had always something of serenity in her air, of state in her mien, of refined propriety in her language, which precluded deviation into the ardent, the excited, the eager..."
Miss Temple is the polar opposite of Mr Brocklehurst. She is kind and compassionate. She takes to Jane right off and gives her a chance to defend herself from Brocklehurst's accusations. Jane sees her as a surrogate mother.
"now I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had courage to go forth into its expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils."
Jane makes a place for herself at Lowood as a teacher but after Miss Temple marries and leaves, Jane feels restless. She wants to see more of the world and isn't afraid to work to see it. This is quite a statement. Jane has a comfortable and dependable job. For a woman to give this up for an unknown situation was quite daring. Jane is an unusual woman.
Jane finds her first situation outside Lowood by advertising in the newspaper. Now Jane will go out into the wide world.
The next post I write Jane will have started a whole new life at Thornfield. Tune in then!