Bronte's Portrayal of Jane Eyre's Life
"Jane Eyre" is a Victorian novel by Charlotte Bronte. The heroine of
the title is a poor orphan with no sense of belonging or worldly
knowledge. Bronte's portrayal of Jane's life at Lowood School prepares
her life later on in the novel in many different ways. Whilst Jane is
at Lowood she meets the characters of Miss Temple and Helen Burns.
These become her role models and Jane grows to love and admire them.
Bronte uses an austere regime of the school to form Jane's character
and the way she develops at Lowood prepares her for things which
happen later in her life. Bronte's character has many strong values
and beliefs that stay with her throughout the novel, influenced by her
time at Lowood.
Bronte describes how Jane spends the first ten years of her life at
Gateshead where, because she is an orphan, she lives with her aunt and
cousins who treat her harshly. Aunt Reed agreed to look after Jane at
the death of her husband, but she doesn't have to do it well as Jane
is only an orphan. This brings in the Victorian moral idea into the
novel. At age ten, Jane is sent to Lowood by her Aunt Reed. Whilst
Jane is at Lowood she meets two role models, these are Helen Burns and
Miss Temple. In contrast to most other girls of the time, Jane's role
models are not family members. Her only family treat her cruelly and
harshly but once she is at Lowood she is treated fairly.
Bronte creates Lowood School, a charitable academy run by the
evangelical minister, Mr Brocklehurst that Jane attends. He believes
that children should be rid of their sins gained from Adam and Eve at
their birth. In order to achieve this, Lowood is founded upon very
harsh principles. The girls wear hand-me-downs and cheap, plain
clothes. The conditions are damp and cold with poor food. A moral idea
within the novel is that of the hypocritical Mr Brocklehurst. His
firm, religious beliefs mean that the methods and approach of Lowood
are very inhospitable. Mr Brocklehurst is hypocritical because his
beliefs do not relate to his own daughters, only to his pupils. He
informs Miss Temple that, "my plan in bringing up these girls, is not
to accustom them to habits of luxury." Mr Brocklehurst's daughters
dress lavishly with "a false front of French curls" wear extravagant
clothes, in contrast to the girls at Lowood. Mr Brocklehurst believes
that the girls at Lowood should have their top-knots cut off. A
Victorian novel has many different classes in society, that were very
distinct and as Jane was a poor orphan with no inheritance, she was
seen as a lower class. Jane did not have any sense of belonging.
Miss Temple, one of Jane's teachers at Lowood plays an important role
in the emotional development of Jane. She has kindness and sympathy
for people and this brings her to believe Jane when...