Jane Eyre Chapters 1-9

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1. Summary.

On a dreary afternoon in Gateshead Hall, the ten-year-old Jane Eyre, forbidden by her tyrannous aunt from playing with her cousins, finds a curtained window seat where she can read. Jane's bullying cousin John Reed barges in and insults her, riling Jane to fight for the first time in her life! Stunned, John goes crying to Mrs. Reed, his mother. Mrs. Reed, despite Jane's protests, forbids Jane to be seen and locked in the red-room, a lavishly furnished and rarely used bedroom where Mr. Reed had passed away in. During her time in the room Jane catches sight of her cadaverous reflection in the mirror and sulks about the injustice of Gateshead Hall. Suddenly, Jane senses Mr. Reed's presence in the room. Convinced she sees his spirit, Jane shrieks in horror and faints.

Furthermore, Jane wakes up in the nursery, being cared for by the local apothecary, Mr. Lloyd. Mr. Lloyd asks her about her well-being. Jane confesses her unhappiness which leads Mr. Lloyd asking Jane if she'd like to attend school. Later, Jane overhears Bessie telling Miss Abbot the story of Jane's family and how Mrs. Reed promised to raise Jane like one of their own children—John, Eliza, and Georgiana. For two months, Jane anxiously waits for her schooling to start. Finally, she is interviewed by Mr. Brocklehurst—the stern headmaster of the Lowood school. He lectures Jane about the importance of religion, “That proves you have a wicked heart; and you must pray to God to change it: to give you a new and clean one: to take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”- (Bronte 32) Jane explains to him she is hurt from Mrs. Reed's false accusation, exclaiming that her aunt makes her sick and is herself a brutal and deceitful person. Yet Jane reveals to Bessie how she adores her the most. Four days later, Jane leaves Gateshead to start her new journey at the Lowood school, a charity school for orphan girls. On her first day, Jane witnesses the strictly regimented routine for the school. Despite this, Jane is fond of the school's superintendent, Ms. Maria Temple. Later, Jane spots a solitary girl, Helen Burns. Although, Jane’s hermit personality restricts her to talking to strangers, she feels an immediate connection to Helen.

On the second day, Jane is overwhelmed by the lessons, but is fascinated by watching Helen Burns across the room. From enduring the strict and onerous rules, Helen emphasizes to Jane her philosophy of turning the other cheek, “Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it: it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear.” -(Bronte 58) and her belief about the beautiful afterlife gives her hope and patience to sustain suffering in this world. The conditions at Lowood remain bitter, as Mr. Brocklehurst enforces that all the girls' hair be cut off for the sake of modesty. Jane terrified that Mr. Brocklehurst will remember his oath to Mrs. Reed to expose that Jane is deceitful and to avoid her sinister character. After school is dismissed that evening, believing that everyone loathes her, Helen reassures Jane that she is pitied by her peers. Moreover, Ms. Temple promises to write to Mr. Lloyd confirming Jane is not a liar. Jane realizes now she prefers the “impoverished Lowood to the luxuries of Gateshead.” Spring brings better weather, but an epidemic of typhus has infected the school. In the midst of spring's renewal, Jane contemplates death for the first time. Jane soon learns that Helen suffers from consumption (tuberculosis), in desperation to see her friend Jane sneaks into Helen's bedside, comforting her. Jane soon learns Helen is not afraid of dying because she will be leaving behind the suffering of the world and going to God, “I am sure there is a future state; I believe God is good… God is my father, God is my friend; I love him; I believe he loves me.” -(Bronte 90) By morning, Helen is dead. Helen is buried in an unmarked grave word "Resurgam"—Latin for "I will rise again."

2. Passage Analysis.

In Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre, Jane asserts herself by stopping others from misrepresenting and taking advantage of her by expressing herself and speaking out against the cruel and hypocritical conventions that repress her. However, Jane realizes her outburst was out of line because of her social position and knows she must learn to control her passionate heart. Bronte conveys a layered attitude of admiration and reverence for the protagonist Jane Eyre’s passionate nature which is uniquely conveyed by her dauntless descriptions, subtle details in the descriptions of her conscious, and controlled tone.

Early in the quote, Bronte’s diction is seemingly contradictory, as she goes from admiring Jane’s bold assertion to settling down as remorse takes over her genuine character. For instance, though Bronte does say Jane has won her battle “…and I enjoyed my conqueror’s solitude,” she then immediately calls Jane on “experiencing afterwards the pang of remorse.” However, despite this, Bronte’s language comes antithetical when she goes on to say that Jane’s reflection showed her the “madness of [her] conduct” and her expressive character was strengthened from standing up against her cruel peers by the determination in her heart.

To expand on Jane’s bold character that Bronte admires, she provides details of Jane’s emotions that hint at Bronte’s respect for this small girl. In fact, Jane’s conscious overpowers her to make her realize what she had done, “At first, I smiled… and felt elate, but this fierce pressure subsided in me.” Bronte’s controlled tone from optimism to pessimistic evokes the feelings of being submissive about the fearless and madness one has within oneself “as [Jane] had done- [one] can not give its furious feelings uncontrolled play, as [Jane] had given- without experiencing the chill of reaction.”

Indeed, through Bronte’s use of language, descriptions, and tone she is able to purvey Jane Eyre’s true character through her fondness and admiration.

3. Discussion Questions.

  • on page 81 Jane states, “I would not now have exchanged Lowood with all its privations for Gateshead and its daily luxuries.” However, earlier in the novel Jane says she would rather stay at Gateshead then go to some poor and low relations called Eyre because she believes “poverty for me was synonymous with degration”-21. Why do you think Jane has changed her mind of wanting to stay at Lowood, a non-luxurious school than at the Gateshead mansion?
  • What is the purpose of Helen saying, “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you.” – page 61
  • on page 90 Helen tells Jane the night before she dies, “You will come to the same region of happiness: be received by the same mighty universal Parent, no doubt, dear Jane.” What is the significance of Helen’s death, as it breaks hers and Jane’s loving friendship?
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Jane Eyre Chapters 1-9. (2019, May 08). Retrieved February 22, 2024 , from

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