“Theme of Education in Charlotte Bronte's ‘Jane Eyre’”

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Set in the nineteenth century, Jane Eyre describes a woman’s continuous journey through life in search of acceptance and inner peace. Each of the physical journeys made by the main character, Jane Eyre, have a significant effect on her emotions and cause her to grow and change into the woman she ultimately becomes. Her experiences at Lowood School, Thornfield Hall, Moor house, and Ferndean ingeniously correspond with each stage of Jane’s inner quest and development from an immature child to an intelligent and sophisticated woman Ten-year-old Jane, orphaned by the death of her parents and uncle, led a discontented life under the care of her aunt, Mrs. Reed. Due to the harsh treatment she was subject to by both her aunt and cousins, Jane had severe outbursts of retaliation, which resulted in her departure from Gateshead and enrollment at Lowood School. As she leaves for her school, Jane is a passionate and rebellious child and one who is extremely sensitive to injustice. This rebellious nature of hers however is greatly corrected at Lowood, a charity institution for orphan girls where they were taught to be “hardy, patient and self denying”. However one must ask that when Jane leaves for Lowood, has her character already been formed or if she is in the process of becoming that specific definite person who Jane Eyre turns out as. This will help one understand whether Lowood formed or reformed her or to find out if she remained the same. Jane Eyre, neglected and unjustly treated, for the first ten years of her life, yearns for love and affection. It is the one trait that defines her throughout her life. This want for acceptance and love is what drives Jane to do everything that she does. She yearns to leave Gateshead, even with all its physical comforts and luxuries simply because she does not get any love from its inhabitants. Lowood on the other hand, with all its physical hardships and rigorous routine, seems to her a far better place than Gateshead. As she says, “I would not have changed Lowood with all its privations, for gateshead and its daily luxuries”. Whether Lowood forms or reforms her can be contended but the fact that it has had a great impact on Jane cannot be denied. Lowood is an extremely important phase in Jane’s life and her search for an identity starts here and has a great impact on her. Jane Eyre provides an accurate view of education in nineteenth-century England, as seen by an 1840s educator. The course of Jane's life in regard to her own education and her work in education are largely autobiographical, mirroring Charlotte Bronte's own life. Jane's time at Lowood corresponds to Charlotte's education at a school for daughters of the clergy, which she and her sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Emily left for in 1824. Jane went on to attend Miss Wooler's school at Roehead from 1831 to 1832, and returned to teach there for three years in 1935, just as Jane became a teacher at Lowood. Both Charlotte and Jane became governesses. The Lowood School is an accurate representation of a Charity School in the 1820s . The bad health conditions follow the conditions of the school the Brontes went to. The monitorial system of teaching it operates on coincides with the systems created by Joseph Lancaster and Andrew Bell. Lowood's system of a master teacher, under teachers, and monitors is consistent with Bell's complicated system. In addition, the brand of discipline implemented by Mr. Brocklehurst is much like that of Lancaster. Jane's horror at the harsh punishments at Lowood are meant to prompt similar reactions in the reader. Jane at first thinks she could not bear such punishment and is mortified when she must stand on a stool and is accused of being a liar. The disciplining of Jane was completely unfounded, the result of an accident. Most of the punishments at Lowood seem to be for minor and unavoidable infractions such as having dirty nails when the wash water was frozen. Jane sees these punishments as generally just...
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