by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre Education Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Volume.Chapter.Paragraph)
"I dare say you are clever, though," continued Bessie, by way of solace. "What can you do? Can you play on the piano?"
There was one in the room; Bessie went and opened it, and then asked me to sit down and give her a tune: I played a waltz or two and she was charmed.
"The Miss Reeds could not play as well!" she said exultingly. "I always said you would surpass them in learning." (1.10.66-69)
Bessie has always thought of Jane’s intellectual abilities as making up for, or even replacing, her (lack of) good looks. If Bessie were a high school teacher, she’d be the kind who totally believed that there are only two kinds of girls: the popular, pretty ones and the dorky, bookish ones, and never the twain shall meet.
We know that’s a pretty silly way to see the world—haven’t we learned from reality TV that anyone can be gorgeous with the right expensive makeover? And haven’t you learned from Shmoop that anyone can get smarter with the right tutor? It’s nice that Bessie’s so excited for Jane’s accomplishments, but the way she sees the world—pretty and smart are opposites—is going to make a lot of trouble for Jane down the line, when she has to keep herself dowdy in order to feel savvy.
"Oh, don’t fall back on over-modesty! I have examined Adèle, and find you have taken great pains with her: she is not bright, she has no talents; yet in a short time she has made much improvement."
"Sir, you have given me my 'cadeau'; I am obliged to you: it is the meed teachers most covet; praise of their pupils' progress." (1.13.30-31)
This little moment where Rochester tells Jane she’s a good teacher is important, because Jane never tells us so herself. It’s one of the things she forgets to mention, or maybe leaves out—her modesty is getting in the way of telling her own story. It won’t be the last time that Jane can’t be trusted to depict herself accurately.
I could talk a while when the evening commenced: but the first gush of vivacity and fluency gone, I was fain to sit on a stool at Diana’s feet, to rest my head on her knee, and listen alternately to her and Mary; while they sounded thoroughly the topic on which I had but touched. Diana offered to teach me German. I liked to learn of her: I saw the part of instructress pleased and suited her; that of scholar pleased and suited me no less. (3.4.4)
In her refuge at Moor House, Jane reverts to her Lowood days; Diana is a lot like Miss Temple and Helen Burns combined, a kind and intelligent teacher who also has strong religious beliefs. During this difficult moment, Jane becomes a student—and a child—all over again in order to recuperate after her traumatic experience with Rochester.