Study Guide

Jane Eyre Volume 1, Chapter 3

By Charlotte Brontë

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Volume 1, Chapter 3

  • Jane wakes up, confused and disoriented. Someone is holding her gently; she’s never been held gently before.
  • She starts to realize where she is—in her own bed. Bessie and a gentleman are there, looking after her.
  • Jane’s glad to see the gentleman, because he’s not one of the Reeds. She looks at him closely and realizes that she knows him. It’s Mr. Lloyd, a local apothecary (sort of like a pharmacist—he can give out prescriptions and medicines, but he doesn’t have a doctor’s training).
  • Mr. Lloyd gives Bessie instructions about looking after Jane and says he’ll come back tomorrow, then leaves. Jane feels really depressed after he leaves; he’s much nicer to her than anyone else who lives at Gateshead (Mrs. Reed’s home).
  • Bessie offers to get Jane something to eat or drink and is generally really nice to her. Jane’s pretty confused by this kindness.
  • Bessie goes into another room, and Jane overhears her ask the housemaid, Sarah, to sleep in the nursery because she’s scared that Jane could die.
  • Sarah and Bessie come back to sleep in the nursery; Jane listens as they whisper about strange figures and visions that were seen around Jane earlier—something dressed in white, a black dog, lights, noises. They fall asleep, but Jane’s wide awake in terror.
  • Jane tells us that, even though she doesn’t get sick after this shock, her nerves never really recover. She blames Mrs. Reed, even though she knows that maybe she shouldn’t.
  • When Jane gets up the next day, she sits by the fire wrapped in a shawl; the Reeds have gone out somewhere, Abbot is sewing, and Bessie’s tidying up. Jane should be happy to be left alone for once, instead of bullied and tormented, but she can’t stop crying silently to herself.
  • Bessie brings Jane a treat—a tart, and on a beautiful china plate that Jane’s always liked. She can’t bring herself to eat it.
  • Next Bessie asks if Jane wants a book; she asks for Gulliver’s Travels, which she’s always loved (and thinks is nonfiction). But even reading can’t comfort her now; Gulliver seems lonely and beset by terrible dangers.
  • As she works, Bessie starts singing a song that Jane has always liked in the past. But this time—can you guess?—yep, it just sounds sad. We’re starting to wonder if Jane will ever enjoy anything again.
  • Mr. Lloyd comes to see how Jane is doing. She’s not sick, and he starts trying to figure out why she’s so miserable.
  • Bessie tells Mr. Lloyd things that make Jane sound babyish: that she’s crying because she didn’t get to go out in the carriage with everyone else, and that she was sick because she had a fall. Jane’s pretty indignant about these charges and denies them both—and explains that the "fall" was actually when John Reed knocked her down.
  • A bell rings and Bessie has to go have dinner with the other servants, so Mr. Lloyd is left alone with Jane.
  • Jane tells Mr. Lloyd about the ghost, and he finds that pretty silly.
  • Jane protests that she’s miserable for lots of other reasons: she doesn’t have any immediate family, Mrs. Reed and her son John are cruel to her, and she’s made to feel that she doesn’t have any right to live at Gateshead.
  • Mr. Lloyd starts asking about different ways Jane could leave Gateshead. Does she have any other family? She’s not sure, but she doesn’t think so, and she wouldn’t want to live with them if they were poor anyway. Could she go to school?
  • Jane thinks about school. She’s heard bad stuff about school from Bessie and John, but she doesn’t really trust either of them, and she is interested in learning to paint and sing and sew and read French and stuff—the things she knows young ladies get taught in school. Plus, she’d be able to get away from the Reeds.
  • Jane tells Mr. Lloyd that she does want to go to school, and he advises Mrs. Reed to send her to one.
  • Jane hears Abbot tell Bessie that Mrs. Reed will send Jane to school, if only to get rid of her. Jane also hears Abbot talk about her (Jane’s) own family: her dad was a poor clergyman (like a minister), her grandfather disinherited her mother for marrying him, and both of them (Jane’s mom and dad) died while taking care of sick people during a typhus outbreak. Well, at least now she knows where she comes from.
  • Bessie and Abbot agree that they would be able to feel sorry for Jane "if she were a nice, pretty child" (1.3.78) or "a beauty like Miss Georgiana" (1.3.79), but they can’t really feel bad for her because she’s unpleasant and ugly. We think they’re jerks, especially for saying this in front of Jane. Hollywood movies may not show it, but you don’t have to be stunningly gorgeous to suffer, you know.

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