Study Guide

Jane Eyre Volume 1, Chapter 5

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Volume 1, Chapter 5

  • Jane leaves Gateshead, refusing to say anything to Mrs. Reed before she goes.
  • Bessie takes Jane to the porter’s lodge, and then Jane takes a coach by herself for fifty miles to get to Lowood. The journey takes a long time, and she’s afraid of being kidnapped, which is something that happened a lot in Bessie’s stories.
  • At the end of the coach trip, a woman (we learn later that her name is Miss Miller) meets Jane and takes her to a building. We assume this is Lowood School, but nobody has bothered to tell Jane where she is.
  • Jane meets a tall, dark-haired woman who seems to be in charge (later we find out her name: Miss Temple). She’s quite nice and asks Jane about her background, then has Miss Miller take her to a large hall, where about eighty other girls are studying.
  • Monitors collect the girls’ books, and everyone is served "supper," which is just water and some oaten cake things. Gross, right?
  • Jane is sent to sleep with the other girls in a long hall. Everyone sleeps two to a bed, and Jane is sharing with Miss Miller.
  • Everyone gets up before dawn to study math and listen to some Bible reading. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
  • Breakfast is burned porridge, which nobody is really able to eat because it’s so disgusting. Apparently this isn’t the first time that’s happened. Jane can’t eat; she’s busy studying her new teachers.
  • Jane notices how plainly all the girls are dressed; nobody has curled hair, and everyone is wearing ugly brown wool gowns with weird pockets on the front.
  • The first lesson is geography, but Jane still can’t pay attention, because Miss Temple, who is the superintendent (like the principal) comes in again and Jane is, um, very taken with her. In fact, she practically worships Miss Temple, starting from this moment.
  • Miss Temple decides to give the girls bread and cheese for lunch to make up for the burned porridge. Apparently it’s pretty major for the girls to actually get extra food; everybody’s surprised.
  • Everyone gets to go out into the garden for a bit, but because it’s winter things are pretty bleak outside. Jane starts talking to a girl (we don’t learn her name until Chapter 6, but it’s Helen Burns) who is sitting alone reading, and the girl tells her about the school: Lowood Institution, a charity school for orphans. Mr. Brocklehurst is in charge of it all, and we know how much he likes Jane! This is going to go really well, we can tell.
  • Everyone has another gross meal and keeps studying until five o’clock. If you’re doing the math, this probably means that, with a few short breaks, school has taken more than twelve hours already. Yikes.
  • Jane sees Miss Scatcherd punish Helen by making her stand alone in the middle of the room while everyone else works. Jane would be ashamed in her place, but Helen is quiet and dignified, and Jane admires her.
  • More small amounts of plain food and prayers, and it’s bedtime. After one day at the school, Jane can tell this is going to be pretty lame. Lowood makes us appreciate our schools, that’s for sure. At least we never had to eat burned porridge.

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