Study Guide

Jane Eyre Volume 1, Chapter 8

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Volume 1, Chapter 8

  • The school day finally ends, the pupils go out to have their early-evening meal (they call it tea), and Jane lets herself fall off the stool she’s been standing on, curl up on the ground, and cry. She thinks all her hopes of being a successful student at Lowood, of having any friends, or having any of the teachers on her side are completely dashed.
  • Helen brings Jane something to eat and gently sets her straight about a few things: everyone in the school knows what a hypocrite Mr. Brocklehurst is, and they’re not going to despise Jane just because he doesn’t like her. In fact, they might even be nicer to her secretly because they know how unfair he is and they all hate him.
  • Helen also says that, even if everyone hated Jane, if she knew herself to be innocent, that would be enough (because, we gather, God would be on her side). Jane’s not so sure about this; she doesn’t think she could live without friends.
  • Helen starts talking about the rewards of the afterlife, and Jane feels melancholy—she’s not sure why. And then Helen starts coughing ominously. Dum dum dummm. Guess what’s going to happen to her pretty soon?
  • Miss Temple comes and takes Jane and Helen to her room (sort of like going to the principal’s office). But they’re not in trouble—Miss Temple just wants to check on Jane to see how she’s feeling after being humiliated in front of everyone.
  • Miss Temple asks Jane for her own version of her life story, and Jane tells her side of things about Mrs. Reed and Gateshead. Jane realizes how important it is to tell the exact truth here, and so she doesn’t exaggerate the story at all.
  • Luckily for Jane, Miss Temple knows Mr. Lloyd, and writes to him to corroborate Jane’s story. She promises that, if he does, she won’t treat Jane like a liar, no matter what that awful Mr. Brocklehurst says.
  • Miss Temple checks on Helen: How is she feeling? How’s her cough? What’s her pulse like? Dum dum dummm.
  • Helen and Jane get to have tea and seed-cake with Miss Temple. It’s not much, but hey, it’s not burned porridge, either.
  • Jane listens as Miss Temple and Helen have a sparkling conversation about all sorts of things; both of them are well-read and intelligent and know a lot about a lot of things, and Jane doesn’t know half as much. She’d like to, though!
  • Jane and Helen go back to the large, dormitory-style bedroom, and, of course, something unpleasant happens to spoil their evening. Miss Scatcherd has just gone through Helen’s drawers and is going to punish her for being messy.
  • The next day, Miss Scatcherd makes Helen wear a sign that says "Slattern" tied to her forehead for the day. Jane feels terrible on Helen’s behalf, but Helen, as usual, is a patient, sweet-natured martyr about everything.
  • Mr. Lloyd answers Miss Temple’s letter and confirms the story that Jane told. Jane feels freed up to concentrate on her schoolwork and begins to do really well in all her classes. She’s almost happy at Lowood these days. (Uh-oh: that won't lead to anything good.)

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