Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Jane Eyre Part 3: Things are Looking Up

I told you I'd be back. And I even read, so there's that. So let's talk about that.

Chapters 6-8

This chapter sees Jane's second day at Lowood. The girls get up and the morning, but are unable to bathe because the water is frozen. It has begun to snow and there is very poor, if any, insulation at the school. You'll find out later that this is by design because the dude who runs the school, Mr. Brocklehurst, is a massive fuckhead. Anyway, school starts with bible study and sermons, breakfast happens and the portions are incredibly small. Jane is freezing, as the school uniform is not adequate at keeping the cold out. Jane becomes a pupil in the fourth class, moving up from the bottom class. The classes are difficult and Jane is unaccustomed to being in this environment. Most of the classes start sewing at the same time, except one. In this lone non-sewing class is the girl Jane spoke with about the book on the porch. All the girls are called by their last names, and the girl's name is Burns. Burns is being singled out by the teacher for being messy and inattentive. However, when it comes to
What the fuck, teacher?
answering questions about their lesson, Burns answers every one. Jane expects her to be praised, but the teacher points out her flaws once again. This school is maybe not the friendliest place. Burns makes no answer to the attack, just takes it in stride. She is sent to the other room to retrieve something. She comes back with a batch of sticks. Her teacher then proceeds to be BEAT HER WITH THE STICKS. What. The. Fuck. Burns doesn't flinch, doesn't cry, doesn't do much of anything. However, when she returns the sticks to the other room, she comes back crying.

Recess period finally comes around. Jane passes most of the time exploring and roaming around. She notes that if she had a family, this is probably the time she would miss them most. She spots Burns sitting by the fire and walks over to join her. Burns is reading the same book from the day before, but finishes as Jane seats herself. Burns tells Jane that her first name is Helen. Jane asks Helen if she wants to leave Lowood because of what happened and Helen says no. She came to get an education and she sees no point in leaving before she gets one. They talk about how Jane think the teacher is cruel, and Helen sees it another way. She says, "Cruel? Not at all! She is severe: she dislikes my faults." Remarkably rational. Jane tells Helen that she would dislike and resist the teacher. Helen thinks that she wouldn't do anything and if she did, she would be expelled. She tells Jane, "It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels buy yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you." This little girl is very smart. The thing is, both Helen and Jane are right. It's good to stand up for yourself when you can, but doing it just because you can helps no one. They talk about how it is a duty to endure punishment. They talk about Helen's faults, the various teachers at the school, and Helen's lesson. They were talking about Charles the first, which she found interesting. This is why she was paying attention. She notes that Charles wanted to do good, but he did so in ways that were unjust and unwise. Charles is being used as an allegory for Jane. She wants to do good, but she is unwise in her methods. Charles could have been great, but he was too concerned with his own desires, not what was good for everyone. In the same ways, Jane may have done well at Gateshead, had she just acted differently, but she was unwise and acted out. Thus, she was ostracized. I'm not saying that was just or right, it's just what may have happened.

Jane takes her turn to make an excellent point. "I must dislike those who, whatever I do to please them, persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish me unjustly. It is as natural as that I should love those who show me affection, or submit to punishment when I feel it is deserved." Helen tells her that is her Christian duty to submit because, "It is not violence that best overcomes hate." True. They are both right. These small children a very well informed. Jane tells Helen all about her sad childhood and Helen essentially tells her that life is too short to hold grudges. Their conversation ends and Helen is called away.

Jane's first quarter at Lowood has gone by. She excelled in her classes, her teachers like her and she's made some friends. The weather has been freezing, but there has been no change in the wardrobe of the girls. They walk six miles to church every Sunday in their normal dress. They don't even get boots. It's lucky none of these girls have died yet. They also get very small portions of food and sometimes the older girls take food from the younger girls, so the young ones get even less than their typical small portions. The girls are very weak and cold all the time.

One day, Mr. Brocklehurst makes a visit. You should remember him from the meeting he had with Mrs. Reed where he branded Jane a liar. Jane is long division working on a math problem when Brocklehurst comes in. He meets with Miss Temple, the very kind school superintendent. He criticizes the appearance of the girls. He notes the time when Miss Temple gave the girls bread and cheese when the porridge was burnt. He says that they should have been made to eat the burnt food, and not given extra. This builds their character and makes them "hardy, patient, and self-denying." Denying them adequate food deprives them of character building. It starves their souls. He limits the amount of things they can have, criticizes when they are allowed more clean clothes than mandated and actually demands that some of the girls have their hair cut off because it is naturally curly. You see, curly hair is a sign of vanity, even when it grows out of your head that color. He also demands
Seriously, Brocklehurst is the worst person.
that the girls who have their hair done up in buns should have all their hair cut off because it is a sign of vanity. While he is making this proclamation, his wife and daughters come in. They are magnificently done up with furs, silks, and curly hair. Of course. Hypocrites are wonderful, aren't they?

All this times, Jane has endeavored to hide herself, fearing that Mr. Brocklehurst will tell the teachers that he believes Jane to be a liar. She is hiding behind her school slate, when she drops it and it breaks on the floor, drawing everyone's attention. Brocklehurst knows that it is Jane and calls her to the center of the room. He makes her stand on a tall stool so that everyone can she her. He starts in on a huge sermon about how Jane is an agent of Satan. He tells everyone to disassociate themselves with her, not to be her friend, and the teachers should keep a special look out for her. He tells them to beat her in order to save her soul because she is a liar. He pauses for a long time in order for everyone to fully understand what he has said to them. He talks about Mrs. Reed being pious and righteous, about how she was generous to take Jane into her home and raise her as her own. This would be laughable if it wasn't so horrifying. He turns and walks to the door with his family, turning at the door to say that Jane should stay on the stool for another hour and a half and to tell everyone to not speak to Jane AT ALL for the rest of the day. Jane is understandably humiliated. She stands with her head bowed. One of the older girls walks by her, The girl gives Jane a look that heightens her spirits. As Jane puts it, "It was as if a martyr, a hero, had passed a slave or victim, and imparted strength in the transit." Jane understands that the other girls don't hate her. They are not on Brocklehurst's side. Helen Burns walks by Jane and smiles, making Jane even more uplifted.

At the end of her stool standing extravaganza, Jane goes to dinner with the rest of the girls. She sits alone in the corner and sobs. Helen brings her something to eat, but she refuses. Jane asks her why she came over and didn't stay with all the others who think she is a liar. Helen assures her that no one thinks that Jane is a liar and they think that Brocklehurst is a giant dick to begin with. She says, "Mr Brocklehurst is not a god: nor is he even a great and admired man." She says that people may be cold for a few days, but it will all blow over. She adds that "If all the world hated you a believed you wicked, while your own conscious approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends." That's super sweet. Helen is a nice girl. I like her. Helen assures Jane that they are friends and Jane hugs her, resting her head on Helen's should. They sit like this for a while before they are approached by Miss Temple. She takes Jane and Helen up to her chambers.

Once in her chambers, Miss Temple asks Jane if she has cried her grief away. Jane says she may never do that because everyone thinks the worst of her. Miss Temple tells her, "We shall think you what you prove yourself to be, my child. Continue to act as a good girl, and you will satisfy me." Someone actually believes in Jane? I mean, someone other than me? What a dramatic change!  Miss Temple asks about Mrs. Reed and Jane tells the story, taking special pains to be accurate and not embellish her phrasing. Jane mentions Mr. Lloyd, the apothecary who helped Jane after the incident in the red room. Miss Temple knows him, so sends word to him to corroborate Jane's story. If he agrees with Jane, she will be publicly cleared of Mr. Brocklehurst's charge. To Miss Temple, Jane is
I'm just so happy for Jane.
already cleared. Miss Temple gives Jane a kiss and a hug.

Miss Temple turns her attention to Helen. She asks about Helen's cough and a pain that Helen had in her chest. I am instantly worried about Helen. Miss Temple gives a short sign after questioning Helen, who says she feels better. She an Helen discuss her studies, reading, Latin, all manner of things. Jane sits quietly and listens intently. Miss Temple gives the girls tea, toast, and cake, much to their delight. Miss Temple seems like a genuinely lovely, caring person, the likes of which Jane has never seen. This is what Mrs. Reed should have been for her. The girls are called down to bed when the bell rings and Miss Temple hugs them both. She hugs Helen a bit longer and looks sad when she leaves. I'm still team worried about Helen. I have a bad feeling about this.

A few days later, Miss Temple receives word from Mr. Lloyd, confirming Jane's story. She is publicly cleared in front of the whole school. Jane resolves to do her absolute best in school and does just that. She does well in her classes and moves up quickly. She starts to take French and drawing and spends much of her time thinking about drawing exciting, beautiful pictures. She notes that she wouldn't exchange Lowood for anything in the world.


Things are getting better for Jane, which makes me very apprehensive. I don't know what's going to happen to her. I'm hoping things will keep looking up, but I have a sinking feeling the other shoe is about to drop. I'm worried about Helen. She is Jane's first real friend and as people tend to die around Jane, this may be bad news.

I don't really have anything else to say. These chapters were fairly straight forward. So... that's all, folks. I'll see you next week.

Until Next Time, Happy Reading.

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