Sunday, 31 July 2016

Jane Eyre - Chapters VIII, IX & X

Chapter VIII

As she decends from her punishment, Jane weeps tears of frustration at the persecution she has faced.  Helen attempts to comfort her, but when Jane shows a dramatic coveting of a love of other's opinions, Helen admonishes her:

"Hush, Jane!  you think too much of the love of human beings, you are too impulsive, too vehement: the sovereign hand that created your frame, and put life into it, has provided you with other resources than your feeble self, or than creatures feeble as you.  Besides this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible world and a kingdom of spirits: that world is round us, for it is everywhere; and those spirits in pain and shame, if scorn smote us on all sides, and hatred crushed us, angels see our tortures, recognize our innocence .... and God waits only the separation of spirit from flesh to crown us with a full reward.  Why, then, should we ever sink overwhelmed with distress, when life is so soon over, and death is so certain an entrance to happiness --- to glory?"

They visit Miss Temple's room, and she promises Jane absolution if she discovers Mr. Brocklehurst's comments to be unjust, then gives the girls a sumptuous feast of tea, toast and seedcake.  The conversation between Helen and Miss Temple is at once informative, as well as profound.  Although the next morning Helen is made to wear the word "Slattern" around her neck for keeping messy drawers, she accepts the punishment, although Jane is indignant.  Miss Temple indeed absolves Jane of the accusations, and our heroine is beginning to learn that 'Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.'  The hardships faced at Lowood among people who care about her are like gold, whereas the luxuries of Gateshead are like dross.

School Girl in Black (1908)
Helene Schjerfbeck
source Wikiart

Chapter IX

As spring arrives, some of the privations of the previous months are lessened and Jane begins to wander further than the walls of Lowood into the natural beauty of the forest-dell.  But the fog that surrounded the area brought typhus with it, and especially because of their lack of nutrition and physical weakness, many of the students succumb to the pestilence.  Jane is left with the other healthy students to ramble around the environs, as the teachers are busy dealing with the sick pupils.  But while Helen is absent, Jane does not realize that her illness is critical until she hears from one of the teachers that Helen's life will soon be over.  Visiting Helen in her sick-bed, her friend imparts more words of her gentle wisdom before succumbing to the consumption that the reader had seen glimmers of since her first introduction.

"My Maker and yours, who will never destroy what he created.  I rely implicitly on his power, and confide wholly in his goodness.  I count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall restore me to him, reveal him to me."

With the Reeds cruelty and no other connections other than Bessie, Jane receives her religious instruction from this angelic girl who seems to have a wisdom from beyond the world.

Plague Hospital (1798-1800)
Francisco Goya
source Wikiart

Chapter X

The story is put in fast forward.  The disease at the school brings the attention of the public and an examination is held, which finds the conditions deplorable and positive changes are made.  Jane continued 8 years there as a student and two as a teacher, but when Mrs. Temple marries and departs, a wanderlust seizes Jane and she applies for a position of governess at Thornfield Hall.

Bessie arrives to reveal the scandals at Gateshead:  Georgianna's attempt to run away with a Lord was prevented by her sister, Eliza, and John is living a debauched life of drink and women.  Her uncle, John Eyre, arrived, looking for Jane, but left for parts unknown.  And so Jane leaves for Thornfield Hall.

Young Girl Learning to Write
Camille Corot
source Wikiart

I don't have much insight to add to these chapters.  We observe the development of Jane's character in a positive way, which exemplifies the fluctuations in life and circumstance and enforces that adversity and hardship can be good for building inner strength of character, depending on how we choose to face it.

Yikes, I've fallen behind in the pace with my busy non-book schedule, so I need to catch up.  Wish me luck ----- I'll need lots of it!!!


  1. It really is mind-blowing how children were treated back then. It reminds me of C.S. Lewis' autobiography and the horrible school conditions he suffered under.

    Nowadays it's like we've gone almost to the other extreme where children aren't disciplined for anything at school. Or anywhere. And if you want to discipline your children make sure nobody reports you for child abuse.

    That was gloomy. I apologize. I've read Jane Eyre so many times. It's really one of my all time favorite stories, but I must admit that I often skim her childhood and get straight to her time at Thornfield Hall.

    1. They were pretty awful conditions but they did help mould Jane's character. I don't think the school conditions did anything positive for Lewis though ....

      Ah, I'm feeling rather gloomy myself, so it's no problem. I agree with your thoughts. I can't believe how many excuses are made for children, when the best thing for them would be some discipline. It's abuse of another kind.

      I think it was Mudpuddle who mentioned too that it was hard for her to read about Jane's childhood. In spite of the privations and hardships, I see her time at Lowood as a positive part of her life. In comparing it to her time with the Reeds, she preferred it, and she truly learned the meaning of love within it. I find that quite inspiring!

  2. I agree with you that this stage at Lowood really developed her character and in company of Helen and Miss Temple as well the improved conditions in the school. I thought the vengeance at Gateshead is a bit too harsh and melodramatic, but then I have to give in to the fact, that in life what goes around does come around! All the best playing catch up...I think you are already full steam ahead!

    1. Yes, Gateshead was rather brutal and it's disconcerting that situations like that existed.

      You certainly see how there is a smallness and pettiness to Jane's character coming out of Gateshead, but after a number of years at Lowood, she is more gracious, patient, and self-confident.

      I'm doing my best, but I have another event this weekend that is going to suck up all my time. After that though, I should have clear sailing for awhile!