Jane Eyre Chapters 5-8 Summary

     In Chapter 5, Jane leaves Gateshead and heads to Lowood. Bessie is the only one who says good-bye to Jane. Mrs. Reed is not interested in getting up early to pack her, so Jane leaves quietly. She is somewhat confused with the new environment and tries to accommodate to new living conditions. Lowood is described as a gloomy, crowded place with strict rules. Long, cold rooms are packed with beds, food is tasteless and scarce, and girls seem deprived of joy. Jane follows their daily routine and soon meets her first friend.

     The following chapter begins with the new day in Lowood. Although they are obliged to wash their faces as soon as they get up, water in pitchers is frozen, and the room is freezing cold. They get their breakfast, small in portion, and begin with lessons. Jane still struggles to keep up with the daily tempo of the school by watching the other girls, when a girl whom Jane met the previous day catches Jane's attention once again, as she is being constantly warned by her teacher for her mistakes and lashed with a rod. Jane learns that her name is Helen Burns and approaches her later, puzzled by her firm endurance. She is shocked to hear Helen's life philosophy, that everyone must bear their faith, since it is their duty. Jane reminds Helen that Miss Scatcherd has just beaten her without any obvious reason, and advises her to stand for herself and fight back, but Helen is disgusted with Jane's ignorance, justifying Miss Scatcherd's manners and letting her know that only savages hold the doctrine of loving the ones who love you and hating the ones who hate you, giving her a Christian lesson about loving your enemies and enduring the pain.

     Chapters 7 and 8 still cover Jane's life in Lowood. She describes harsh winter and girls' sufferings during frequent trips to nearby church for service, wearing thin clothes and shoes unsuitable for the season, adding that it was not rare for the girls to collapse during the service, out of coldness, hunger or exhaustion. The only good thing is that Jane has not seen Mr. Brocklehurst since he visited her at Mrs. Reed's home, but that is about to change soon. When Jane spots a gaunt outline through the window, one day, she knows it is him. Dreading that he might recognize her and put her to shame in front of other girls, she tries to keep a low profile during his visit to her class. He approaches Miss Temple and whispers to her ear, so that other girls cannot hear, about the additional meal which girls have had once, on Miss Temple's insistence, after they were served with uneatable porridge. Disapproving her decision, he reminds her that the idea is to bring up girls unaccustomed to luxury and indulgence. During the reproach, he notices a girl with red curly hair and becomes even more agitated with her "abundancy," demanding her hair to be cut of entirely, so she can regain her modest and plain look. At that moment, three women enter the room, wearing silk, fur and fake curls. They are greeted with respect and seated at the top of the room, as honored guests, making it obvious that they are Mr. Brocklehurst's family. The scene is so striking as it draws a line between poverty and wealth, honesty and hypocrisy, good and evil. Jane Eyre is unlucky enough to have her slate slipped from her hands, drawing everyone's attention to her. Mr. Brocklehurst is especially irritated with her clumsiness and immediately places her in the center of the classroom to expose her to curious eyes and make her feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, he warns both students and teachers about her treacherous personality and calls her a liar, insisting her to stay on the stool for the rest of the afternoon as a punishment. Jane is devastated by this public humiliation, and as soon as the class dismisses, starts weeping, thinking about how hard she tries to be a better girl with her efforts never appreciated. Helen Burns calms her down, assuring her that nobody hates her just because Mr. Brocklehurst labeled her as a liar. Miss Temple approaches them and summons them into her room, where she asks Jane to tell her side of the story. Jane then tell her all about humiliation and abuse from the Reeds, as well as about the incident in the red room. Miss Temple promises to write to Mr. Lloyd to confirm Jane's story, so she can publicly clear her from every imputation. Soon, Mr. Lloyd confirms Jane's story and Miss Temple is happy to announce that Jane is innocent. Pleased with the justice, Jane decides to be even better, she studies harder and with the wind at her back, she is promoted to a higher class.

     The end of this chapter shows how little this child needs in order to thrives. Accustomed to abuse of every kind, even a little reinforcement motivated her to prove her worth.

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