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What do we learn about Charlotte Brontes view of the nineteenth century system of education in Jane Eyre?

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Introduction

What do we learn about Charlotte Bronte's view of the nineteenth century system of education in Jane Eyre? I would be using the novel, Jane Eyre as a device to illustrate Charlotte Bronte's view of the nineteenth century system of education. This novel was published by Bronte in 1847 under the false name Currer Bell. I think this alone is a good evidence of the social and cultural background that prevailed in the nineteenth century. It was a male dominant world. Girls from upper class families were taught by a governess. Boys were often sent to public schools like Eton. Middle class boys went to grammar schools while the middle class girls went to private schools. The poor went to a village school where they were taught a little reading, writing, needle work and arithmetic. The education was very basic. In fact one's wealth decided on the quality of education that they might receive. This novel is basically a reflection of Bronte's view of the nineteenth century system of education. Bronte's has made up the fictional character Jane Eyre to depict her views of education that prevailed at that time. In fact Jane's thoughts, words and actions are all Bronte's thoughts, words and actions. In this novel, Jane Eyre, the main character is an orphan who is looked after by her aunt, Mrs. Reeds. One day, as punishment for fighting with her cousin John Reed, Mrs. Reeds imprisons Jane in the red-room, the room in which Mr. Reeds, her uncle died. While locked in, Jane, believing that she sees her uncle's ghost, screams and faints. She wakes to find herself in the care of Bessie and the kindly apothecary Mr. Lloyd, who suggests to Mrs. Reed that Jane be sent away to school. To Jane's delight Mrs. Reed concurs and she's sent to Lowood Charitable Institution. According to Bronte's biographers she's been to a similar school namely, Cowan Bridge School. ...read more.

Middle

"This ominous tool she presented to Miss. Scatcherd with respectful courtesy; then she quietly and without being told, unclosed her pinafore, and the teacher instantly and sharply inflicted on her neck a dozen strokes with the bunch of twigs. Not a tear rose from Burns eye....." 'Without been told' and 'Not a tear rose from Burns eye' suggest us that this was very frequent and Helen was very familiar with these kinds of incidents. This is a good evidence of how well the children were treated. Children are treated like animals. People beat the animals to make them do something as they cannot understand what people say, but these little ones are humans who can very well understand what other people say. Children are not given a chance to correct their mistakes. Religion plays a big role in Lowood school life- "The meal over, prayers were read by Miss. Miller, and the classes filed off two and two upstairs." The teachers didn't enjoy teaching religion. This is well explained during Sunday evenings- "The Sunday evening was spent in repeating by heart, the Church Catechism, and the 5th, 6th and 7th read by Miss. Miller whose irrepressible yawns attested her weariness." If the teachers do not enjoy, how can you expect the children to enjoy? Children are forced to believe in God. Their thoughts evolve around God. This is well portrayed when Helen says "Read the New Testament, and observe what Christ says and how He acts; make word your rule, and His conduct your example." According to Bronte's biographers, the fictional character Mr. Brocklehurst the treasurer and the manager of the establishment (Lowood) is a portray of William Carus Wilson at Cowan Bridge. Mr. Brocklehurst appears very little in the whole novel but his words illustrate us a lot about his cruelty towards the little ones. This is well shown when he says "I have again and again intimated that I desire the hair to be arranged closely, modestly and plainly. ...read more.

Conclusion

She says, "....when I got to know them, and they me..." This shows us clearly that the problem she had them with was none other than their accent and their life style. She is capable of understanding others. I think Bronte uses this in contrast with the teachers at Lowood who had no understanding of the little children's thoughts and deeds. She says, "....my language, my rules, and ways, once subsided, I found some of these heavy looking rustics wake up into sharp witted girls enough........and I discovered amongst them not a few examples of natural politeness, and innate self-respect, as well as of excellent capacity, that won both my goodwill and admiration." So she admires the girls when they do well which encourages the children to learn. As a result the progress of these children was very rapid. Jane describes their progress "....in some instances, was even surprising..." Jane is totally devoted to her job as a teacher. She considers that there should be equality for everyone. Education that all the children receive should be of the same quality. No matter whether you are rich or poor, no matter whether you study in a charity school, a village school or are taught by a governess. This is well illustrated when she says "These could already read, write and sew; and to them I taught the elements of grammar, geography, history, and the finer kinds of needle work." Finally I think Bronte has very successfully criticized the system of education in the 19th century using Jane as her voice. She has used Lowood, Thornfield and Morton to discuss the three main sections of education that one might receive depending on one's wealth. She strongly believes in equality for all which is seen throughout the novel. She also thinks that there should be fair opportunities and no harsh punishments. Above all she points out that every child needs to be loved. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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