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What insights into 19th century education do you gain from the novel Jane Eyre?

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Introduction

11th January 2002 Isabel Wilkie What insights into 19th century education do you gain from the novel Jane Eyre? Charlotte Bronte was born in Yorkshire in 1816. She spent most of her life in Haworth, a bleak Yorkshire village where her father was curate. In 1821 her mother died, so she, her four sisters, Elizabeth, Anne, Maria and Emily and her brother Branwell were sent to live with their Aunt, Elizabeth Branwell. In 1824 Charlotte was sent with Elizabeth, Maria and Emily to a school for daughters of the clergy. While at school two of her sisters died of typhus, this is where she got her inspiration for Lowood. After Charlotte left this school she went to Miss Woolers School and returned home as a teacher. She also became a governess, as this was a respectable profession for someone of Charlotte's status. The novel Jane Eyre is autobiographical in that Charlotte Bronte describes her own education through the character Jane Eyre. Many of the incidents at Lowood really happened to her. At the beginning of the 19th century only 1 child in 20 went to school in 1800, and these were mainly boys, the sons of rich parents. Poor children were too busy to go to school as they worked on the land and in the factories to bring money for their families. ...read more.

Middle

At daybreak the bell rang and the girls were led into a room to have breakfast. Lessons began again at 9,00. Discipline was a very important part of life at Lowood the girls seemed to be afraid of the teachers and were always silent when they entered a room. The cane was used. Jane was horrified at the harsh punishments that were used at Lowood, these were both physical, the cane and verbal, which could be very hurtful. Jane thought that she could never bear such a punishment and is mortified when she is made to stand on a stool and is accused of being a liar. Most of the punishments at Lowood were for very trivial things such as having dirty nails when the wash water was frozen. Jane thought that these punishments were very mean and she believes that these people do not deserve courtesy or to be obeyed. Jane Eyre has one friend at Lowood she is called Helen Burns but during a Typhoid epidemic she died. Even though the health problems at Lowood were common among charity schools, the outbreak of typhus brought Lowood into the public eye, where the living conditions at Lowood were found unacceptable. ''Our clothing was insufficient to protect us from the severe cold: we had no boots the snow got into our shoes and melted there; our ungloved hands became numbed and covered with chilblains, as were our feet...'' ...read more.

Conclusion

The passages, which do show Jane at the school usually, include praises of how well her students are doing and how the children of England are so much better than the children of the rest of the Europe. This belief also suggests that their education system is the best, including the newest form of schooling, the class school. Charlotte Bronte was very lucky to receive the education that she did; she had a very good governess job that was due to her education. Many children were happy not to go to school, but they suffered in later life, especially the girls and lower class people who were not educated. Charlotte was unlucky to loose two of her sisters at school and that must have made her have unhappy memories about her school life. When Charlotte attended Miss Wooler's school she was the happiest that she had ever been at school. She respected Miss Wooler and this was reflected in her grades. When she left this school she had quality experience that stood her in good stead and allowed her to progress further in life than many of the women at that time. Jane Eyres education is very similar to that of Charlotte Bronte, she had unpleasant experiences of death when her closest friend dies of typhus. Jane also had a teacher that inspired her to do well, Miss Temple. In the novel Jane was also very lucky to get such a quality education to set her up for later life, as she had very good jobs in her life considering her age. ...read more.

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