Jane Eyre and Education in Nineteenth-century England

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Jane Eyre and Education in Nineteenth-century England

Jane Eyre provides an accurate view of education in nineteenth-century England, as seen by an 1840s educator. The course of Jane's life in regard to her own education and her work in education are largely autobiographical, mirroring Charlotte Bronte's own life. Jane's time at Lowood corresponds to Charlotte's education at a school for daughters of the clergy, which she and her sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Emily left for in 1824. Jane went on to attend Miss Wooler's school at Roehead from 1831 to 1832, and returned to teach there for three years in 1935, just as Jane became a teacher at Lowood. Both Charlotte and Jane became governesses.

The Lowood School is an accurate representation of a Charity School in the 1820s . The bad health conditions follow the conditions of the school the Brontes went to. The monitorial system of teaching it operates on coincides with the systems created by Joseph Lancaster and Andrew Bell. Lowood's system of a master teacher, under teachers, and monitors is consistent with Bell's complicated system. In addition, the brand of discipline implemented by Mr. Brocklehurst is much like that of Lancaster. Jane's horror at the harsh punishments at Lowood are meant to prompt similar reactions in the reader. Jane at first thinks she could not bear such punishment and is mortified when she must stand on a stool and is accused of being a liar. The disciplining of Jane was completely unfounded, the result of an accident. Most of the punishments at Lowood seem to be for minor and unavoidable infractions such as having dirty nails when the wash water was frozen. Jane sees these punishments as generally just being mean, and thinks that such mean people do ...

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...ould receive work appropriate for his own age and ability. 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.

While at first Lowood was an awful experience, Jane ended up getting a very good education, and went on to offer even better education to other children. Jane Eyre illustrates the evils one could face in the charity schools of the early nineteenth century and the development of that education system into a much better, more efficient system.

Works Cited:

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. London, Penguin Books Ltd.: 1996. (Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Michael Mason).

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