Chapters 3 and 4
Jane awakes in her bed tended by Bessie, a maid, and Jane’s only friend in
An apothecary, Mr. Lloyd, examines Jane, and feeling that she can no longer
endure the treatment handed out by her aunt and cousins, she confides in Mr. Lloyd, who suggests that she might be happier in a Boarding School, and he advises Mrs. Reed accordingly.
Jane overhears this conversation and learns that her father was a poor
clergyman who married Jane’s mother against the family’s wishes, and were thus disinherited. Both her parents died of typhus a year later and that is how she came to Gateshead Hall.
Another lonely Christmas passes for Jane, only punctuated by an occasional
kindness from Bessie.
In mid January, Mr. Brocklehurst of Lowood Boarding School for Girls arrives
to interview Jane. He says to her, “No sight so sad as that of a naughty child, especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”
Jane was ready with her answer, “They go to hell.”
“And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”
“A pit full of fire.”
“And should you like to fall into that pit and to be burning there forever?”
“What must you do to avoid it?”
Jane deliberated for a moment and then said, “I must keep in good health, and not die.”
Mr. Brocklehurst goes on to describe how tenuous life can be and that he has
only just recently buried a 5-year old child.
Jane sighed and Mr. Brocklehurst responded, “I hope that sigh is from the
heart and that you repent for ever having been the occasion of discomfort to your excellent benefactress.”
Inwardly, Jane was seething, thinking that if Mrs. Reed was her
benefactress, then to be a benefactress is a disagreeable thing.
Mrs. Reed advises Mr. Brocklehurst that Jane has a tendency to deceit.
Mr. Brocklehurst says, “Deceit is, indeed, a sad fault in a child. It is akin to falsehood, and all liars will have their portion in the lake burning with fire and brimstone;” He assures Mrs. Reid that he will tame this sinful girl, and will warn those at Lowood School to watch carefully this wicked child.
These chapters explain further Jane’s plight. Apart from the maid,
Bessie, she receives no kindness at all.
The other servants look down on her, and her cousins bully her. Even when Mr. Lloyd talks with her, he is not totally sympathetic to her position, although he does suggest that she may be better off at a Boarding School, and Mrs. Reed pursues this.
We are also made aware of Jane’s intelligence, obtained from her extensive
reading, which she used as a means of escape from her dismal life. She refuses to be manipulated by Brocklehurst’s interrogation and he attributes this to her wickedness.
Before she leaves Gateshead Hall, she is determined to show Mrs. Reed that
she is not totally cowed.
After Mr. Brocklehurst leaves, Jane says to Mrs. Reed, “I am not deceitful: if I were, I should say I loved you; but I declare I do not love you: I dislike you the worst of anybody in the world except John Reed: and this book about the Liar you may give to your girl Georgiana, for it is she who tells lies, and not I.” Jane senses that she has Mrs. Reed reeling at this verbal attack and she goes on to say that she disowns her as her aunt, and tells her that she will never come to see her when she grows up, and that “the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty.”
The reader must remember that Jane is only 10, but she has the spirit of an
adult, which she will require when she goes to Lowood.
Bront' is probably well qualified to pass comment on ministers in the Church
of England from experiences she would have had as a child. She portrays Brocklehurst as a hypocritical, Bible-thumping minister who may be adept in quoting directly from the Bible, but fails to practice what
he preaches. He may be able to intimidate children with the fear of God, but certainly his contemporaries would see through this.