Chapters 7 and 8
The area is gripped by a severe winter and the girls
struggle to keep out the cold, being inadequately fed and clothed. They are still forced to struggle along the almost impassable road that leads to the church, every Sunday. Mr. Brocklehurst, the manager
of Lowood School visits to assess how the supplies are being used.
Jane tries to hide from Mr. Brocklehurst, and in doing so causes a slate to
fall and smash. Mr. Brocklehurst makes an example of Jane and orders her to stand on a high stool as punishment. He is reminded of what Mrs. Reed said about her and he warns all the students and teachers
that she is bad company, and should be avoided. Afterwards, Miss Temple and Helen give her reassurance, but Jane is distraught by Brocklehurst’s unfair treatment of her.
Helen has kept some cake and bread for Jane, and she brings it to her and
comforts her by saying that everybody distrusts Brocklehurst, and they will not put any credence on his condemnation of Jane.
Miss Temple shows some sympathy for both Jane and Helen, and they are
invited to her room to share in tea and cakes.
Jane pours out her story to Miss Temple, and later she decides to write to Mr. Lloyd to confirm Jane’s innocence. When she receives a reply, Miss Temple announces publicly that Brocklehurst falsely accused Jane.
Jane still feels isolated and obtains comfort through her studies, in
particular French and drawing.
Bront' realized that this was a grim tale, and so she
helped lighten it with brief bouts of comedy.
In particular, she takes the opportunity of poking fun at the hypocritical Brocklehurst. Fortunately, he is not involved directly with the teaching of the girls, for he is even crueler than Miss Scratcherd. He chastises the teachers for wastefulness saying that they must make sure that the children’s clothes are repaired rather than having to buy new clothes.
He makes a great scene about visual signs of vanity, even criticizing girls
for having curly hair.
All this ranting seems absurd when his daughters come in dressed in “gray beaver hats, then in fashion, shaded with ostrich plumes, and from under the brim of this graceful headdress fell a profusion of light tresses elaborately curled.” The elder lady who was with them was “enveloped in a costly velvet shawl, trimmed with ermine, and she wore a false front of French curls.” This was in stark contrast to the underdressed girls shivering in the cold of the harsh winter.
Jane does find good role models at the school in particular one of the teachers, Miss Pierrot, who
develops Jane’s love of French, which will help her obtain a position as Governess later on. Jane also delights in sketching which enables her to escape her drab world.