Volume 1, Chapter 7

Synopsis of Volume 1, Chapter 7

Mr Brocklehurst visits the school and reproves Miss Temple for having been too kind to the girls when she ordered extra food because that served to them was inedible. He also emphasises his view that the girls are to be allowed no sense of luxury or indulgence: such ‘natural' features as curly hair are to be discouraged. Yet, when his wife and daughters appear they have curled hair and are dressed in the latest fashion. Jane attracts Mr Brocklehurst's attention when she drops her slate. She is made to stand on a stool and is publicly branded a liar.

Commentary on Volume 1, Chapter 7

Brocklebridge Church This is based on Tunstall Church, about three miles from Cowan Bridge School.

the Church Catechism and the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of St. Matthew The Church Catechism is a series of questions and answers concerning Christian belief. It is to be found in The Book of Common Prayer: Liturgy Catechism:Catechism. The chapters of Matthew referred to here contain Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

Hebdomadal treat weekly treat

the part of Eutychus This man fell asleep during one of Paul's sermons and fell from the upper floor of the building they were in: see Acts 20: 9-10.

the ‘Coming Man' This phrase refers both to the Second Coming of Jesus, and to the coming of the Beast or of the man of sin – Satan – whose arrival will precede Christ's return, as predicted in Matthew 13:32-37 and 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10. In this context, it refers to Jane's sense of foreboding that someone will arrive from Gateshead and report on her supposed past ‘wrongdoings'.

Madam, allow me an instant … their immortal souls A good example of Brocklehurst's religious outlook. Brontë's audience would recognise that imposing harsh restrictions in order to for a sinner to be saved was typical of the Pharisees in the New Testament.

hardy, patient Brocklehurst wishes the girls to acquire the virtues of Christian stoicism, but the regime at Lowood also constantly reminds them of their charitable and dependent status.

the sufferings of the primitive Christians … take up their cross and follow him As so often, Brocklehurst's comparisons and citations from Scripture or Christian history are not entirely applicable to the situation of the girls at Lowood, who are mostly concerned with cold and hunger. The attitude taken by the narrative towards the school suggests that, if the girls are suffering martyrdom like the early Christians, it is at the hands of Brocklehurst himself.

‘If ye suffer hunger or thirst for my sake, happy are ye.' This is not an exact quotation from the Sermon on the Mount, but echoes the sentiments of Matthew 5:6: ‘Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness'. See also Luke 6:21 and 1 Peter 3:14.

not to conform to nature … children of Grace See Religion in Jane Eyre and Charlotte Brontë and childhood.

the outside of the cup and platter A reference to one of Christ's statements on hypocrisy, addressed to the scribes and Pharisees: ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. .. First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.' Matthew 23:25-26. This also anticipates the arrival of Brocklehurst's wife and daughters, dressed in their finery.

kingdom is not of this world When the Jews bring Christ before Pontius Pilate, who asks him if he is the King of the Jews, Christ replies, ‘My kingdom is not of this world' See John 18:28-40.

Lady wearing a pelisse coatthe lusts of the flesh Brocklehurst here means all desire for material or worldly goods.

silk pelisses A pelisse is a long shawl. The detail adds to the impression of Brocklehurst's daughters as expensively dressed and fashionable young women, thus emphasising the hypocrisy of his attitudes toward the dress and appearance of the girls at the school.

God has graciously given her … the Evil One Brocklehurst suggests that, although Jane looks like everyone else, she has become the agent of the Devil.

the Rubicon was passed In 49 BCE, Caesar, then Governor of Gaul, marched towards Rome. Once he had crossed the River Rubicon, which marked the boundary between Gaul and Italy, he was regarded as a hostile invader. The phrase ‘to cross the Rubicon' has come to mean to take an irrevocable step.

a little castaway …true flock … an interloper and an alien These descriptions indicate the many ways in which Jane is made to feel an outsider and an individual of little worth. Christ's care for his followers is often compared in the New Testament to that of a shepherd for his sheep.

Juggernaut, photo by Superkimo available through Creative Commonsa little Heathen ... Juggernaut By ‘Heathen', Brocklehurst means any non-Christian, but he then goes on to be more specific by referring to a Brahmin (a Hindu priest) and the juggernaut, a carriage bearing a gigantic image of the Hindu god Vishnu, beneath whose wheels devotees would sacrifice themselves.

the Jews … round her See John 5:2-9. The pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem was said to have been 'stirred' by an angel, and only the first person into it afterwards was cured of their sicknesses and disabilities. Brocklehurst suggests that Lowood School will have the same effect on Jane.

Investigating Volume 1, Chapter 7
  • This chapter contains a good deal about religion and the way it is applied to the education of the girls at Lowood School:
    • What principal beliefs lie behind the regime of the school?
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