Jane's education in Jane Eyre

It is clear from the first few chapters of Jane Eyre that Jane has embarked on her self-education. A positive outcome of her relative neglect by the Reed Jane confronts Mrs Reedfamily is that she has been able to read at will in her uncle's library. This reading gives her a sense of the world beyond Gateshead, nourishes her imagination and enhances her use of language – she is a very eloquent child, as both her aunt and her cousin John discover when she tells them what she thinks of them!

Jane reads thoughtfully and forms strong preferences and antipathies - for instance, concerning the Bible, as she tells Mr. Brocklehurst (Chapter 4, Volume 1, Chapter 4). From this reading, and as result of her treatment by the Reeds, Jane has developed a strong sense of justice and a hatred of oppression.

At Lowood School, which draws heavily on Charlotte Brontë's experience at Cowan Bridge (see Author section), the curriculum prepares the girls for work as teachers or governesses. The school also constantly reminds them of their lowly and dependent social status, in spite of the fact that they are from clergy families. This regime is underpinned by a brand of Christianity that assumes the girls' unregenerate nature, uses harshness to attempt to reform this and suppresses their natural behaviour.

For Jane, the saving grace of the school lies, briefly, in the presence of Helen Burns, and her much longer relationship with Miss Temple, who introduce her to a wider world of knowledge.

Later in the novel, Jane continues her education in conversations with Mr. Rochester and with reading and study among the Rivers family.

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