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In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, what effect does Miss Temple’s public affirmation of...

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baloo658 | Student | eNoter

Posted May 9, 2012 at 11:17 PM via web

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In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, what effect does Miss Temple’s public affirmation of Jane’s honesty have on Jane’s willingness to work?


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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:22 AM (Answer #1)

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In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Miss Temple publically exonerates Jane of any wrongdoing, having received confirmation from Mr. Lloyd that Jane is not, in fact, a liar.

In Chapter Eight, Jane suffers greatly because she has been wrongly accused and shamed before the entire school. She has also been punished. All of Jane's plans to improve the sad, lonely life she lived at Gateshead have disintegrated in a matter of moments and she is devastated.

…so overwhelming was the grief that seized me, I sank prostrate with my face to the ground. Now I wept…nothing sustained me; left to myself, I abandoned myself, and my tears watered the boards. I had meant to be so good, and to do so much at Lowood: to make so many friends, to earn respect and win affection. …now, here I lay again crushed and trodden on; and could I ever rise more?

“Never,” I thought; and ardently I wished to die.

Miss Temple comes to Jane and asks her to tell her story. Miss Temple believes Jane, but also says she will ask Mr. Lloyd to verify what Jane has described. If the stories match, Miss Temple will proclaim Jane's innocence to the school. Mr. Lloyd does in fact write that all Jane said is true, and Miss Temple announces to Jane's peers and teachers that Jane is blameless of the charges.

Jane's outlook changes dramatically. It is as if she has been reborn, and she begins to thrive at school—working as hard as she can in order to excel:

Thus relieved of a grievous load, I from that hour set to work afresh, resolved to pioneer my way through every difficulty: I toiled hard, and my success was proportionate to my efforts; my memory, not naturally tenacious, improved with practice: exercise sharpened my wits; in a few weeks I was promoted to a higher class; in less than two months I was allowed to commence French and drawing. 

Jane is so pleased with her new life that she has no desire to be anywhere else—she no longer feels like an outsider:

I would not now have exchanged Lowood with all its privations, for Gateshead and its daily luxuries.

While harsh treatment of a child can break his or her spirit (it would not be out of the realm of possibility at all), Jane is able to pull herself together and surpass even her own expectations.

On a very basic level, people are social by nature. John Donne wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself." People are not meant to live separately from others. Miss Temple's faith in, and affirmation of, Jane allow the child to accept herself. It is natural to want to please others, but it is also natural to be pleased with oneself when experiencing success and acceptance.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:22 AM (Answer #2)

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When young Jane reacts to the testimony of Miss Temple on her behalf in Chapter 8 as she is unfairly accused of being a liar by narrating,

I would not now have exchanged Lowood with all its privations, for Gateshead and its daily luxuries.

She indicates the profound affect that Miss Temple's acts of justice and charity have upon her. Heretofore, Mrs. Reed of Gateshead has most uncharitably reported to Mr. Brocklehurst about Jane's deceptivness prior to her coming to Lockwood. Like Mrs. Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst has also wished to believe the worst of poor Jane, so he has informed the girls of the school about Jane's supposed character flaw. Jane is "now exposed to general view on a pedestal of infamy" and is completely humiliated, "crushed and trodden on."

But, Miss Temple's encouragement to Jane to "Continue to act as a good girl, and you will satisfy me" and her promise to write to Mr. Lloyd in order to verify Jane's tale of her mistreatment at Gateshead, lead to the repudiation of Jane's purported reputation of being a liar. Moreover, now Jane has an ally and a friend in Miss Temple, along with Helen Burns.  Surely, with the love of Helen and Miss Temple, Jane views Lowood with its physical deprivations as an improvement upon the handsome, but chilling and rejecting Reed home of Gateshead where little love or charity towards her existed. 

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