Student Question

How did Lowood shape Jane Eyre's character?

Quick answer:

Lowood has shaped Jane's character by allowing her to develop her compassionate side. Though conditions at the school are incredibly harsh, she's able to manage thanks to the beneficial influence of her good friend Helen Burns and the school superintendent, Miss Temple.

Expert Answers

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Lowood is a truly horrible place, a dilapidated old school characterized by harsh discipline, inedible food, and presided over by a religious fanatic who thinks that by subjecting his pupils to a regime of privation, he is actually doing the Lord's work.

Yet despite all of this, Jane's personality is shaped for the better by her time at Lowood. The school's manager, the unspeakable Mr. Brocklehurst, may be a thoroughly nasty piece of work, but thankfully the same cannot be said of everyone who works there. The superintendent, Miss Temple, is a kind, fair-minded soul, whose compassion and decency rubs off on the impressionable young Jane.

Jane's fellow student, Helen Burns, also shapes her personality. Over time, she becomes Jane's only friend at Lowood and they develop a very powerful bond. A pious, loyal, and compassionate young lady, Helen provides Jane with a good role model. Despite all the hardships she has to endure at the school on a daily basis, Helen remains remarkably calm in the face of adversity, a quality that Jane herself will develop in due course.

To some extent, the firm adherence to moral values that Jane will display in her relationship with Mr. Rochester, resembles that of Helen, who consistently lives out her values irrespective of the many challenges that life at Lowood brings. In refusing to live with Mr. Rochester in what she sees as an immoral arrangement, Jane is acting with the same kind of moral integrity that Helen always displayed throughout her tragically short life.

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