What are the autobiographical elements in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre?
Jane Eyre is subtitled "An Autobiography," and there are clear parallels between the life of the author and that of the heroine. Like Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë lost her mother when she was young and was sent away to school. She detested The Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge and blamed the conditions there for the deaths of her two sisters, Maria and Elizabeth. The stifling atmosphere of religious hypocrisy and the squalid conditions, even down to specific details such as the burned porridge and frozen water, clearly served as Brontë's model for Lowood School. When the reader at her publisher, Smith, Elder & Co., congratulated Bronte on composing such a vivid description of an appalling school, she insisted that it was all true and that she had even left out the worst elements of Cowan Bridge to make her description credible.
Brontë, like Jane Eyre, went on to become a governess and a teacher. Unlike her heroine, she was able to travel, spending two years in Brussels. At this point, the details of Charlotte Brontë's own life clearly diverged from those in which she placed Jane. Jane, however, is constantly restless and clearly longs for the opportunities to travel which her creator actually enjoyed. Even when Jane's circumstances are no longer the same as Brontë's, they remain similar in temperament and outlook.